- Friendly staff, keen to make guests feel at home
- Clean bathroom facilities
- Great bar, open from 7am to 3am
- Clean, spacious room with locking doors
- Central location, close to attractions
- Few bathrooms shared between rooms
- Bottom bunks can get a bit cramped
- There are LOTS of stairs to the top floors
- Bar can be a little pricey
I went to Rome last month, for four days – a quick trip, nestled between hectic work schedules and a typically unstable income. Now, as a 24 year old female (and a pretty tiny one at that), I regularly cause bewilderment by disappearing off around Europe on my own.
‘But it’s not safe,’ friends and family members cry, ‘women shouldn’t go travelling alone, just think about what could happen!’
Fortunately, I’m a feminist and I don’t believe any of that nonsense. However, what it does mean is that I have to think very carefully about where I choose to stay. I don’t generally have enough money to stay in hotels, so you can usually find me sharing a cheap room in a hostel.
In Rome, I stayed at an utterly charming place called The Yellow. In fact, it was so charming that I’ve gushed about it to everybody that I know since coming home – and I’m going to gush about it to you.
The Yellow, on the Via Palestro, is precisely the kind of place that can and should reassure lone travellers that going solo can be bags of fun. I’m not going lie, there are awkward moments – sitting alone at a bar, or in a restaurant can feel very weird at first.
This is why you are better off opting for a hostel with its own bar (so you can dash back across the street to your room, if you can’t bear the thought of drinking alone for more than five minutes), or a hostel which organises its own daytime and evening activities. The Yellow has both of these things, and it ensured that my little trip to the ancient city was a truly memorable experience.
The basic idea is that, with a hostel, you get what you pay for – and most are dirt cheap. However, my experience has always been of getting much more than expected, and The Yellow was no exception. I shared with just four people (all female), in a spacious room which even had a personal wall charger, a nightlight and a little shelf for each occupant. Unusually for a hostel, there was no extra charge for using the wall safes in the room either. The lockable crates beneath the beds did require a hired lock, but I quite happily took all of my valuables out my rucksack and tucked them into the safe.
A lot of people are put off staying in hostels, because they assume that the facilities are bound to be terrible or unhygienic. This is absolutely not the case, especially if you pick your hostel carefully. Whilst there were a fair few times when I had to wait for the toilet or a shower (there were only two bathrooms between three rooms), the facilities themselves were extremely clean and satisfying. The showers were hot, easy to use, and didn’t have that annoying economy timer that you often get in hostels, where the water cuts out every three to five minutes.
This is the bit of The Yellow that really made the difference to me, being a solo traveller. The hostel had its own bar, right across the street from the rooms, which was open from 7am to 3am, and served the best vegetarian wrap that I’ve ever eaten. I can be a bit shy sometimes, so I told myself I didn’t need to spend any time in the bar. However, on my first night in Rome, I got a bit stir crazy in my room and decided to take a look – I am very glad that I did.
Within the space of a pint of Poretti, I was talking to a fellow solo traveller from Brazil. Once she left, I found myself chatting with a backpacker from Morocco. The bar at The Yellow is hip enough to be interesting and cool, but laid back enough not to intimidate, and I loved that. Plus, the food was unexpectedly delicious, and the bar staff were all extremely easy on the eye. I never felt uncomfortable, awkward or alone in the bar, and that is something that makes a lot of difference when you are travelling alone.
I paid around 8 euros per night to stay at The Yellow, which equates to around 9 dollars, or 6 British pounds. This is extremely cheap considering the price of most budget hotels, but it is around about the standard for a lot of the more inexpensive hostels. In other words, if you are keen to travel around Europe on the cheap, do your research and you can make it happen. However, in Rome (and in a lot of other European cities), there is a citywide hotel tax in place. This means that you will have to pay an extra charge, per night, on top of your total bill. It is nothing to do with the hostel, and it cannot be gotten around unfortunately.
There are some cities which don’t have a city tax, and there are lots of hostel that will incorporate it into your total bill before you decide whether or not to make a booking, so don’t panic – just read all of the information on the website that you want to book with. In Rome, the city tax is 3 euros per night, so I paid an extra 12 euros.
The Bottom Line
I, personally, recommend solo travel to everybody – male or female. It is the perfect chance to get away from it and all, and just get lost in your own idea of a holiday. There is nobody to spend an hour dressing up for in the morning, nobody to care about how flattering your choice of trekking outfit is, and nobody to take away from what is actually quite an achievement.
Whilst it can be scary at times (getting lost in the dark in the heart of Rome didn’t exactly fill me with delight) the fact that I managed to make my way home without help made me feel very proud and very strong. I have lots of great friends, and I look forward to travelling with them some day as well, but I must admit that I quite like being all alone in a big city, with the world at my feet.
If you can find a hostel as friendly as The Yellow, I think you might like it too.