Although you may say we are bias because we volunteered here for 3 weeks we can honestly say hand on heart that Zostel Jaipur certainly lives up to its two year title of “Best Hostel in India”. Its the obvious clean and comfortable but is also super funky with a lively common room and an awesome team to keep it running. After three weeks we really got to know every nook and corner of this hostel and would still highly recommend it to any backpacker or traveller passing through Jaipur.
Having stayed in Jaipur previously in December and being told that our hostel (naming no names!) would be in the Pink City only to actually be a 45 minute walk away we were pretty disappointed. This time around, staying at Zostel, we were slap bang in the middle of the Pink City and so in the heart of the lively pace of life which Jaipur beats to. Zostel is situated on a small off-road from the main Hawa Mahal road – look carefully when you get dropped off as it can be easy to miss. The hostel itself is set above an ICICI Bank, just look up and you will see the big in your face neon orange sign!! From Zostel you can easily walk to the main attractions; the Hawa Mahal or Wind Palace in 10 minutes, the City Palace in 15 and the vibrant Bapu Bazaar in around 20-25. The hostel is surrounded by the all important shopping bazaars as well as street food stalls selling delicious samosas, kachouris and pakoras just around the corner – great for those cheeky mid-afternoon or midnight cravings! Oh and don’t forget the huge lassi’s sold in their traditional terracotta cups – the mango lassi became our absolute favourite!
The Common Area
A soon as you reach the top of the stairs coming into Zostel Jaipur you will notice the big colourful common area on your left hand side. Smiling faces and a copious amount of fluffy pillows greet you ready for a chilled out morning, afternoon, evening or all day for that matter. The perfect place to get a very manic and very loud game of UNO going or just somewhere to chill in the epic hanging chair reading a book or watching a film! The air-con is a blessing in this place, especially during the roasting hot days we experienced – 42 degrees average…dying! Many a film night was had in here munching on salty popcorn or chilling with fellow travellers catching up on the days events and normally always the traumas of the busy Jaipur streets!
As common areas go in hostels in India this is the best we have seen. Its a great space that so naturally brings people together not only helping you to make new friends but to get you involved in the nightly goings on in the hostel. There are also a few sign boards giving you all the information you need to make your stay outside of the hostel one to remember; it has all the top spots to fill your bellies and some off the beaten track sights that Jaipur has to offer!
Its a real treat in India when you check into a hostel and there is a self catering kitchen that allows you the freedom to cook whatever you want and whenever you want. Normally this means there is some kind of respite from the three curries a day diet that is the staple when travelling in India. The kitchen in Zostel Jaipur is a huge space with the cooker, all the necessary utensils and a huge worktop for preparation on one side and benches to sit and enjoy whatever you’ve cooked up on the other. The kitchen is always kept clean (as long as everyone remembers to do their washing up!) so that you feel really at home cooking up a feast and finally indulging in whatever culinary delights take your fancy…or simply just some good old maggi noodles.
Breakfast is also served in the kitchen in the mornings between 8.30 and 10.30am – bringing people together from the instant they wake up; bleary eyed or raring to go! The breakfast costs 100 rupees and is an all you can eat continental including bread, butter, jam, cornflakes, boiled eggs, fruit, tea and coffee. Some people opt to go elsewhere which is fine but for the convenience of a quick, easy and tasty breakfast we think that this really isn’t bad value!
Zostel Jaipur is made up of an abundance of 4, 6 and 8 bed mixed dorms as well as one 6 bed female dorm. Each room has big open floors so that you don’t feel like your on top of each other as is often typical in hostels around the world. There’s nothing worse than not having any space in a dorm room especially in the morning when you have to clamber over bags and people just to get to the bathroom…its happens! Luckily this isn’t a problem here. Each bed is made up with clean white sheets, a plump pillow and a really soft fluffy blanket to keep you snug if the air con gets unbearably cold, which is inevitable during the night when someone thinks 16 degrees is a good idea!!
Lockers are assigned for every bed so there is somewhere to stash your valuable – if you don’t have a lock these can be purchased from reception for 30 rupees! Hot power showers are bliss in the morning and a real luxury if, like us, a budget room or dorm bed normally goes hand in hand with a bucket shower or a cold drip from a broken shower head! However when this is the case you can easily spend 20 minutes falling asleep or just chilling under the hot water so be prepared to be hurried up by the next person waiting…oops! If they it seems like they’ve slipped down the plughole then no fear there are more communal showers on every floor.
If you are travelling as a couple, are friends just looking for a quiet nights sleep or have the inevitable Delhi belly and need a few nights in luxury to recover then Zostel Jaipur also has three private double rooms up for grabs. They are all pretty big in size with a wide double bed, flat-screen television and an en suite bathroom. These rooms sell out pretty quick but are a fantastic way to travel in a little bit more style than a dorm but still enjoy the hostel environment on offer.
There is a wicked open space on the first floor where you can do your own laundry for 100 rupees and have it dried in the Jaipur heat in under 15 minutes….really! The washing machines may have their faults but they work most of the time and the staff are quick to call someone in to get it fixed. If not be prepared to use the back up machine which was last used in about 1950. Ouch. If washing isn’t your thing then this is also the smoking area where people can chill and enjoy each others company on the comfy sofas and chairs. Don’t worry though your clothes don’t catch any of the smell as its a completely open space!
Often unfortunately closed, this space could probably be utilised more…! We held bonfires up there after dark with free chai and biscuits but this could easily be turned into a morning Yoga spot or meditation hangout – obviously before it gets too hot! If its locked and you want to go up just ask one of the staff and they will more than happily give you the key to go and use it we’re sure!
For us, the staff are what really makes this place. Probably for us working there we got to see behind the scenes and first hand the staffs enthusiasm and passion for the hostel and for making sure everyone’s stay is as awesome as possible. Whilst this likely goes unnoticed by your average guest these guys are really what makes the hostel tick over so perfectly – keeping it spick and span, ensuring there is always enough food and water, creating activities and solving every backpacker problem from lost wallets, rogue Uber drivers, delayed trains or simply just where to go next! They know everything there is to know about Jaipur and make every stay smooth from the time you check in to the time you check out…which may be longer than you expect, Zostel Jaipur has a habit of making people extend and extend and extend…
Overall, as budget backpacker hostels go we wouldn’t look any further than Zostel Jaipur. Its a really wicked place to stay (and work!!) and for the price you get amazingly clean, comfy beds with a great common area, activities galore and a wicked atmosphere! This place most definitely lives up to its reputation, so go check it out!
C & J x