6-8 Douglas Gardens, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
0131 225 6209
Belford Hostel Rates and Deals
Belford Hostel Edinburgh Reviews
Who wouldn't want to stay in a church? Apr 27, 2010
The idea of staying in an actual church was what appealed to me, and it will to a lot of people, but be warned of a couple of things.
Firstly, the dorm rooms are not locked, and while the staff will keep your precious belongings in their safe for free, I still found this a little unnerving (maybe I'm just getting old)
The other thing is the noise. As you would be aware Churches have very high ceilings and that makes for great acoustics when you're singing hymns and what-not. The rooms are all compartmentalised within the church floor, however (at least on the dorm room I was staying in) there was no ceiling on the room itself. Yes, that's great for waking up and seeing the majestic church ceiling instead of a boring white plasterboard one, but it also means you can hear everything from other rooms as if it was right outside your door. Luckily the hostel wasn't very crowded while I was there but even so both nights had drunk people coming home at 4am making a hell of a racket and waking up the entire hostel on account of the sound from there room being bounced across that majestic church ceiling and into the rooms of everyone else. I'd hate to think what the place would be like in the middle of summer when it is at it's fullest.
But if you can sleep through anything than it's probably worth the visit. I cannot and only managed to get about 3 hours sleep each night due to late comers and early risers. I will give points to the downstairs common room though, which has an all-nite bar, video games, a big seating area and an open plan kitchen. All in all an experience I'm glad I tried out, but I won't be going back.
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Night in a church and bedbugs Oct 19, 2009
When I was combing the web looking for a budget accommodation in Edinburgh, Belford hostel definitely caught my attention. A hostel situated in a converted church - that's definitely not something you see every day. Not giving into the details of the whole arrangement, I went straight for the reviews to see what cons the place had. The opinions, as in most cases, ranged from "awesome" to "horrible", though most of them seemed to mention the bedbugs that supposedly infest the mattresses. Taking a moment to look through the other options, I've figured out that my feet after a day's walk are the best kind of bug-repellent, so I've decided not to miss out on such a unique opportunity and booked a two-night stay in "the church".
The hostel is easy to find, just a 15 min walk west from the Edinburgh castle, it was conveniently located next to the spectacular St Mary's cathedral, a building surely huge enough to be seen from far away, an essential landmark for a topographical idiot such as myself. Leaving my bag at 10am at the front desk and noting that the staff was not as unhelpful as some of the reviewers said, I've head off to the city to be back in my room by the 1pm check-in time.
I've actually paid even less then the booking website quoted, making it a good deal indeed and one of the cheapest hostels I stayed in in Europe, providing I'll be getting a value for my money, of course.
The hostel was all it promised to be - it really was a church. The stained glass windows depicting a mix of Biblical scenes and some latest commemorations were truly spectacular, to the point of it being almost blasphemous to turn such a place into a hostel. But what was the most unique thing of all was the way the church was adopted to the dorm-style setting. The rooms were literally cubicles. The whole inner space of the church was divided into two rows with 5 or 6 rooms on each side, using thin panels as walls. And the best part of all - there was no ceiling, meaning that each room had the roof of the church above it, making the whole setting both scenic and dramatic, but also loud and impractical. A person sneezing at the other end of the church seemed to echo through all of the rooms and casual chatter of the neighbours could be eves-dropped by anyone. The weather turning colder every day, it also raised a question regarding the warmth of the rooms, since keeping the warm air from the heaters within the room was impossible and to heat up the whole church - unreal.
Security was another issue. The hostel entrance had a code-lock door with a 4 digit individual code, however the dorms themselves had no locks whatsoever. Most of the time there was no one at the front desk, making it possible for virtually anyone to enter and exit the building without any problems. Little help it would do me if the person walking away with my backpack would be caught smiling and waving at the CCTV camera on his way out.
The general appearance of the place, taking away the "wow" factor of it being a church, was quite ok, clean as far as the hostels go and had all the essentials. The room was ok as well, mattresses being in a good condition, linen clean and the bed "squeaky factor" within limits. Both nights I I slept with most my clothes on, having caught a minor minor cold just before going to Scotland.
My neighbours were really nice guys round my age, a student from Leeds and a German girl from Berlin, both staying in the hostel long-term. The told me the majority of guests were students, still waiting for their student loans, most living in the hostel for the past few weeks. I've also found out that most employees at Belford were also students or travellers, working part-time as cleaners, receptionists and bartenders at the downstairs bar in exchange for accommodation, even the general managers having permanent residence in the hostel.
The downstairs kitchen, bar and lounge was quite nice as well, with all the necessary kitchen utensils to make your own food, large tables in the dining area, a TV lounge and a pool table. The bathrooms and toilets were also in good condition.
Overall impression from my stay was still dominated by the uniqueness of the building, though the hostel itself was rather average I would say. Definitely worth a visit, though wouldn't be my choice for a long-term stay. Good locations to explore the city. Good bargain for those travelling on a budget. Possibility to get work in exchange for accommodation. Nice way to meet some local students and fellow travellers. Not recommended for those who like their privacy and peace and quiet.
P.S. No bedbugs! :)
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Belford Hostel Mar 01, 2006
I stayed at the Belford for two weeks at the beginning of March 2006.
The hostel is hosted in an ancient church.
It looks quite nice from the outside actually.
Inside is fine, nothing special.
Dorms are the ground floor.
Large common area with kitchen facilities and a lounge with TV.
Warm atmosphere and met some great people.
Patio area below street level which is probably nice in summer but rather useless in winter! :)
As you can imagine, churches have a very, very high ceiling normally.
Most rooms, the dorms, are in that part of the church.
So the ceilings for these are actually, well, back then anyway, were thick plastic sheets!
You will understand that unless you sleep very deep or you sleep with ear plugs, when one of your fellow traveller's alarm clock rings at 6 in the morning, it doesn't only wake him up!
I thought it was a bit chilly too, no heating or very little but it seems to be the norm in Scotland as I have experienced so far.
Just wrap yourself or stay next to the fire place seems to be the way of thinking here! :)
No fire place in the Belford though.
Sat on Belford street, literally 5 minutes walk from Haymarket and 15 from Princes Street.
In the new town, right next to Dean village.
A rather quiet, peaceful and posh area.
Not bad but not absolutely fabulous either.
Aug 23, 2005
It was a converted church. Sitting on the corner surrounded by houses. It is small with only 98 people able to stay the night. The rooms were small (3 bunk beds to a room, which left almost no room to put your bags down). Our room had no areas to lock your bags, which sucked. You had to trust the people who you roomed with. The washrooms were amazing. The showers were clean, no visable mould and safe. I didn't use the laundry, but others were. The kitchen had lockable cabinets and a free cupboard where people could just grab something. The bar was stocked, and the computer was right beside it. There was also a pool table and a movie room. All in all, a very nice stay.
Part of the August 2005 travel blog
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