Budapest could have been tough. One traveler we met recounted tales of backpackers wandering the cityâ€™s streets in tears unable to find a place with an open bed during the spring/summer high season. This whole limited accommodation thing is baffling to long-term travelers who appreciate the freedom of the road and the ability to show up in any city on any given date without fear of sleeping on the streets. In keeping with my tactics for other East European cities, I emailed a number of places hoping to find a comfortable option for our three days in the big city.
Fortunately, Andrew Slater, international marketing manager for the Mellow Mood Hotel Group, notified all the Mellow Mood hotel and hostel managers that the Six were coming to town and I got friendly offers from many of them. We opted to go with the Domino Hostel based on the fact that it was conveniently located in the central tourist area, had dorm rooms for 6 (so we could occupy an entire room ourselves), and was brand spanking new (a big plus in the hostel world).
A quick 5 minute bus ride from the train station followed by a 7 minute walk and we were standing on the impressive historic doorstep of the Domino. As promised, the room was light and bright boasting new Ikea bunks (shades of the boys old bedrooms) and huge windows with views to the main tourist drag in one direction and the mighty Danube in the other.
The bathrooms were clean and never lacking in hot water (another big plus in the hostel world). The womenâ€™s facilities were just outside our door while the menâ€™s were at the far end of the hall. Usually we have no problem with shared ablutions, but a couple French guys on our floor were fond of walking the halls in their Speedos. Even this was bearable, but when the rod for one of the shower stalls broke, one insisted on using the stall anyway and took great enjoyment in facing out toward the sinks as he washed. His bravado was a little disconcerting for Tom and the boys, so they tried to avoid the bathroom during the Frenchmenâ€™s appointed shower hour. Ah, the joys of hostel life!
Our favorite fellow guests were a childrenâ€™s choir from Minnesota who practiced in the hallways and on the rooftop. It was almost as if we had a backstage pass to the Vienna Boysâ€™ Choir. McKane managed to upset the chaperones, however, when he ran up and down the stairwells singing in his best high-pitched choir voice imitation. It seems they had a hard time keeping track of their charges and his noise only made their task more difficult.
We were happy with the Domino since it offered us easy access to the cityâ€™s public transport and affordable digs right in the center of the action. While hostels are not for everyone, theyâ€™ve become an integral part of our long-term travel strategy. Though the architecture didn’t allow for as much interaction with fellow travelers as we like, we’d recommend the Domino without hesitation.