|Paris' Gare du Nord: pretty, but very cold|
after dark in February, mostly due to a large
surplus of windows and open doors.
Photo credit: Evan Bench/austinevan
The image in my mind's eye of the unknown hostel took on a dark, sinister quality and by the time we'd found the building, the next few nights had begun to seem like the rest of my life. Then we stepped into Wombat's The City Hostel - "The Base" and I started to relax. In a lobby furnished with a bright red phone booth straight off of a London street corner and a reception desk that looks more like it should be setting up adventure tours than handing out room keys, it's difficult to be nervous about your surroundings. And once you talk to the friendly staff (who further endear themselves by handing you a voucher for a drink at the basement Wombar), glance at the spacious, colorful breakfast room and arrive in front of a bright blue door decorated with a fiercely pink sign declaring the room beyond it a "Pink Wing" (female-only room), it's all but impossible not to feel at home.
|The Riesenrad, a Vienna landmark since its 1897 construction.|
The next afternoon, after a day of chilly sightseeing and lots of coffee, we followed our Australian roommate's directions back from central Vienna - straight up Mariahilfer Straße back to the neighborhood where the hostel was located - with no problem.
|One of Vienna's tributes to Mozart, in the|
Burggarten, which I would have loved to see in
the spring, with the flowers planted in the treble
clef in bloom.
Instead, I had friends - old and new - to eat dinner with, write postcards and debate literature and politics with in the Wombar downstairs in the evening and eat breakfast with in the morning before braving the bone-chilling February weather. Wombat's The City Hostel - "The Base" in Vienna is one of my two favorites out of all the hostels I've stayed at, and I feel very lucky to have had my first visit to a hostel be in such a clean, well-run, comfortable and welcoming one, with people who showed me what a great experience a hostel stay can be.
Wombat's The City Hostel - "The Base" is an easy ~2km walk or a short subway ride from Vienna's city center. Rooms range from private doubles and triples to six beds, and female-only rooms are available. Each room has its own ensuite bathroom with shower, and bed linens, luggage storage and in-room lockers are provided free of charge. The hostel is open 24 hours, with no lockout or curfew, and there are both pay-as-you-go computers with internet access and free WLAN connections available. What my friend and I were most amused by was the vending machine in the lobby that sold everything from t-shirts to condoms. There's also a coffee vending machine that makes warming up on chilly days much more pleasant! I don't remember what we paid, but room rates seem to have stayed very reasonable, currently ranging from €12,00 to €20,00 per person per night for a four- or six-bed room, depending on the season.