If you are the kind of traveller that frequents hostels, you’ll be used to this familiar scene: plaster peeling off the wall, damp spots on the ceiling, bilingual scrawling on the walls and communal areas full of eternally saggy sofas that are imbued with the musk of hundreds of travellers before you. Well, not so if you happen to chance upon a brand spanking new hostel like the one that has just opened in central Nagasaki.
Sister to the Nagasaki International Hostel Akari, the Route Hostel opened on the 7th of August 2015. I stayed there a few days later (one of the first guests they’d ever had – if not the first) and the smell of paint was still lingering in the air. It was refreshing to stay in a hostel where everything was totally new and unsullied – quite an accident as we never planned to stay there.
The hostel is just a few minutes walk from the JR Nagasaki station – perfect if you are arriving late in the afternoon or need to catch an early train in the morning. Located on the side of a steep hill, you have a charming view of St Phillips Church and the Museum of the 26 Martyred Saints (once you look beyond the roadside public toilets, that is.)
The modest cafe at the entrance (also the hostel reception) serves a selection of drinks and a couple of food options, as well as offering a breakfast option (closed on Mondays.) You can also rent bicycles from the hostel – just under 1,000 Yen for 3 hours, 1,500 Yen for the day or 2,500 Yen for two days. While Nagasaki is not a particularly flat city, its size makes it perfect for navigation by bike if you’re into that sort of thing. I however prefer the dedicated tram system of Nagasaki.
The dorm is described as a ‘delux cabin-styled room’ and that suits the accommodation perfectly. Dorm cabins are the only style of room available – no double or triple rooms here – so it’s perfect for the lone traveller or for groups who like their privacy. Each floor has 5 cabins – the cabin has a spacious single bed (which was very comfortable indeed) slotted between the walls, and at the front the sliding door can be locked from the inside by the switch or from the outside with a key. For the security-concious, this is a great system as it is safer than leaving your bags in a dorm room that is completely out in the open. There is even a mini-safe in each cabin to hide your passport, money and other small possessions.
As well as the row of five personal cabins, each floor has a toilet and a shower room, and a small but fully-equipped kitchen area (microwave, fridge, sink, hob, pots and pans…) There is also a seating area overlooking the church view that gets the best of the evening sunlight.
As for price, the cabin rooms are 3,900 Yen per night (4,500 Yen on weekends and 4,900 Yen in high seasons.) While this is a little more expensive than the most down-to-earth dorm rooms available in big Japanese cities, I think it’s worth the extra to have a bit more personal space and security, as well as the living space on each floor. At the time of my visit, it looked like only one floor of cabins had been completed, but the upper floor was in the progress of being finished. With a capacity of only 10 or 15 guests in total, this hostel is a very relaxed and personal environment for travellers that want to see the sights on a budget but don’t want to be bothered by hordes of gallivanting student-types that so often frequent the large communal dorm rooms of hostels.
The Route Hostel was a pleasant surprise – I don’t usually stay in dorm rooms but the luxury style cabins were much more to my taste. The location of the hostel was very convenient, and the staff were very friendly and gave us some good recommendations of things to do in the local area, and even helped us research bus routes and timetables online. I thoroughly recommend the Route Hostel, particularly while it’s so brand new!
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