No matter how you like to travel, location is king when you’re choosing accommodation. This is particularly true if you want to experience a city’s nightlife: being in the centre of things means you avoid expensive late-night taxi fares and minimise your risk of getting lost part way through a long, drunken walk home.
Barnacles Hostel Dublin has perhaps the best location in the entire city. When they say it’s in the Temple Bar neighborhood, they mean right next door to the actual Temple Bar — you don’t get closer to the action than that!
When we stayed there recently, we found that other key attractions are also within walking distance: Jameson’s is ten minutes away, the Guinness factory twenty, and our conference was half an hour by foot.
The three-storey hostel has 171 beds: doubles, twins, and dorms of varying sizes. The rooms are all pretty small but the underbed lockers keep belongings contained, and the bathrooms are clean and well laid out.I was impressed to see individual reading lights and electricity sockets by each bed in our six-bed room; these are currently being rolled out throughout the hostel. In-room wifi is also on its way — the private rooms on the third floor have it but our first-floor room hadn’t yet been equipped. When I spoke to Shane, one of the managers, he told me that they’d originally decided not to make wifi available in the rooms because the sound of laptop keys tapping might disturb other guests. Now that everyone has a smartphone, though, this isn’t a problem, and wifi will soon be available for all.
For now, though, we had to head to the common room on the second floor, a comfy spot with colourful cushions and the obligatory traveller having a nap on a corner sofa. Information about tour bookings and other services is available both there and in the kitchen on the first floor, where a free breakfast is laid out every morning. It’s simple: toast, butter, jam, but there’s plenty for everyone and you can choose between brown and white bread, which you toast yourself. There’s also juice, as well as a coffee machine, which dispenses drinks for free at breakfast and for €1 during the rest of the day.
I always love not having to make my own bed, and Barnacles linen is an attractive dark red. The mattresses are comfy but the pillows are a bit flat and the aging bunks creak in the night. Apparently new bunks are on order; I hope they come equipped with somewhere to put personal belongings, because my glasses kept falling down the gap between the bed and the wall, almost knocking out Craig on the bunk below! And while the location is obviously awesome, in our experience it also meant that noise from the street filtered in through the window, and bright street lighting made its way around gaps in the curtain. However, these negatives were outweighed by other factors, including friendly staff and a modern key-card security system.
While I’d certainly stay at Barnacles again, and I’d particularly recommend it to anyone who’s in Dublin to party, next time I’ll choose a room on the third floor and get slightly further away from the action of Temple Bar!