It was drizzling when we arrived in Zadar, and the polished stone of the streets of the old town were treacherously slippery. We slid our way towards our hostel, the Boutique Hostel Forum, but completely overshot it, distracted by the ruins of a ROMAN FORUM on the other side of the narrow street.
When we finally made it to reception, we were met by a friendly member of staff who we heard switch between at least three languages without blinking an eye.
She checked us in and tucked our security cards into a little booklet that had information about what to do in Zadar and a few choice phrases in Croatian (“you have beautiful eyes,” and “the best hostel ever” vied with “hello” and “thank you”).
Our cards gave us access to both our room (a four-bed dorm) and our under-bed lockers. Most of the rooms in the hostel are laid out as ours was, and it’s impressive: the four beds (two up, two down) are in the middle of the room, accessed by a U-shaped walkway with doors into the main corridor at each end. There’s a separate bathroom and shower, one beside each door, and a floor-to-ceiling window gives spectacular views of a church, the forum, the sea, or a combination of all three.
The bunks are like little cabins, with a square opening on the side for access and another at the end so you can enjoy the view from the comfort of your bed. Each is equipped with a mirror, a shelf, a reading light, and electricity sockets, and you can close yourself in completely by pulling down the blinds. The beds are made up in crisp white linen and all guests are provided with a towel.
Impressed by our sleeping space, we headed out to explore the hostel’s common areas. The TV room with its wide steps covered in foam pads was a popular place to hang out, and the three-storey terrace garden would have been nice if it wasn’t raining, but we spent most of our time in the kitchen. The five or six tall tables were a nice place to eat breakfast or dinner, but there was only space for one person in the kitchenette itself and we often had to wait a while to be able to do our washing up. However, that was a small price to pay to get access to a kettle for coffee, a microwave, and a small grill that I used to reheat the delicious burek that we’d bought at the bustling bakery down the road.
We both slept well in our little pods, not disturbed by noise from the street as the thick windows shut it out (though the sound of other guests having a loud conversation in the corridor could be heard). In the morning, we were surprised to find two blue paper bags beside our beds, filled with delicious pastries… Ah. This was the “breakfast to go” that we’d been promised! If you’re staying in a private room or two-bed dorm, you get a full (delicious) buffet breakfast, but dorm dwellers don’t go hungry either.
It really feels like all elements of the hostel have been carefully considered, and the result is a comfortable, well-designed space in a great location — and at €18 per person for a dorm bed or €80 for a private room, you’re getting luxury at a low price.