Antwerp City Hostel was the place that I called home for a few days during my time in Antwerp. Having never been to Antwerp before I was not sure what to expect. So I did a little research and decided to go with a hostel that was close to a lot of tourist attractions and one that was also as accessible as possible within my budget. Here are my thoughts on my stay at the Antwerp City Hostel and how accessible I found it.
Antwerp City Hostel was ideally located in the Grote Markt neighbourhood of the city. This gave me an excellent opportunity to be based so close to a lot of the places that I wanted to visit during my short time in the city. Every day when I left the hostel, it always took my breath away to have the gorgeous City Hall and impressive Cathedral of Our Lady right at my doorstep. It is situated just a 20 minute walk (or 35 – 40 minute walk, if you add crutches and a suitcase!) from the Antwerp Centraal Station. So even if you do need to take a taxi, it won’t be an eye watering amount. The closest station is Groenplaats, and is just a short walk away from the hostel, so you don’t need to worry about getting incredibly lost, as I have been known to, once or twice! As with many parts of Antwerp, you are never in a shortage of cute little cafés, or restaurants to tempt you. From the expected fare of waffles, chocolates and fries (yes, they really should change it to chips), to cuisine from further afield, like the Middle East and South East Asia. You’ll be spoilt for choice, but do make sure to actually see the city!
The great thing about Antwerp as a whole is that the city is mostly flat. Even areas with cobblestones, that can prove tricky with those on crutches and in wheelchairs, I found to be quite manageable. This was seriously aided by the fact that it did not rain in the city until I was about to leave.
The stations were a dream, clean and flat, just the way I like them. At all the stations I entered/exited, there were escalators and lifts available from street level to the train. And what is even better is that the Groenplaats stop has access to many tram lines taking you around the city. But an issue with this is that it can get a little bumpy getting around the square, but you can avoid that by sticking to the pavement. Plus, you’ll be treated to a large statue of Rubens from any angle.
The hostel itself has a ramp leading you towards the door where you use your keycard to gain entrance. It was not looking its prettiest at the time, as there seemed to be some building works happening. The first door opens inwards, so it should be easy enough to push through and get inside. However, the second door opens outwards and you’ll need to give it a bit of a pull once you have heard the buzzer.
One of the most annoying parts of having to use lifts is that so many of them are really quite slow! Not with the lift in this hostel, though! It goes fast. The lift actually jumps a little once it gets to your floor, so be prepared for that, haha!
The beds are regulation standard, so it maybe wise to call ahead to reserve a bottom bunk that is close to the exit. I found this to be the best option for me. As in my dorm, the space became narrow until it opened up again towards the last beds. And I did not want to struggle with me, my calliper and my suitcase in the dark.
While not advertised as well as it should be, there is an accessible bathroom at the hostel on the 4th floor. It used to be kept open, but as with things that are meant for those with disabilities, it was abused by random people. Upon booking, let the staff know that you will require access and they will have a key ready for you. It is very spacious and there is a handle and seat available so you’re not stuck on your feet. An added bonus is that you get a great view of the cathedral. In less fantastic news, the cathedral gets a great view of you!
I was glad to find out they had an accessible bathroom! On my floor, there was also an accessible toilet that was very wide. Perfect those in wheelchairs, as there is plenty of space to manoeuvre. Or it can also fit two people, if need be. The luggage room, on the 1st floor where the reception area is, opens outwards. But if you can ask a staff member for assistance. They will help you stow your bag away. They also have a few computers available, in case you need to print out your itinerary.
For my stay in the dorm room, I paid 20€ per night. This is more than I am used to paying, as I have been spoilt by exchange rates elsewhere. The hostel is located right by many must see spots, makes it worth every Euro! The money that I might save staying somewhere cheaper, would just add up elsewhere. Especially when you factor in travel costs, as well as the time it takes to get around.
If possible, try to wake up early in the morning to have the square all to yourself. It’s magical seeing gorgeous old buildings lit up by the morning sun. There’s a bench you can sit on in front of the City Hall. And there are a few squares that you can sit on in front of the Cathedral before the people start rushing by.
They also have the Dutch supermarket “Albert Heijns”, so you can food shop to your hearts content. There is one 5 minutes away from the Groenplaats station and is accessible.
I had a good stay at the hostel, and the staff were accommodating. An issue I did have is that the reception at the hostel is not always open, as the owners also run the Hotel Postiljon which is right next to the Cathedral. I had to walk from the hostel with my luggage, check in at the hotel and make my way back. While this was a little annoying, the hotel has a large step before you can actually enter the premises. Which makes it a nightmare for those who are unable to do steps and may be travelling by themselves. At the time I was staying, the hostel was open from 8am – 12pm and then from 4pm – 8pm. It would have been good for it to be open for a solid chunk of time.
I had a great time staying at the Antwerp City Hostel, and would definitely go back. The staff were really nice, and the location is just unbeatable!
Have any of you been? What did you think of the hostel? If you have yet to go, you can check out other reviews of the Antwerp City Hostel