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Edinburh Eglington (Scotland)

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18 Eglinton Crescent.

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      22.02.2005 18:54
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      <>GETTING THERE <> We drove up from Manchester and after 4 and a half hours in a minibus, the last thing we were up for was trailing the streets of Edinburgh looking for the hostel, but thanks for AA routeplanner directions and a Satellite Navigation system someone had swiped from their boyfriend, we found it quite easily. The hostel is near the Haymarket train station which in turn is about 10 minutes walk from roads you could call the city centre. Shops and restaurants are nearby, but the well known and/or decent looking ones are mainly a quarter of an hour trek away. The hostel can be found at 18 Eglinton Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 5DD <> CHECKING IN <> Whenever you arrive you have to ring a bell to be let in – there’s one from 7.30am until 11.30pm, and one for the night, but we tended to get the best response by always ringing both. Once buzzed in, you veer right to the reception desk, passing a useful enclave of leaflets, maps and brochures on the way. We had booked 3 rooms – one for 4 people, one for 10 people and one for 12 people, and they provided us with keys for all these though in actual fact our numbers had dropped and only just over half the team had come along. The keys are electronic ones which come in little plastic wallets which tell you about the hostel’s main features (breakfast, sheets, curfews). Unfortunately lots of the keys failed to work so we had to return to the reception to have these reset, so the brownie points they would have got for having had our keys bundled up ready for us on arrival were quickly removed. The keys did not specify any particular beds, so it was a bit of a free for all – fine for us but potentially a problem if you were booking beds rather than rooms and sharing with other groups who got there first. <> ROOMS <> The building is a large, old, possibly Victorian one which has 2 residential floors above ground, and a breakfast room in the basement. The rooms are old-house size, i.e. nice and big, and the one I slept in had a surprisingly fancy ceiling, such as you might find in a minor city theatre. Our room had a bay window with 3 parts, none of which opened. The heating was also on full blast when we got there, but despite it being mid Feb, we were boiling so quickly turned it off and left it off for the duration of our stay. The room had 12 beds of which we took up 10, using the remaining two to house our excessive baggage – it’s amazing the number of changes of clothes you need for trampolining competitions: warm up gear and competitive gear, and slobbing gear, and going out gear. We had 3 rather subdued looking hooks which barely held our coats, and no other storage or hanging space, though this varied from room to room with some having makeshift wardrobes. The only moveable things we had in the room were 6 sets of incredibly sleepy bunk beds which gave of sounds of naughty things even when you were just rolling over in bed or trying unsuccessfully to get changed for a night out beneath the privacy of your quilt. Some other rooms also had sinks and mirrors, but ours did not, and it just seemed to be the luck of the draw where you ended up. The beds came made up with a pillow, quilt in a rather nice and plain blue patterned cover and bottom sheet. The plethora of ops on this site may have you believe that I’m an experienced traveller, but one thing I’m definitely not experienced in is the world of youth hostels, so it took one of the other team members to show us before we figured out that pillow cased pillows then went inside the bottom sheet you took from reception, which in turn went on top of the real bottom sheet. If you wanted a top sheet, this was the same style, like a fake sleeping bag, with sewn up sides that make you feel all tangled when you wake up. <> COMMUNAL AREAS <> Towels could be hired from reception, and on each floor were washing facilities, some separated by gender, and some not. So we had mixed loos and sinks in one room, individual showers a bit further down and, for some reason, a room of gent’s showers right next door to us. Why the men got specially separate rooms I don’t know, but maybe there’s some strange Scottish logic behind it. The showers were variably good – variably powerful and variably hot. In general, they were bearable, but conked out very quickly so you had to keep pressing the start button. The water pressure was more quick-rinse strong than hair wash-condition—rinse strong, but no worse than other hostels of dodgy Eastern European hotels I’ve stayed in. Downstairs there were several lounges, some with TVs, which were normally empty whenever we arranged to meet in one. We spent Saturday night waiting for the drag queens to put on their make up, watching Stars in their Eyes, and no one not from our group came through the door the whole time. There are internet terminals in one lounge which let you surf for £1 per 24 Broadband minutes which seemed reasonable, though whether or not it worked I can’t say as we coped without email for the whole 48 hours we were there. <> FOOD <> Breakfast was available for a fee - £2.40 for continental, £3.90 for full cooked. Having a day full of bouncing ahead of us most of the group went for the former which included an icky slice of ham, two alarmingly yellow pieces of processed cheese and all you can manage toast, cereal, apple and orange juice and hot drinks. It wasn’t a bad selection for a hostel – they had butter and margarine, several different jams and honeys, crunchy and smooth peanut butter and nor was it overly expensive, but something about the words ‘all you can eat’ just make you feel you’ve not got your money’s worth when you have to stop after half a dozen slices for fear of puking. The hostel had no other meal provision apart from a few snack and drink vending machines in one of the lounges, but there was a large residents’ kitchen available for anyone who did want to cook. <> VERDICT <> As youth hostels go, it was fairly nice is basic. The rooms were clean, and the bathrooms and toilets didn’t make you feel queasy when you walked around them in bare feet or socks. The staff on the front desk were generally helpful if a little hard to understand at times (that may be just me though – broad Scottish and/or something obscure and Eastern European accents don’t flit through my brain easily the way thick German ones do). The lounges were nice and unique, and a change from typical hostels, but they didn’t really promote a sense of togetherness, so if you were out to meet other travellers you might have had trouble – something the lack of an on-site bar also contributed to. For our purposes though, it was fine. The hostel felt secure at all times – they have staff in 24 hours a day, and though there’s no curfew, the doors are in actual fact always locked so you need to do the bell ringing thing to get in. The breakfast was reasonable, and, as optional, not something you’d feel obliged to eat every day since you were not paying for it in with the room rate. The location wasn’t smack bang in the centre, but was near enough, and a taxi across to the uni – quite a way away – was still under £10. The location is lovely – on a residential ‘crescent’ approached by cobbled streets, and the rooms were quite enough though shouting types next door would come across as loud enough to wake you up, and the showers next door would then be sufficiently noisy to keep you awake. Beds cost from £12 per night, you don’t need to be a youth hostelling member of any kind, and if you take enough people (which starts from only 4, so isn’t that many) you can book an entire room all to yourself. Rooms have to be vacated by 9.30am but you can keep your stuff in them if you’re staying another night, so though that’s early for some, it’s only an up and dressed time, not an up, dressed and packed one. Lockers, if present, were not obviously visible, but being the only ones in our room we would have had no need for them anyway. Though not a luxurious place, it felt budget rather than cheap and nasty. Recommended. http://www.syha.org.uk/syha/web/site/Hostels/EdinburghEglinton.asp

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