Last time I was in Byron Bay (way back in January 2012) I stayed at Byron Beach Resort and loved it, but this time I was visiting with a bigger group of friends and we wanted to be a little closer to town for nights out etc, so we ended up choosing Backpackers Inn because of its close proximity to all the hustle and bustle of Byron, as well as the fact that it’s the only hostel to have its own private direct beach access.
And the Inn really didn’t disappoint. From the moment we arrived the staff were helpful and friendly and the whole place had a really chilled out and welcoming vibe – from the communal eating/drinking/socialising area, to the large sofas and big screen TV, and the fact that pretty much everyone was just hanging out with their dorm doors wide open, the Backpackers Inn was immediately a place you could feel settled and at home.
Now for the nitty gritty. The details and charm of this place are really what make it great (as well as the people, obviously) and a lot of that is down to the excellent layout and organisation of the hostel and the staff who work there. Firstly (and most importantly, in my opinion) is the location and the PRIVATE DIRECT BEACH ACCESS. Yes, I know I mentioned this before but I think it’s really that amazing. There aren’t many places (especially backpacker hostels) where you can walk out of your room and be on the beach in less than a minute – it’s a luxury that most of us travellers can rarely afford. So the beautiful little white sand pathway that leads between the hostel and the beach feels a little like you are about to discover unknown land, much like in the movie ‘The Beach’. The hostel is also just a 5 minute walk from town, meaning that it’s perfect for a night out – you can go out and party and then come back to the hostel and enjoy the peace and quiet of your surroundings. There is parking available if you have a car (just a $20 deposit is required), or if you’re arriving by bus, they have a shuttle that will come and pick you up… for free!
The hostel also has a pool right in the center of it, which is awesome when you’ve just left the beach and you’re feeling all gross and sandy (wash yourself off in the outdoor showers first though please), but aren’t quite ready for ‘real’ clothes or cleanliness…just splash around in the pool and chat to all the people milling about. There is also a BBQ area, a ping pong table, a volleyball net, a big grassy space to lounge about on if you’re not a beach person, and some awesome hammocks dotted around the grounds…this place really is a beach bum’s heaven.
In terms of activities and amenities, Backpackers Inn has it all. They have their own travel desk and can sort you out with a whole heap of stuff, including tours, skydiving, surfing lessons and much more. You can rent a surf board for as little as $20, or you can get a boogie board or bicycle for free for a day! They also put on the occasional evening entertainment – while we were staying there was live music and a pretty sweet fire show – and a few times a week they do a full BBQ for everyone for as little as $5 per person… cheap as chips! As well as all that there are computers available to use for a small fee and there is high speed wifi that works all over the hostel ($5 gets you 4 hours which is possibly the cheapest rate in any hostel I’ve stayed at in Australia).
The dorms are all kitted out pretty much the same, with bunk beds, a fan, shelves and (very) small lockers. The room sizes vary from 4 beds to 9 beds, and they also have private rooms for one, two or three people, so there is something to suit every person or group. The rooms are all adequately sized, the beds are comfy and linen is provided (you can also get a towel for a small fee). We got a 4 bed dorm for $36 per night and (apart from our own untidiness) I really can’t complain. The only two things I would suggest for the rooms is that they have bigger lockers for your larger valuables (at the moment the teeny tiny lockers are only good for a phone, camera, passport or other such small items), and perhaps a sink in each room would be beneficial, as each bathroom only has one sink.
Right, the bathrooms. There are a few bathrooms dotted about – I counted 3 on the ground floor and 3 upstairs. The ones downstairs have one toilet, one shower, one bath, and one sink in each, while the ones upstairs have 3 showers, a toilet and a sink. At first I thought they should have had more showers (because really who ever uses a bath?!), but over our 5 day stay I didn’t once have to wait for a shower – if one was being used, you just find one that’s empty! The bathrooms were always perfectly clean, and in fact, everything in the hostel was clean. Someone comes round the rooms to vacuum once a day (a necessity what with all that sand you bring back with you from the beach) and the kitchen is closed for an hour each day so it can be scrubbed and polished and kept up to the high standard the hostel holds for itself. The kitchen is also very well equipped with plenty of space for everyone to be cooking and eating at the same time, so there’s never really any waiting time.
The outdoor communal area is a great place to sit around and meet other travellers; to have a chat over a meal or a few beers. It’s open all day until 10:30pm when they ask that everyone takes the party back to their rooms or heads into town, meaning that if you’re having a relaxed night in, it’ll be nice and quiet from about 11 (there’s always a few stragglers, right?). This does also unfortunately mean that the kitchen is closed at the same time, so no late night feasts unless you give it a bit of forward thinking and store some sneaky snacks under your bed!
So overall, I would say it’s a pretty sweet hostel, possibly one of my favourites in Australia (and I’ve stayed in a lot). It has everything you could ever want or need to make your stay in Byron the perfect beach bum existence. It’s a big thumbs up from me, and if I’m ever in Byron again (soon I hope) I’ll definitely be stopping by. They even have a video…
Dates stayed: 18 – 23 Jan 2014
Value for Money: 85%