And in Mongolia I returned to the ol’ ‘hostel’ experience. Which I have to say, was pretty bally splendid! It’s been a long time since I can say I stayed in a place that was good in so many aspects as ‘Zaya Hostel’, in the Mongolian capital of Ulaan Baatar.
Firstly I was met by a friendly driver at the train station after a long train ride from Beijing. Which is a nice way to start because really after more than 24 hours aboard a train it’s great to have an easy way to make it to your hostel.
I had pre-booked through their website, and was staying at ‘Zaya Hostel 2’. I went with a ‘single’ room (but it was also a double) as dorms are no longer what I’m looking for. Believe me, the way I snore, I am doing many people a favour there! The original Zaya Hostel (number 1) I didn’t get to see, but we did swing by there on the tour I did, and it’s not as central as number 2.
The hostel is on the second floor of a (mostly) apartment building. Arriving in a temperature of less than 5 degrees, entering the building was an experience because it was very warm in there. In fact, it seems policy in ex-Soviet countries to heat you interiors to the maximum level imaginable. Thank god for windows is all I can say. Basically, it seems the policy is – if you are inside, you should only need a t-shirt and shorts.
Incredibly warm and welcoming owners/managers there. So much time for their guests to talk about tour possibilities, Mongolia, and politics and anything else I cared to chat about as well. Had me signed up on a tour to Terelj for the next day with an overnight in a ger (yurt/tent) and actively looked for others to go so I didn’t have to pay the whole thing myself. Also – I had booked for four nights but when I booked the tour he took off the night I wouldn’t be staying at the hostel which he was under no obligation to do.
$US30 for my room per night, and it was very spacious and as nice as any room I would have in Russia, Mongolia or China. Lovely big bed, nice bathroom, and the whole place was extremely clean. I had an issue with the shower head but I told the manager and he replaced it straight away.
A couple of nice common areas, one with a giant TV. Two kitchens, one for staff and preparing breakfast and another for guests’ use. I took advantage of that. Met a few other guests as well when doing it.
Located just off ‘Peace Avenue’ which is the main drag. Five minutes from the State Department Store (very nice, not nearly as ominous as it sounds!) which has a big supermarket inside. Buses run up and down the road and you’re only a couple of stops from the main square. If you like walking quite a bit of Ulaan Baatar is reachable by foot. There is no shortage of taxis either.
All in all, this is an excellent base when you are in Ulaan Baatar, with plenty of information and help at hand. It’s warm, clean and extremely comfortable and friendly. Loved it!
Value for Money: 4/5
TOTAL: 21/25 (84/100)
Thanks for reading – May the Journey Never End!