Getting a bit tired of paying way over the odds for weekends cottage rentals we decided to try a hostel last weekend. I managed to find Cnocnafeola a hostel in the Mourne Mountains on the internet. I wonder how we used to find places pre-internet, for so many things now I along with millions of others automatically turn on the computer to research any number of things.
I had forgotten the pleasures of staying in hostels. One of the great things is chatting to other people. One of the awful things about hostels is also other people, but more of that later. I always find it a bit difficult when I go walking somewhere I haven’t been before. It can be hard to know the best routes, on Friday evening I got talking with some guys who knew the area well and I got some great advice for starting points for some loops. The other great thing about this hostel was the maps and routes in every room. They have a folder with ten of the most walked routes in the area with full descriptions and maps, many others could take note of this it was a great help.
One of the first things to note is how much hostels have changed over the last 15 – 20 years. No more cleaning the hostel yourself in the morning. I used to always find this part a bit strange – you would pay whatever it was to stay over night, but on top of that everyone would have to clean part of the hostel in the morning, ah the 1980’s.
The new and reborn hostels are a new breed that bears little resemblance to the drafty old tin huts that I remember in my distant past. We now have fully stocked kitchens, flat screen TV’s, big comfy armchairs, private rooms, and yes my favourite – private rooms with your own toilet and shower. This last part was the part the killed off my use of hostels in the past, having to share facilities with others is not really what I want on a long weekend away.
Cnocnafeola goes one step further. You want breakfast? What about a packed lunch or diner? Order in advance and all you food needs can be catered – hostels in have in my mind now turned into something between Bed and Breakfasts and hotels. I am a fan of the new breed. I will be back at Cnocnafeola, with only an hour and a bit from Dublin it is an easy drive up the M1 on a Friday night.
And the annoying people? This one is always my bug bear when staying in hostels. Some people want to start walking at the crack of dawn, and of I do mean the crack – somewhere about 5.30am – but do they ever consider that some of us don’t want to hear their every word and the slamming of their doors as they get ready in the morning, please…
So well rested after walking for three days it is time to get back to work, have a good week.