We’ve already established the fact that I’m not a backpacker, nor am I smitten with dishing out big dollars to make travel happen. Dressing me up for a fancy five-star meal is about as natural as putting a cat in a wool sweater.
I like somewhere in between, that delicate line between grungy and rich snobbery.
Nat and I decided to stay a few days later in Prague after our Contiki trip wrapped up, and being as poor as we are, looked to share a private room in a hostel somewhere. Miss Sophie’s caught our eye because it looked fancier than most hotels I had ever stayed in. Plus it was a short subway ride to the town centre.
We could have opted for the cheaper dorm rooms, but my nerves were coming apart at the seams. Shortly before we moved from our hotel to Miss Sophie’s, I was sitting in the hotel’s lobby trying to cram in a couple hours of work. Hundreds of children of all ages started spilling into the area, apparently in town for a national dance competition. I sat there horrified as eight year olds ran circles around me, screaming at each other in foreign languages, while I tried to catch up on a week of backlog.
See. You don’t deal with that shit in a hostel. I’d rather take on the drunken tourists any day.
Anyway, Miss Sophie’s places an emphasis on art, somewhere “between luxury and thrift.” Seriously, our room was far more impressive than about 90% of most generic hotels I have ever stayed in. Our room had everything from a coffee maker to a huge-ass couch. The lighting was all motion sensor activated. Every time I walked into the bathroom I’d wave my arms and yell, “LUMOS!”
And their morning breakfast? Blows other hostels out of the water. We had to book our eating time in advance, and headed down to the basement where a boisterous Czech woman whipped up French toast, omelets, and all kinds of breakfast delights right in front of us. We sat around a communal bar with folks of all ages. We met a bunch of friendly elderly tourists from the US, who were fascinated by mine and Natalie’s respective career paths. You pay a little extra for the grub, but it’s worth it.
We asked one of the driving forces behind the Bohemia Hostels family, David Baker, to take us on a little tour of the rest of the premises, and to tell us a bit more about Prague. Across the street from our room was another building where most of the dorm rooms are located, and family units. Their other hostel, Mosaic House, takes on the same designer qualities as Miss Sophie’s. It’s also a green machine, being the #1 eco-hostel in the Czech Republic.
We paused at the restaurant/pub here for a pint of Pilsner and to partake in one of the many “Happy Hours.” Seriously. More than one Happy Hour. This place has a bit more of a backpacker vibe, and apparently the pub gets a lot of traffic in the evenings. If you’re travelling alone, it’s a good option.
The staff also receives a gold star for being incredibly helpful and accommodating. On my last day in town, I was desperately trying to find a post office to mail off some postcards. Instead, the lady at the front desk took care of it for me.
Bottom line: You don’t need to spend a small fortune to enjoy the hostel life, even in Europe.