The Best Hostel In Edinburgh

They say you will never forget your first hostel. Well, I don’t think that is precisely how it goes but I like it better than the alternative. For me, my first hostel experience was in 2018 in Edinburgh, Scotland at the Castle Rock Hostel. My friend had recommended I stay there during my upcoming trip, talking it up and it got points for being right by Edinburgh Castle! As time grew closer to my trip, I was nervous and excited to be staying in a hostel. This was also my first international solo trip as well so my anxiety was through the roof. But as I stepped off of the train in Edinburgh, I took the first step to the best hostel in Edinburgh! 

Walking from the train station, through some streets of the Royal Mile, I found that I kept getting myself turned around. Edinburgh is a very walkable city as I would come to find out, but those first few minutes in the city were stressful. I finally got on the right track and stumbled upon my home for the next night. Since I was a little bit early for check-in and being a novice hostel guest, luggage storage rooms were a foreign idea to me so I was so happy when the girl behind the check-in counter offered to take my bag and put it in the room so I wouldn’t have to take it out exploring with me. When I got back from the castle to check in, there was a different person than before, but they were still just as helpful and nice. I did ask them a pretty stupid question that if I would have done my research, I would have found the answer to, but they were still kind to me, which I appreciated. 

I stayed in a four-bed female-only dorm. It was on one of the top floors and there was no elevator. I made the trek up the stairs to my room. All the beds had different themes and mine just happened to be Bond, James Bond. By my bed, there was a framed picture of the movie poster You Only Live Twice with none other than Scotsman Sean Connery. After I got settled, I went and checked out the lounges. They had a few different ones that all had their own vibe. One even had a grand piano! The toilets and showers are separate from the rooms so when nature called, I went and that changed the trajectory of my whole night and part of the next morning. I just so happened to be staying at Castle Rock on a Thursday, which is their pub crawl night. I was debating going cause one: I was by myself, in a different country for the first time ever, and was in my head way too much. Two: they were also having a movie night and playing a Disney movie. And three: I had to be up at 5 am the next morning to go on a highland tour. But in that communal bathroom, I met my best friend for the night. We got to talking over how much our jackets looked alike and how we had seen about every other woman wearing the same type of olive green jacket that day. She asked if I was going to the pub crawl that night and I was hesitant, but she encouraged me that we should go! Well, that was a no-brainer; I could sleep when I was dead! My first hostel and pub crawl in one night!

7:30 pm rolls around and it is time to meet in the main lounge for the pub crawl. The best hostel in Edinburgh knows what they are doing when they start this party. It starts with a free drink and a drinking game and only gets better from there. There were some pretty awesome pub leaders with us that night that knew how to have fun but also knew they were responsible for this crowd of people. We went to five different pubs during the night, but I will tell you now, I only made it to four. But that story is for later down the road. My new friend and I had a wonderful time at the different pubs, talking about life, and meeting new people along the way. When we went to a new place, the hostel leaders had free shots for us already lined up. So by the time we got to the fourth and final one for me, I was feeling pretty good. This also happened to be a karaoke bar. Everyone was choosing great songs from Africa to Bohemian Rhapsody, and then it was my turn to choose. I knew it had to be a real crowd pleaser since I had some stiff competition. In the end, there was only one option: Wannabe by the Spice Girls. Everyone was singing along and dancing so I knew I made the right choice. When we got to the fifth pub, I couldn’t find my ID to get into the pub. I had been putting it in the same pocket of my purse all night, but now, it was nowhere to be found. My friend and I went back to the last place and looked there to see if I had accidentally dropped it, but we couldn’t find it. We somehow got split up, so I made my way back to the last pub and the hostel leader told me I could walk back to the hostel since we were pretty close to it. So there I went, 2 am, walking alone, a little tipsy down the streets of Edinburgh. I made it back safely to the hostel, sat in the lounge, and started rummaging through my purse, my ID had to be in there. Turns out, it was stuck inside of a cardholder so I was relieved to have found it but annoyed because I wanted to still be out with everyone at the pub. I messaged my new friend to make sure she had made it back and she did. I quietly made my way back up to my room. My other 3 roommates were sleeping so I literally tip-toed to my bed and went to sleep in my jeans and t-shirt.

When my alarm rang at 5 am, I quickly shut it off and sprang out of bed. I gathered my things in a stealth-like manner, still wearing my clothes from the night before, and went down to check out. The person who greeted me with “good morning” was just as friendly as all the other workers I had met before. As I turned to leave, I looked at the “Welcome to the Rock” sign one last time and smiled to myself, thinking that if this is as good as my trip gets then I would label it a success because I accomplished what I sought after: having fun and meeting new people. While my time at Castle Rock Hostel was less than 24 hours, it has not only the title of best hostel in Edinburgh in my book but is my favorite hostel I have stayed at ever! From the rooms to the events to the people, it definitely made a lasting impression on me and makes me want to stay at hostels wherever I go, even though I know they can not hold a candle to my first hostel.

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