Personal hostel with sauna as a bonus
City Backpackers Hostel offered precisely the kind of casual stay and fun vibe that one could want from a hostel experience. The only real snag during the stay was the loud live music, which made it impossible to go early to bed. Despite that, I am eager to forgive after having taken advantage of the free sauna.
All opinions are my own. I paid for this stay in full and had checked out before revealing that I wanted to review it. If you book your stay through a link in this review, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you.
City Backpackers Hostel at a glance
So many hostels try so hard to achieve a personal look. City Backpackers Hostel perfects that mix of fun and vintage but doesn’t even look like they’re trying. The casual, friendly attitude is everywhere, from the receptionist taking his time to guide me to the best experience, to the unique-looking decor and relaxed atmosphere. The crowd is definitely on the younger side. Most people hanging out in the common areas seemed to be in their 20s or early 30s during my visit.
The hostel has 27 rooms. Most of them are mixed or women-only dormitories, sleeping 4-12 people, but there are some private rooms and even apartments to rent.
The Location – quiet but convenient in the center
City Backpackers Hostel is but a few minutes away from the Central station. This makes the hostel convenient for accessing trains, the subway, buses, and airport shuttles. The immediate surroundings can seem quiet, but you have plenty of bars and restaurants in the area. Is shopping your thing? Then you’ll be delighted to have the main shopping street Drottninggatan nearby. All in all, this makes it a suitable location for those who want to live in the city center, within walking distance of most attractions.
The Reception – a relaxed and friendly first impression
”So, this is the hostel.” The map looked like an ant hill. Luckily, the guy in the reception took his time to tell me about the hostel and even marked out how I should walk to my room. His relaxed and friendly attitude matched the impression I got from the hostel’s decor. Old luggage trunks, retro art, and travel memorabilia contributed to the atmosphere.
The hostel offers activities for the guests. Some free, some paid they include walking and biking tours, quizzes and games. You can also rent a bike from the hostel if you prefer to explore the city on your own.
You can check in from 14:00 and check out before 10:00. The check-out time feels early, but you can always shower and hang out at the hostel for a while after check out.
The Room – decent standard but no luck for early sleepers
I booked a bed in four-bed women’s dormitory for 360 SEK, plus 35 SEK for bed linen and towel (paid on location), breakfast 75 SEK, staying 5th-6th of July 2018.
All rooms carry the names of Swedish islands, and Riddarholmen turned out to be a bright, spacious room. It didn’t contain more than two bunk beds, a chair, a makeup mirror, and four lockers. It was, however, possible to sit on a built-in bench by the window which faced the patio.
The bunk bed could have been more comfortable but was decent, and the pillow was a bit lumpy. Apart from a trendy industrial-style lamp, you got two electrical sockets by the bedside. A shelf would have been useful, so it is a good idea to bring a small bag to hang on the bed for things you need handy.
There are plenty of toilets and both communal-style and private shower rooms. They were a bit worn but overall fresh when I visited.
When I returned to the hostel shortly before nine this Sunday evening, the outside patio had become lively with bar guests and a live band. Unfortunately, the stage was on the other side of the wall. Despite earplugs, it felt like the musicians were in the same room. I dealt with it by having a shower and then writing until the gig ended at 23:00, but I felt for the jet-lagged girl trying to sleep below me. Although I heard the music in the common areas on the floor below, a room underground would have been better although not perfect. If you go to bed early, then this is not the place for you.
The Facilities – guest kitchen AND a sauna? Heaven.
Now, let’s come to the real advantage of staying in an ant hill-looking hostel. The general lounge area by the reception is just the start. There are plenty of areas for hanging out on the ground floor and basement floor, with access to stationary computers in some of them.
On the ground floor, the large and well-kept guest kitchen offers plenty of seating and free pasta for everyone. There’s even a fridge for each room.
But, let’s get to the crowning glory: a sauna section. And it is free. The sauna is turned on in the evenings – but make sure to check the sauna schedule in advance (it varies between men, women, and mixed). The sauna felt clean and fresh and even had sturdy brushes for dry-brushing or showering.
The general cleanliness of the common areas was adequate, especially considering that so many people were moving around. The only less-fresh side was the small hallway where hostel guests leave their shoes before entering the guest quarters – the sweaty trainers were hardly smelling like perfume.
If you want to grab a bite, the hostel had special deals with restaurant and bar Nomad, which is next doors and shares the patio. The patio turned out to be a popular place for hanging out and enjoying the summer evening.
The Breakfast – high-value and generous continental breakfast
Breakfast was served 07:00 – 10:00 in the reception. The area offers a few tables with seating in the windows but doesn’t seat that many people. However, there’s always seating elsewhere in the hostel if the reception area would get too full.
For 75 SEK you’d get yogurt with granola; a fruit salad; a bread roll and cheese, ham or jam; juice and coffee or tea; and a cinnamon bun. The cinnamon bun impressed me in particular – it was far better than I would have expected on a breakfast bar (and sadly, in many cafés). If this is the breakfast you want, then the price is unbeatable. Bonus points for the daily (Swedish) newspapers.
Who should stay at City Backpackers Hostel?
Compared to nearby hostel Generator Stockholm, City Backpackers Hostel was slightly more expensive when I booked it. But, value-for-money was higher, and it feels more genuine and personal. And, apart from the guest kitchen with free pasta, you have a sauna. What’s not to love?
The only downside to this hostel was the loud music at the gig which went on until 23:00. If you want to go early to bed, request a quiet room or look at staying somewhere else.