Travel Report: Hatters Hostel, Liverpool.
Hatters Hostel, Liverpool.
May 2019. I’ve stayed in some incredible hotels and guesthouses during my travels over the past twenty years. But unfortunately, it can’t always be glitz, glamour and sweeping balcony views. After an amazing couple of nights at The Hard Days Night Hotel, I decided a cheap and cheerful downgrade was in order for my final evening in Liverpool.
Sometimes you just have to muck in and grab a budget option. Following a bit of research, I settled on a stay at Hatters Hostel, where a bed in a mixed dormitory can go for as little as £10 a night.
Situated right in the heart of Liverpool city centre on Mount Pleasant, Hatters Hostel sprung up in 2009 from the abandoned carcass of the Liverpool YMCA Building. Study the exterior today and you can see the original tiles spelling out The Liverpool Young Men’s Christian Association.
Built in 1846, this grand old building became the world’s first custom built YMCA. It provided shelter for the city’s homeless and was a support centre for runaway children. Moreover, the institution hosted evening school classes for the underprivileged. Staggeringly, I read one article that suggests its gymnasium, unveiled in 1880, was at the time the best equipped sports centre in Europe!
Hatters Hostel, Liverpool.
The building suffered considerable damage from bombing during the Second World War. While community services went on hold, American serviceman used the YMCA to shelter injured servicemen preparing to return to the United States.
After an extended period of repairs, it reopened in 1956 and continued to operate until 2007 when the new YMCA centre opened on Leeds Street. Having stood empty for a couple of years, the Hatters Group eventually stepped in to renovate the building into one of Liverpool’s most popular hostels.
When you check in at reception, one of the first things you’ll see is this giant painting of George Williams, the English businessman and philanthropist who founded the YMCA. Incidentally, he is the great grandfather of the current British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. As for the hanging hat installation… well you know…. Hatters Hostel. Get it?
Happily, check in was a breeze thanks to the friendly Spanish guy at reception who was full of jokes and offered me a donut. Don’t mind if I do. I had read numerous irate reviews online about overbooking, but luckily this wasn’t the case that day.
Where to Stay in Liverpool.
To the left of reception, there’s a huge common room with a study corner, lounge area and bar restaurant from which they serve their famous £5 breakfasts. I didn’t get around to sampling their food, but I can confirm that everything looked top notch. And guess what, the complimentary WIFI actually works!
Before hitting my dormitory, the receptionist lent me the luggage room key so that I could drop my suitcase off. It was a relief to be rid of the damn thing, which was bursting at the seams with all the stuff I’d acquired from a year living in Southern China.
It had been such a long time since I’d stayed in a hostel, I’m talking years. But to be fair my 3rd floor, six bed dorm was clean, orderly and not quite as boxy as I’d been expecting. Nevertheless, it didn’t take long for me to realise why I rarely bother with hostels anymore.
First, some twat had chosen to ignore the fact that he’d been allocated a top bunk and simply took my lower bed. The aforementioned twat was also in the bed at the time of my arrival, sweet wrappers and underwear peppering the duvet.
I cannot tell you how much I despise negotiating the upper part of a bunk bed. Down at reception, the Spanish dude rolled his eyes and searched through his booking system. “Ugh, this always happens”.
Hatters Hostel, Liverpool.
It took just a few minutes for him to transfer me to another room. Installed in my new dorm, I was keen to start peppering my own bed with unsightly items, in order to eliminate the possibility of another invasion. And then it was time for a shower, the dorm bathroom certainly getting a thumbs up in terms of facilities, cleanliness and humour.
With an empty dorm that night, I fell asleep in no time, the background buzz of the city rapidly melting away. However, all that changed when my drunken dormmates returned at 3:00 in the morning. This, I’m sure you’ll understand, is why I haven’t been back to a hostel since. Nine times out of ten, this is what happens when you book a dorm. I should have known better.
“Shaun, where’s the ****ing light?”
First the lights came on, followed by half an hour of faffing around. Lockers opened and closed, the bathroom door swung back and forth. Drunken moron 1 couldn’t find a plug socket for his phone. Drunken moron 2 opened the window and lit up a cigarette.
Then… the final insult… they launched into a twenty minute chat about their tedious night out chasing a pair of disinterested women. Until I told them to give it a bloody rest. What can I say, I really liked Hatters Hostel and its fascinating history. But from now on I’ll always be digging just a little deeper into my wallet when it comes to accommodation.
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I love how the title sounds!
Yeah, it has a nice alliterative ring to it!
I love the bowler hat lampshades and the lift humour! The bricked up windows and the lower bunk thief, not so much!
“Ugh, this always happens”. 🙂
Ha, cheers Nick! I must have been mad as a hatter to stay at this place.
Ba dum tsh!
For a mere £10 all this could be yours – man, it would take a stronger will than mine to resist this kind of offer! Happy travels, Leighton.
