Sleep and leave: Backpacker’s Inn, Taipei

Tucked in the little corners of Zhongzheng district is this quaint and charming hostel located in central Taipei, which we called our home for the latter part of our trip.

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Others may prefer staying in hotels that have an amazing view of the city, or renting a little apartment in the heart of the capital. Hostels really are a unique and fun alternative to hotels. The fact that they come out (almost) always cheaper is the selling point, but then, they exude this certain vibe and charm that even a five-star hotel could not.

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We had arrived from Taichung early morning that day, and off we hopped on the Taipei MRT to be able to get to Backpacker’s Inn. It was a few minutes’ walk away from the nearest MRT station exit (NTU Hospital Exit 4, that is) and to be more precise, an eight-minute walk from Taipei Main Station. The nearest landmark would be the 228 Peace Memorial Park, and passing through this assures you that you are on the right track. We saw the hostel at a pretty far distance as it screamed bright blue walls. The place is very easy to find, I promise!

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I wasn’t able to take a few snaps of the entrance and reception desk (although I remember a few seconds of it on the vlog); however, the ground floor had free-flowing milk tea and coffee, two touch-screen desktops with Chinese and English interfaces, and space where luggage can be temporarily kept. And, plus points for the wifi available for every floor. So cool, I say!

The staff spoke English pretty well, and they were very much eager to help. With that, nothing else matters as much. Or so I think.

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That chicken-scrawl Hanyu handwriting with fail and ugly strokes you may spot is no one else’s but mine. Haha. Yes, I try too hard. But someone sort of responded (not using actual words, well… go figure!) to what I wrote so I guess that means quite a lot!

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It’s quite a norm for hostels to be artsy, contrary to hotels’ minimalist, elegant, and modern interiors. I like it very much. Such eye candy is a feast to the eye.

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We stayed in the mixed dormitory that probably hosted more or less 12 people. The rooms are very narrow and having a lot of luggage can be much of a hindrance, but then there’s a reason why it is called how it’s called—a backpacker’s inn. They offer lockers as well, but the noise it makes as it is activated with the card can be quite a disturbance. I feared waking up my fellow roommates because of that!

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I tried the lower bunk and I guess I was lucky to be assigned to that. As the room was pretty small, getting up the upper bunk was sort of a challenge. Even if it was a dormitory, a curtain cloth covering each bunk kept you secured. I didn’t expect the mattresses to be soft, but wow, the beds were surprisingly comfy! The bunks individually had a reading light and electrical outlets, which practically deemed to be so useful.

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The bathroom is shared for both female and male, and it can be a downside, depending on how you look at it. Honestly, that really wasn’t much of a concern to me but it was more of the space and limited number of stalls. I never experienced lining up for a shower/toilet stall (as seen on the picture below, they come in one!), but when using the sink in order to brush my teeth or to simply wash my hands, I had to wait in line for that. Amenities-wise, there wasn’t really much to complain about. There were shampoo and soap dispensers available, abundant tissue supply, hot and cold water, and free baskets and blow dryers for everyone’s use.

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I might have to emphasize the very narrow design of the dormitory-type rooms; this corridor is where we did our luggage-packing the day we checked out. It’s clearly not a place for claustrophobic people, and people who lug around a lot of stuff, and that includes us. Haha. Well, we managed, so it was all good.

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I was very pleased with our stay in Backpacker’s Inn, but one thing I missed out on the hostel experience is the actual social part of having to get to talk and know your fellow hostelmates. Part of the fun in traveling is getting to meet strangers who momentarily share the same road with you. It was, well, the main reason why I was eager to stay in a hostel, and I guess that this hostel just wasn’t the place for it—it wasn’t much of a social place, to be exact. But it may have just been me and my situation, because we only spent two days and one night in the place and would leave right after we’d get dressed in the morning. Although from what I know, there is a floor where people could socialize and hang around but it was something I didn’t see, unfortunately, as it was a few floors higher. Well, I did get to exchange smiles with the people in my room, and a few sorry’s and bu hao yi si’s were thrown here and there because of the unintentional squeaks and bumps we caused. Haha.

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For first-time hostel users like us, this hostel was the perfect choice that suited just what we needed! Its reviews online would reveal that it isn’t anything extraordinary or even close to an exceptional one, but with it being a decent hostel at a very convenient location, a stay here solely meant for sleep and shower would do you well. I like giving some feedback, so I posted a positive review online and gave it four stars. And I repeat; if there’s that one remarkable trait of this hostel, then it would be its location. It’s a five-minute walk to the nearest MRT station, and a good ten-minute walk to the bus station that has fifteen-minute intervals of departure to Taoyuan Airport. As this hostel leans toward the average side, there may be better options that offer a more meaningful hostel experience, but it’s really the location of this hostel that would make me want to stay here again. If you’re the type that doesn’t sweat the small stuff, then this hostel’s a perfect match. And for less than a thousand yuan per night, that’s certainly a great deal.

Call it adventurous, unconventional, or pretty weird, but being able to experience staying in a youth hostel has always been something waiting to be ticked off my bucket list!  Not only was that goal fulfilled without having to shell out much, it turned into a reality in my dream destination! I definitely love the idea of bunk beds, sharing dormitories with fellow travelers and tourists who hail from places around the globe, and a simple sleep-and-leave approach—all that fun that comes with a price tag you can never get from spending an evening or two elsewhere.

Backpacker's Inn (formerly Packer's Inn) // 贝壳窝青年旅舍 
No. 84, Huaining St. Zhongzheng District, Taipei // 台北市中正区怀宁街84号

Alight at NTU Hospital Station Exit 4, red line >> Pass through 228 Peace Memorial Park >> Turn right to Huaining St.
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