First of all, I think I need this review by saying I cannot be completely unbiased about this hostel, I will try to give my personal review of it and will highlight good and bad points. This was my second hostel in Australia and compared to the first it was a haven and I stayed there for 2 months.
The Old Fire Station in Fremantle, Perth, Western Australia in a nutshell is an extremely wise choice as your starting point in Australia. Many go straight to the west coast, personally I would advise against this and if you listen to me, go to Fremantle, and to what is known locally as the OFS. Reasons for this are in their hundred but here are my favourite:
- Lots of people staying here are starting and ending their journeys in Australia and those ending are full of wisdom and those starting are full of enthusiasm and this is where you meet your travel buddies, get contacts for farms, discover routes and make the best of friends all while working in a wonderful area of Perth and saving some money to visit the (much more expensive) east coast.
- The staff are fantastic! During my time there, I was lucky enough to meet Salvo, Sarah, Ollie & Riccardo as well as partners, friends and owners and every member of the hostel becomes one large family. The fact that they take the effort to know everyone by name is a large part of this community feeling.
The hostel itself, it not so different from many others in Australia; dorm rooms, private rooms, Communal & private washing facilities, outdoor/smoking area, communal area and kitchen. What defines the OFS is the way these standards are maintained and managed.
Upon arrival you shell out 60 Dollaroonies as a deposit which is expensive for those who have travelled Asia but you’ll realise it becomes a standard across the country. For this you get two bags, one full of bedding stuff (fitted sheet, top sheet, pillow/case & comforter) and the other with your kitchen stuff (Plate, bowl, glass, knife, fork, tablespoon, tea spoon and mug) which is something no other hostel in my experience has offered before. All this is under your deposit as well as your key… you lose an item; you pay for it at the end. (Top tip…there’s sometimes a rogue mug/spoon/bowl in the free basket which someone has lost and this can be helpful to completing your set… I once had four forks)
The 4 Available cooking facilities (YES I SAID 4) are very well equipped and it feels as if you’re working in a professional kitchen with knives on magnets and steel surfaces and giant sinks and they are everywhere, you can cook:
- On the barbeque outside
- The communal downstairs kitchen
- The communal upstairs kitchen
- The secret ladies only kitchen (no dudes allowed)
I personally stayed in a dorm my entire time there, I like dorms, they’re social and offer you the opportunity to meet people as well as do the half social, half antisocial thing where you want to be left alone but you don’t physically shut a door so if someone says “do you wanna go for a beer?” you can jump on it. The rooms themselves aren’t all that special, I stayed in a 14 bed dorm which was the cheapest they had on offer but it was rarely full as it was often a transition room whilst people were waiting for a space in a smaller dorm or a private room to become available. There is a 14 bed, 12 bed, 8 bed and a 4 bed dorm which suits budgets and comfort. Beds are usually single single bunks, but a few have doubles on the bottom so if you’re lucky grab those ones. The décor is pretty cool, kind of hippy, bright and colourful and the windows are often blackened out for sleeping the day! Some have AC, some have fans… check it out on their website: http://oldfirestation.com.au/rooms
The shower facilities were adequate, there were 8 accessible showers for guys to use and I don’t know how many in the ladies’ room plus there might also have been ones in some private rooms – again refer to the site. They were hit and miss, worked most of the time, were a good temperature and power and were usually clean.
Actually I want to make a point about the cleanliness of this hostel, every morning without fail there was a cleaner up and about sweeping and mopping all the floors, cleaning the surfaces and putting away stuff that may have been left out (this is when people lose their mugs/plates) the night before. They were scrupulous about this regime of cleaning to the point where it became a bit annoying and at the time I didn’t realise it but boy is it worth it. Weekly dorm cleans, daily common area cleans & free clean sheet replacement all lead to a healthy and safe hostel to stay in long term, this means no fleas, no dirt, no bed bugs, no weird rashes and most of all there were very few flies (if any) indoors.
The common areas are pretty snazzy too, as a non-smoker I suppose I don’t understand the value of a good smoking zone but I spent a hell of a lot of time out there with friends playing ping pong/beer pong and they seem to enjoy it. Upstairs was an area for just relaxing and was next to the open plan kitchen, in here you had 2 vending machines (soda & snacks) a big screen TV with apple TV which included Netflix, a separate TV with a PS4 & XBOX and a free pool table add this to a few pc’s for internetting to your hearts content and a big ass comfy sofa you had yourself a cocktail for getting not a lot of work done!
Did I mention there’s also an outdoor cinema in the back with Foxtel(sky) and a Blu-ray player and another comfy sofa, all covered and dark with surround sound and weekly movie nights?
“These are all the positives Joe but where are the negatives you promised us!?” I hear you cry.
For me, a negative is that a lot of the social activity tends to float around the outdoors/smoking area which for me isn’t great because I end up smelling of smoke all the time and it sucks.
You can’t bring your own booze in to the hostel because it’s a licensed premise which means you have to buy from the hostel itself, which in itself isn’t too bad because they’re not over priced as a 6 pack (actually cheaper than Coles) but is more expensive than buying your own 24 pack crate which is more cost effective, they also don’t sell goon which is a poor backpackers social lubricant so you end up spending more money than you want. – a recent change to the rules is also that you can’t buy from reception after 9pm/10pm which Also sucks because it means if you run out, your night is over and you might have to go to Benny’s (local bar) and spend $10 for a pint.
Parking is limited but is available…. If the place is full you might struggle and free parking isn’t really close by (15 min walk)
They charge for laundry?! – I’m clutching at straws now… $4 a wash, $1 for 10min dry.
To summarise, this hostel is a great place to start your journey, spend most of your journey or end your journey. Ollie is a wiz at finding people jobs in the area through reception so if you need a job speak to him, there’s a weekly football match on a pitch nearby and if you play you can see how real Italians play football (This means you Salvo & Riccardo). I know people will build their own opinions of this hostel, some will have a positive and some may not but I hope that my experience has given you an insight of this hostel before you arrive.
Hit me up if you have any questions via Facebook on: BlondeBlokeAbroad