You never really know what you’re going to get when you book a night in the hostel! I think I’ve only ever had one experience that didn’t involve some sort of late night wake up or unfortunate disaster haha. But, as they say, you get what you pay for!
You’re right Katie. No wonder I haven’t been back to a hostel since ha ha.
Well, the actual building looks stunning and the lounge area too. Good to read about your experience and the contrast between the upscale Hard Days Night Hotel. I’ve only ever stayed in a hostel once and that was on a Geography A Level field trip to the Lake District. It seemed fun then because it was just school friends sharing the dorm. Around the same time I spent two nights in a tent and that put me off for life! Hope you have a great weekend. Marion
Ha ha, the only thing worse than a hostel is probably a tent. And I haven’t done that since my experience sharing a one man tent on a beach in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Thanks for following and commenting throughout this Liverpool series Marion and have a wonderful weekend!
Ahh, Marion and Leighton … I think it’s time that you two come to South Africa! My husband and I will take you on an unforgettable camping experience – in a tent!
Ha ha I’d be up for that. Does the tent you have in mind come with a jacuzzi? Just kidding. (Unless that is possible, then I’m not kidding).
Hmm, maybe not a jacuzzi … but you’ll have the wide (cold) Atlantic Ocean on your doorstep 😉.
Wow! We stayed in a hostel in France years ago..not a great stay.
I think you reach a certain age and it’s a case of, oh boy, really don’t need to do this anymore.
I love the outside of the Hatters Hostel (and the history behind this is amazing). Yeah, hostels… we had more than enough of that on our two Caminos in Spain and Portugal! It’s exactly like you’ve said, there’s nothing wrong with the hostel, but your sleeping companions are mostly the problem 😜. I remember sharing a dorm with almost 40 other hikers. And guess what, it was the most peaceful night of our entire Camino … yes, even I was surprised! But I guess when everyone walked a total of 20 or 30km on that day, you’re guaranteed a good night’s sleep 😉. Enjoyed your story telling of your stay in this hostel!
I am trying to imagine sharing a dorm with forty other people! Thanks for reading and for your contributions to all the Liverpool threads.
Ahhhh, the dreaded bunk thief, close relative of the airline window seat thief, the stadium seat thief and the I know I’m late for this presentation, but I’m gonna squish in the front row, so move over thief. Whoever coined the phrase Bold is Beautiful did not have this in mind. As you say, an experience not to be repeated. Thanks for sharing. Allan
Aah I love the idea of the lower bunk thief having a place in some kind of social degenerates family tree! Hope you’re having a good weekend.
What a beautiful old building full of history and humorous signs. Only stayed at a hostel one time and the drunken crew came in about 2:30. Oh, wait that was us in Kosice. Maybe that is why we never tried it again. Too bad you didn’t get any photos of your roommates. Hope your next series is as enjoyable as Liverpool has been.
“That was us in Kosice” ha ha. Thanks Memo, I’m hoping the next series pleases in equal measure, although some of the content is certainly not “fun”.
Hostels located in historic buildings really bring that extra charm to the city you’re in! I stayed in an old manor-converted-hostel in Ghent, and it felt like being in the 18th century! It’s been a while since I last stayed in a hostel (when I last traveled, haha), and although the prices can’t be beat, at this point, I’m ready to pay more for peace and quiet. Hostels tend to cater to 20 and 30-somethings, the majority who are not the most considerate nor self-aware when it comes to respecting the space (or bunkbed!) of others. I’m over that, and now with more income, I’ll just put up in a hotel!
Quite right Rebecca, we all reach that stage where you just feel, enough is enough. Thanks for following this Liverpool journey through from start to finish. Have enjoyed all your contributions!
At least you have a good story to tell and learned some cool history! I haven’t stayed in a hostel before, I don’t like the thought of sharing a bathroom haha.
Ah yes, the shared bathroom. That’s one of the main reasons Sladja and I have never stayed in a hostel. It’s a deal breaker.
I’ve only stayed in a hostel once. It was in Barcelona about three years ago on an overnight layover. The dorm experience wasn’t bad but more privacy and less hassle is usually worth paying more in a hotel.
Interesting to see that most readers haven’t had much hostel experience. Cheers John!
The best thing about the hostel is the humor that’s all around! I guess that compensates for all things people go through over there! But it sure seems like a very delightful place.
Loved this post again!
Thanks Divi, I think you’re right. When I regularly frequented hostels back in my early 20s one of my favourite things about those stays (other than the price of course) was the camaraderie. Made quite a few friends who turned into travel buddies on those early trips. Thanks for reading and commenting!
At first I was so confused when I read the word hostel with such an incredibly beautiful building as the picture. And the elevator was very clever. But what a terrible experience to have when all you probably wanted was just to have a good night sleep!
Yeah it wasn’t the best night’s sleep. I really had to bite my tongue, something I’ve never been very good at ha ha.
Great post, Leighton! Nice to read about your great experience! Interesting images!!
Thanks for reading Jyothi!