A flying experience
I recently visited the city of Porto and had an unforgettable experience. This had been the very first time I visited Portugal. I was very excited as I’ve heard many good things about it such as its food, culture, architecture, history and more. After I booked my flight to Porto, I immediately looked for a hostel to enjoy the two nights there. I looked up a hostel searching website and found what I was looking for.
Pilot Design Hostel & Bar
Pilot Design Hostel & Bar was the name of the place. With a 4.5/5 rating on the website and its relatively cheap price of twelve euros a night for a bed I was sold. Fast forward a few weeks and I am making my way to the hostel. It was a cloudy late morning in Porto. The most convenient and cheapest way to get to the hostel (and the city centre at that) was to take the tram. I bought the reusable ticket and a one-way charge for less than a small cup of coffee.
This ticket will allow you to take a thirty-minute tram trip to the city. Make sure to validate your ticket ‘outside’ the tram. There are little box machines that are standing in the platform area. I had been a little bit confused as most trams I’ve traveled in other countries had the ticket validator on the tram itself. Luckily the ticket-inspector was very kind and understandable. A fellow tourist sitting opposite to me made the same error. We jumped off the next stop, hurriedly scanned our tickers and jumped back into the tram.
After the thirty-minute tram ride, I got off and made my way to the hostel. The walk is about eight minutes and involves an uphill march until finally making it to the subtle entrance of the Pilot Design. The interior reception is beautifully designed. It looked very clean with posters and guitars hanging about. There were some large canvases with many beautifully designed ‘Love from…’ ranging from countries from Kenya to Japan. They had some very comfortable looking lounge chairs placed about.
The receptionists were very polite and very knowledgeable. They could give you advise from the best bars and sights to the best Francesinha’s (Signature dish) in town. Check in is around three in the afternoon but you’re offered the option to keep your luggage safe-guarded in a storage room free of charge right opposite the narrow reception. That is exactly what I did before exploring the city.
The rooms themselves are very cozy and the atmosphere is one of safety and amicable nature. They sport a few different floors. The top floor is the largest with single beds spread around. You will have access to a nearby wall sockets that is comfortably placed next to your bed. A locker for small and important goods like passports or wallets (it was big enough to store my large laptop, so you can place a small bag with all your important items in there). Under the bed you’ll have a large pullout storage box to put all your clothes and luggage. In both the locker and the storage box you’ll need to provide your own lock. The top floor also has its own small lounge area with sofas and a table. Throughout the room you’ll find free standing lamps to use at your own convenience.
I have stayed in many different hostels around the world. Although, this hostel is one of the most welcoming one I have experienced so far. They have daily tours, pub-crawls and offer booking services for ferry rides and wine tours. They even provide you a coupon to try a free glass at one of the many wineries located just south of the riverside.
The showers are clean with a waterfall style shower-head which allows for a refreshing experience. The staircase that leads to the rooms and showers are a bit cheeky with their painted healthy lifestyle advice. One in every few stairs would tell you how many calories you’ve burnt climbing up these steps. On the way you’ll find different motivational sayings about travel and food. While the latter is admittedly generic, the former is refreshingly unusual.
The lounge and bar is the heart of the hostel. The fully stocked bar provides an assortment of beers, spirits and wines (including Porto wines). The prices of the alcohol were very reasonable. You could grab a pint for 3 euros and a port wine glass for 2.5 euros. Perhaps the prices seemed reasonable to me because I’m used to expensive alcohol. The lounge area is directly opposite the bar with many jet-black sofas strewn around tables. The hostel also provides an outdoor area for warm and dry nights. The kitchen is directly connected to the bar area. Its relatively small, however, it sports three sinks and a large fridge to put your goods in.
For a measly three euros, you can take part in the breakfast buffet. They offer five different types of cereals ranging from cornflakes, to almond clusters to Choco-flakes. They also provide bread which you can toast up in their large open toaster. They also have several jams, regualar chocolate and mixed white and brown chocolate spreads to put on your toast. They have a few hotpots filled with cooked mushrooms, tomato’s etc. On a wide plate next to the toaster, you will be provided with different slices of ham and cheese. Overall, I would say the quality is decent for the price paid.
One of my favorite highlights of this hostel is the pub-crawl. For ten euros you are provided with two spirits, a beer, a port-wine taster and a free spirit in every bar we visit. The atmosphere itself is pretty wild. Through the pub-crawl event you are able to meet people from all over the world.
In the bar introduction part of the pub crawl, I became mates with people from Spain, Japan, France, America, Scotland, Chile, Brazil and many more nationalities. The people here are genuinely excited to meet other people from around the world and are open for conversation.
That’s how it all began for myself. A guy was sitting right opposite of me, waiting for his mates. I then decided to strike up a conversation with him and in a few minutes, we were sharing some good laughs. Later on, I was introduced to his mates and the night went on from there. My advice is to not be shy in this hostel and break the ice in a similar fashion as a demolition ball smashes a China shop.
One last thing. If you have any difficulties trying to get around Portugal, the hostel staff will be more than happy and capable to point you out the most efficient and cheapest routes. Overall, I highly recommend this hostel as it is only a five-minute walk to a few touristic sights such as the Lello Library and some beautifully designed churches. It’s a fifteen-minute walk to the centre of the city.
Happy Travelling and drink responsibly.