First Accommodation Attempt: Pre-Granada Inn Backpackers
“We’re not a party hostel.”
I stop writing, remove my earphones (which are whispering the soft ballads of London Grammar into my ears) and look up from my solitary short pour of wine. For the past half hour I’ve not said a word.
“Sorry?” I frown a little, confused.
“We’re closing this area now. It’s nearly midnight.” The hostel manager points at the clock on the wall to prove his point. He’s right about the time but I’m still confused by his party reference. I look back at the screen where my half-written article sits in wait and I’m kind of irked to be torn from my flow, but his substantive message is clear. He wants me to leave.
“I didn’t realise you closed up here at night,” I apologise. “Is there somewhere else I can go?” All I want to do is throw the words that are currently pretty well-formed in my head into my article before they untie themselves into gibberish.
“It’s really clear online. And there’s a notice here.” Again, he points. This time to a piece of paper on the door, which is about a foot above my line of sight. I hadn’t registered it before. Nor had I seen the details online…not that I was checking. Across my many years of travel, I simply wasn’t used to being sent to bed for quiet behaviour.
“We’re not that kind of hostel,” he reiterates, pointing at my glass. I look at my poor, mis-judged wine, wondering if he’s somehow seeing a line of jagerbombs. Partying is the last thing on my mind…in fact, what was on my mind – the next paragraphs of my article are already slipping away.
“I don’t want to party,” I feel the need to clarify. “It’s just that I work and travel, and this is my best time to work.” I point at the clock; not to be facetious – he seems to like illustrative props. But he’s no longer looking, he’s upturning chairs around me so I stand and gather my things.
“Normal people sleep now,” he eventually replies and his words are cutting. I may no longer fit the category of “normal” if by that he means people who live by the 9-5, but I still have just the one head, like most human beings.
“Well,” I breathe for a bit of calm, “I don’t do what most “normal” people do,” I look around for a visual prop for “normal” but nothing presents itself. Instead, I continue to justify my late hour. “I sightsee during the day and at night I write about it.”
“When do you sleep?” His question isn’t kind, it’s accusatory. We’ve strayed right into territory-too-personal, but I’m sufficiently flummoxed that I answer. “If I need to, I take an afternoon nap.” Surely he understands that, we are in the country that invented the siesta after all, but he responds with a look that tells me I’ve just doubled his assessment of my abnormality.
I end up in the atrium. It’s a frigidly cold space and the light is on a timer set for a meagre 30 seconds before it flips back to darkness. After the first dozen times getting up to re-illuminate the space, I resort to simple candlelight. It all feels rather Dickensian, though my work is not nearly as good; not least because my previously cogent chain of though has long left me, as has the circulation in my hands, which are slowly turning blue.
I close my laptop and sigh at the sounds coming from the common room – the manager and owner’s laughter and chatter. Apparently the “normal” people aren’t sleeping yet either. Defeated, I head to bed. I’m frustrated, but above all I’m cold. Too cold to care. But I resolve one thing – tomorrow I’ll leave.
The accommodation needs of a digital nomad – no more than you average 21st century traveller
I accept that as a digital nomad I have particular needs, but they are not much greater than most 21st century travellers. Wi-Fi, a place to sit, and shelter from the cold (still high on my list as my hands have a vague tinge of blue). Personally, I’ll add a fresh supply off coffee to my needs and I’m set. For hours at a time.
Really, it’s not much when you list it. Sure, a business hotel might fulfil my needs more, but there is something about the solitude over an extended period that cuts my creativity off at the knees. It’s been proven – a certain level of background noise can enhance activities like writing, which can make a hostel common area the ideal space to work.
Plus until my experience in Granada, I’d never had a problem working on the road before. Sure, wi-fi can dip in and out and drinking games around a common-room table are high-risk for both my concentration and laptop’s longevity, but for years I’ve made it work. From time to time, when I need the focal precision of a surgeon, I will go hermit in a hotel. I’m doing it right now. It can be productive and restorative, but it’s usually my choice and on my terms. Which is what annoyed me most about my hostel in Granada.
I wasn’t asking for much. I certainly wasn’t asking for a party (though I’m not against the idea from time to time). I just wanted my accommodation to understand me and…well, accommodate me and my needs.
Finding a place that suits a traveller’s many accommodation needs
The one thing travel has taught me is that people of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, wants and needs roam around this planet, and I meet many of them in the hostels and hotels where I stay.
The other thing I’ve learned is that not all accommodation is alike. In fact, quite the opposite, with places planting themselves as squarely as they can in one kind of accommodation category or another. Party hostels, flash packer digs and more homely home stays. It’s no different with hotels. In my former life, I stayed at Lowes on the Beach in Santa Monica specifically for the cocktail crowds, the Bellagio for the fountains and Morton’s House in Dorset for a more tranquil, 16th Century vibe.
Read a dozen different hotel/hostel descriptions and the corresponding reviews and you’ll very quickly be able to spot the difference. Do they promote design features or proximities to the local clubs. Do the reviews mention noise (parties) or culinary tours? Sometimes I’m in one mood. Sometimes in the other. But most of the time I’m changeable. I can’t (and won’t) programme my plans to suit my surroundings. It’s part of the point of travelling, isn’t it? To be able to act on a whim and go with whatever mood takes you?
