YHA Railway Square

YHA Railway Square – 9/10
8-10 Lee Street, Sydney, NSW, 2000

Date December 2017
Length of Stay 19 nights
Room Type 4 Bed Dorm (7 nights)
6 Bed Dorm (12 nights)
Cost 4 Bed Dorm – $252 each (weekly rate, including breakfast)
6 Bed Dorm – $322 (Christmas promotion, 30% off regular rate)

Atmosphere: 8/10
Railway Square is a unique hostel experience in the heart of Sydney. It’s a conversion of platform zero within the Central Railway Station, and has managed to maintain the authentic railway look and feel. The ceilings are high, displaying flags from countries around the world, and the walls are plastered with posters/offers for trips, job opportunities and items for sale. The communal area is large, open plan design, with a self-catering kitchen and dining area. From here, you can enter the garden terrace, or sit and watch a film in the movie room, both of which are always full of people. Music plays from reception, which can be heard all over the hostel – but it differs, depending on who is working that day! Good vibes all round.

I think it was due to the time of year, but there weren’t many guests in the hostel leading up to Christmas. Of the people staying at Railway Square over the holidays, many were travelling together, subsequently forming cliques based on nationality, while a few others were living in the hostel for long periods of time. Fortunately, the hostel offered lots of group activities, such as the organised paddle boarding and a special Christmas dinner.

The Christmas dinner really helped to liven the atmosphere. The room was decorated and everyone dressed up! After the meal, we all went to Bondi Beach at midnight – it was a great moment and full of laughs.

Cleanliness: 8/10
img_7081The staff work really hard to keep Railway Square clean, and the hostel is very well looked after by gardeners/repairmen too. On several occasions, and even throughout the night, staff are seen wiping down tables, sweeping the floors and scrubbing sinks. Housekeeping worked hard every morning to turn down the beds, vacuum the floors and remove any rubbish. We even had someone come through our room to dust one afternoon!

On a few occasions, we found empty bottles and dirty plates left around. It made the hostel look dirty, even though we know it was well looked after. Staff were always very quick to help tidy these bits up.

Facilities: 8/10
Railway Square is air conditioned (which you don’t find in all Australian hostels)! All of the communal areas were nice and cool which was a much needed with the 40 degree heat outside. The air-con in the rooms seemed to be intermittent. We weren’t sure if it was on a timer or tied in with the light switch, but as long as the windows were shut it was a comfortable temperature.

WiFi was below par. It was slow and cut out before rooms, where you would be given the option for ‘Premium WiFi’ at a cost of $5 a day, which would then reach your room. With WiFi being such a low cost for businesses nowadays, I was hoping it would be faster, and not an additional extra cost considering the hostel is already one of the more expensive hostels in Sydney.

There was a free-to-use pool table and Foosball which thankfully were not always busy, and were able to be used 8am-10pm.

Next to reception there was an activities board, with a different meal and activity for each day of the week. There were 2 or 3 free entry/free drink deals with bars/clubs for those who wanted to get drunk, and daytime paddle boarding and walking tours for those that were up early enough.

Apparently there used to be a pool, and they are currently in the process of renovating it, but during our stay it was still just the outside terrace area which was decorated nicely with plants and fake grass, and got sunlight from sunrise to sunset.

The Laundry room had roughly 6 washers and dryers, and two irons that were free to use. The cost of a wash was $4, with washing products all available to purchase.

Breakfast was free for anyone that booked in the weekly rate in a 4-bed dorm, but was $7 to anyone not on this deal. It included cereal, toast, and a hot drink as well as juice and milk. We weren’t made aware that this free breakfast did not apply to our second room booking in the 6 bed dorm, so were slightly disappointed at that.

Location: 10/10
Situated next to Central Station, and in the Haymarket area, this hostel has an ideal location for your stay in Sydney. Everything is within walking distance, including bars, restaurants, banks, the famous “Paddy’s Market”, grocery stores/supermarkets and shopping centres. If you don’t fancy walking all the time, access to public transit is right at the hostel doorstep. Circular Quay and Darling Harbour are only 4 stops on the subway, or roughly a 30 minute walk. The only slight downside is that the hostel isn’t very close to any beaches, so you’re looking at at least 30 mins on public transport to the nearest beach.

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Room: 9/10
img_51654 Bed Dorm: These rooms are located on the second floor of the building. Our room had a/c (not adjustable), offered 4 large lockers and a small window facing out to the carriages. It had a corrugated sheet ceiling and wooden/steel beam structure, giving an authentic train station feel. Room also had a stool, long mirror, communal hooks and a rail for hanging towels. Short walk to communal bathrooms.

6 Bed Dorm – These rooms were located on the main floor, opposite reception and the front entrance. The floor to ceiling window faced out to carriages, but the bottom half was misted for privacy. A/C wasn’t as strong in this room, but we kept the windows shut to avoid mosquitoes and the noise from the station behind the hostel. There were 6 lockers, a stool, shelf, long mirror and communal hooks. Short walk to communal bathrooms.

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In both rooms, the doors blocked out almost all sound from communal areas. However, the doors themselves were pretty heavy duty and made a loud bang when they closed. Earplugs recommended for the shared rooms. Each bed offered a light, which also doubled as a shelf, and 2 USB sockets.

In addition, YHA Railway Square offers private double rooms, or 8 bed shared accommodation in an old railway car!

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Security: 10/10
Security around here is pretty tight. The front door is situated opposite reception, and there is a window into the common area so the staff could keep an eye on everyone.

Each guest had their own coded keycard. Keycard access was required into main building after 10pm, but were used at all times to gain access through a second set of doors to the dorm corridors, and were further coded to each room. Keycards also required for bathroom access… apparently they were gender assigned, but our cards worked for both bathrooms. The rooms had large lockers that were big enough to fit our backpacks! There was 1 per person, but you have to supply your own lock. Furthermore, you could rent a locker by the railway carriages, which charged per hour or by the day. The staff also had access to a baggage room, for anyone who wanted to leave their bag at the hostel during the day.

Staff: 10/10
The staff at YHA Railway Square were simply awesome. Sam always made sure to greet us when we walked past, or asked what we’re up to. He gave great recommendations for things to do in the area, and was always up for a chat! Bonus points to go Kelly, who saved the day when I managed to spill red sangria alllll over my beautiful white jumper. While I was panicking, she came over and suggested soaking it in cold water overnight – and it totally worked. Kelly even gave me a bowl to use in my room, so I didn’t have to leave it unattended in the laundry room. Those two went above and beyond!

Overall: If you’re looking for a hostel in Central Sydney, look no further than YHA Railway Square. One of the most chilled hostels we’ve stayed in, perfect location, good price and great staff. We will definitely return!

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