Let’s start this hostel review with the fact that these guys have called their hostel Hump Backpackers? Can we talk about about that please? By the look of their logo I’m guessing they’re trying to reference a humpback(packing) whale, but even so, I don’t really get it, although seeing as they are located in the heart of Kings Cross (Sydney’s very own Red Light District) maybe they’re trying to make a (very bad) pun on the word Hump. Who knows?
So you might be thinking, hmm, Roo doesn’t seem so impressed already and we haven’t even gotten onto the details of the hostel itself, so why on earth did she voluntarily pick this random hostel with the weird name? Well I can honestly tell you that I have no idea. It had about an 80% rating on Hostelbookers, a mix of good and bad reviews (as most hostels do), was relatively cheap ($35 per night for a 4 bed dorm), and was in an area that we knew and liked (we lived about 2 minutes away from Kings Cross for the last 4 months), so we just chose it, booked it and hoped for the best.
Unfortunately our hopes were dashed pretty much on immediate arrival. Firstly, there were stairs. Lots of them. I know it’s not really the hostel’s fault that there isn’t enough space for an elevator, but lugging our (very heavy) suitcases up the stairs wasn’t really my idea of fun. Luckily the staff at Hump are actually very lovely and helpful and one of the big burly boys carried my bag all the way up to the third floor…what a hero. That was one major redeeming quality of the hostel actually – the staff. They were all very friendly, funny and helpful, always saying hello, offering tips and jokes to brighten your day, however their positivity didn’t quite outweigh my overall negative impression of this place.
As I mentioned earlier, we stayed in a 4 bed dorm room – we wanted a private room for 3 so we could be as messy and noisy and ridiculous as we liked but Hump apparently don’t have a room for just 3 people which was a bit disappointing (although actually they don’t seem to be the only hostel in Sydney that doesn’t…a 3 bed room seems to be quite the rarity in this city) but not really avoidable. Our room was very, very tiny, with just about enough room to put our bags down and still be able move around the 2 sets of bunk beds. My mattress was also possibly the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever slept on in my life (and I’ve slept in a LOT of beds around the world)…but actually, I could see the springs through the sheets, let alone feel them! I moved beds as soon as our room mate left and my next bed was perfectly comfy though, so maybe that mattress was just an anomaly. Aside from being small however, the rooms are adequately equipped – you get given sheets on your arrival, there are huge lockers (one for each person) that just require a padlock and there is a sink in each room, a great addition for any hostel dorm room, meaning that you don’t have to wait in line for the bathroom just to brush your teeth.
Next up, the bathrooms. There are bathrooms on each half floor – usually 2 toilets (sometimes 3) and 2 showers – and extra showers on the 2nd floor in the laundry room (have I mentioned that this hostel has a bit of an odd layout). The bathrooms are fine in terms of amenities, but are an absolute disgrace in terms of cleanliness. And I’m being totally serious here when I say I have never experience a bathroom quite so disgusting – it’s been a long time since I’ve wanted to wear flip flops in the shower, and I’ve worked at a summer camp with kids! The bathrooms were always filthy, with dirt and hair and water and grime all over the floor ALL THE TIME, and there was never any toilet roll. You’d end up trying about 4 different bathrooms before find one that was fully stocked. I know that the hostel houses a lot of people, but it’s really not that hard to just give the bathrooms a once over at least once a day right?
The kitchen was also a bit of a disgrace. It’s pretty small and just ridiculously messy all the time. There were 2 ovens and 2 sets of hobs, 2 microwaves, 2 kettles and 2 toasters but only one sink. The fridges are always full and heaps messy, the surfaces always have a lovely film of dirt all over them and the one available sink is always piled high with everyone’s dishes. There seemed to be no enforcement of doing your own dishes or cleaning up after yourself and people just didn’t really seem to care, because the staff didn’t seem that bothered either. The kitchen also doesn’t have anywhere for you to sit – you have to take your meals to either the lounge area where there are sofas and a few tables, or to the outside (very small) courtyard area. However, the courtyard area is filthy and is also where everyone goes to smoke, so unless you like your food with a side of cigarette smoke, the lounge is really your only option in terms of place to sit and eat (the hostel don’t allow you to take food to your room), and it can often be pretty crowded in there with people hanging out or watching TV.
Hump does have a few redeeming qualities though. As I mentioned before, the rooms are adequate enough (as long as you get a good mattress), and the location is pretty good if you like being in the party capital that is Kings Cross (although this does mean it can be quite noisy at night). There’s quite a good vibe and banter between all the backpackers and the hostel itself tries to maintain this by hosting live music nights in their Blue Room (basically the party and drinking room), cheap BBQs, as well as providing free drink offers and nights out. There is also free breakfast every morning between 7 and 10am on weekdays and 9-11 at weekends, which consists of cereal, toast and various spreads as well as the occasional specialty of eggs or pancakes. There is a huge lounge area with comfy sofas, tables and possibly the biggest TV I’ve ever seen with more channels than anyone could ever need. Laundry is available for a small fee ($4 wash, $4 dry) and of course, like a lot of the Kings Cross hostels, they provide reasonably fast wifi for free, which is always a selling point.
One last thing to be noted about Hump is that it has recently been taken over my new management and they seem to have a lot of grand plans for upgrading the place, including installing air con in every room (which would be a massive plus as the rooms were HOT at night) and (hopefully) tidying up the kitchen and bathrooms. But who knows how long all of that will take…it’s a massive job!
Dates stayed: 28 – 31 Jan 2014
Value for Money: 60%