So, the thing that I appreciate the most in a place I stay is not it’s niche in one camp or another, but it’s adaptability and flexibility to be all things to all people regardless of their quirky requests and individual needs. Of course, after hundreds of stays in places around the world, I appreciate that this is a rare beast in the accommodation world. And yet, it a rarity I was lucky enough to enjoy at my replacement hostel in Granada.
Granada Inn Backpackers: accommodation that can accommodate…with cheese and bacon
You’ve probably heard of six-degrees of separation? Well, there is something similar in the travelling world: I like to call it one-degree of accommodation.
Pretty peeved with my first choice of place to stay in Granada, I didn’t trust my reactive-self to book somewhere better, so I reached out to my travel friends. If there is a group of people who know the best places to stay, it’s the people from the travelling world. A quick Facebook message later and, courtesy of a fellow travel blogger, I had a name: Granada Inn Backpackers.
I wasn’t in the most upbeat mood when I arrived. I hadn’t planned to switch accommodation while I was in Granada and, as dull as it sounds, I’d missed out on some precious working time in the process (don’t underestimate the hours it can take to check-out, cross town and check into a new place without moving city). With work on my mind, I probably wasn’t the cheeriest customer to stroll into the reception at Granada Inn Backpackers but my mood improved instantly.
I was too early, I knew that (the standard check-in time in Spain is 2pm, and I was there practically first thing), but the bright smile from Lucas at reception was a great start. Within minutes he’d housed my bag, given me the low-down on the free activities, shown me the swanky patio area with outdoor heater to counteract the February chill (no more blue hands – yay!). But most vitally, as though he could see into my soul and divine my true desires, he unveiled a full pot of free, fresh coffee that came with a complimentary side-order of superfast broadband. I’d been there five minutes and I was in accommodation heaven…yet things got better still.
Granada Inn Backpackers has a different accommodation model to the other hostels in Granada. Indeed, different to most other hostels around the world. Sure, Granada Inn Backpackers has dorms and privates rooms, like most other places, but it was the hybrid style of accommodation that intrigued me the most. As they say most charmingly on their website: “Would you like that dormroom with cheese and bacon?”
Luxury apartments: The Bacon and Cheese at Granada Inn Backpackers
As well as the standard room types you might be familiar with at a hostel, Granada Inn Backpackers offers something more. Apartment styled accommodation. Superior to the standard dorms but without the cost or solitude of a private room, Granada Inn Backpackers’ apartments are perfect for solo travellers who are happy to spend a little more to get a lot extra from their accommodation.
I actually wowed when I stepped inside my apartment – something I hadn’t done since I stayed at The Island Hostel in Bali. The space was vast and the area equipped like…well, an apartment. On the left, a double bed stretched on long, solid legs into a loft-like area while a sociable sofa rested underneath. A kitchenette lined the back wall and was accompanied by a dining-room table and chairs, which were ideal for small-group dinners (if you didn’t want to use the larger, communal kitchen and patio area) or, as my needs determined, great for room based work. Outside of a hotel, it’s so rare to have dorm desk space and I was elated.
Next-door (yes, the 8-bed space got bigger and was thoughtfully divided by a proper wall) lay more beds, an armchair that begged to curled up in with a good book (or several games of flappy birds) and an incredibly swish en-suite. (So swish, in fact, I had to get someone to show me how the beautifully designed shower worked – my ineptitude, not the fault of the designer). And with prices from only €17 euros per night? As my ex-lawyer kiwi colleague would have said – Sweet-as.
After drinking enough coffee to be able to tap out a blog post with my twitching toes (I really shouldn’t be left with a pot of coffee without adult supervision), I checked in and for the following days I tested Granada Inn Backpackers on every level of my traveller needs.
I worked; I played (the staff took a bunch of us guests to a late-night bar we wouldn’t have found on our own – first picture in this post); I ate (tapas crawl – staff recommendations); I worked some more; I cooked; I took the free walking tour (up amongst the cave houses ); I went for a run; I spent hours chatting with other guests and the staff and…when the mood took me, I hibernated in my room where I read and I slept.
For the almost week that I stayed at Granada Inn Backpackers, I engaged in all of my favourite activities without concern. Nobody questioned my normality. I was never told to go to bed early, to work less, to socialise more, to party less, to eat out instead of cook or explore the sights when I was in the thick of a good book.
The accommodation was luxurious, clean and came with a very decent breakfast but it was the treatment and attitude of the staff that really seized me. At Granada Inn Backpackers, I was simply able to be all of the conflicting and differing characteristics that make up me.
Finally, I’d found the rare beast of accommodation that could accommodate me.
What do you look for when you’re choosing a place to stay? Do you ever feel like your accommodation needs aren’t met or have you found somewhere like Granada Inn Backpackers that accommodates its guests so well? Let me know in the comments below.
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My stay was courtesy of Granada Inn Backpackers. My opinions, as always, are my own and my mum will testify to the fact that I am (sadly, from her perspective) beyond external influence or control.