I’ve been a little lazy recently when it comes to updating the blog. In fact, I’ve not written anything since I wrote my review of Brisbane City Backpackers hostel about six weeks ago. Unsurprisingly, it’s pretty hard to write about travelling when you’re at home waiting to go travelling again. Anyway, here’s my review of Airlie Waterfront Backpackers (figured I may as well write these before I actually forget what the places are like…)
My two weeks in Brisbane came to a rather abrupt end when me and a couple of my roommates decided pay two lads we’d never met before to borrow a battered old car and head towards the north of Australia. A foolish move some might say. Luckily, my driving skills were still passable (if not a little rusty) and we lived to tell the tale. You can read about that particular episode of my travels here if you wish.
Airlie Beach is the departure point for trips to the Whitsunday Islands, and with that in mind I booked an initial two nights at Airlie Waterfront Backpackers (which soon turned to seven – a theme that followed me throughout my travels) on the recommendation of a mate who had stayed there a few months earlier.
It’s pretty tough to be poorly located in Airlie Beach seeing as the place seems to be made up of two roads and a lagoon. However Airlie Waterfront was located on the esplanade, which is just about far enough from the main road with the pubs and bars on and the huge roadworks which make the place look and sound like a bomb site. It’s only a two minute walk, but when you’re struck with the man flu (or burnout from two hectic weeks in Brisbane) that I was, it was an absolute godsend.
There’s also a Domino’s Pizza with a backpacker offer of $5 pizzas and a bottle shop just a minute away. Perfect.
The only gripe I do have with the location, and it’s a gripe with Airlie Beach in general, is that the nearest Coles supermarket was a good half hour walk away. There is a privately owned supermarket on the main road of Airlie Beach, but their prices are extortionate – even by Australian standards! It’s definitely worth walking or getting the bus to Coles, which is situated on a retail park with quite a few handy shops nearby.
This was a bit of a weird one. The hostel itself seemed to be located in some sort of food/shopping mall, so there were a number of restaurants and shops on the ground floor by reception. Sadly, none of the restaurants were really aimed at the backpacker market and were therefore out of my budget.
There wasn’t any real socialising area outside of the dorms apart from a seating area where WiFi could be accessed, and a thin balcony on the second floor which sadly seemed to be used very rarely. I guess most people use the hostel for a short stopover before their Whitsundays tours and therefore there isn’t much opportunity to socialise.
I need to give a special mention to Mary on the front desk however, who is an absolute star. From the minute I arrived, I felt extremely welcome and at home. She went out of her way to make conversation with everyone who entered the hostel, and was extremely helpful when it came to booking excursions.
Another positive was the fact I booked a ten bed dorm, and upon arrival was upgraded to an eight bed room, with a private balcony, two showers and an en-suite toilet – a relative luxury for backpacking in Australia!
As mentioned above, there’s not really many places to socialise in this hostel, and the amount of bars in close proximity mean that it’s more of a place to sleep and get ready more than spend too much time. It serves a real purpose, but being a hive of social activity isn’t really one of them.
It must be said though that I did make some good mates in my dorm, as well as sharing with a creepy old racist. Swings and roundabouts.
Having just arrived from a city centre hostel where rates were expectedly high, it was nice to be paying $20 for the room described above. When you consider the close proximity of the hostel to everything and the cleanliness of the rooms, I think this is more than reasonable. It was also a bonus to not have to pay a cutlery deposit like in Brisbane!
All in all, I would recommend this hostel. Whilst it has it’s downfalls (the lack of social areas or any real atmosphere), it is close enough to anything that can make up for it. I would particularly recommend Magnum’s for a few drinks and some live music (as well as a wet t-shirt competition won by a grandma…). Despite not feeling too good whilst I was there the hostel provided me with everything I needed and helped me book the highlight of my Australian trip – my tour of the Whitsunday Islands.