Affittacamere Good Night - Fine for No Frills Travellers
Oct 19, 2010
Finding budget accommodation in the Italian city of Udine proved to be a long drawn out struggle. The tourism pages of the municipal website list the larger hotels but not cheaper accommodation like hostels, pensions and private rooms. They did, however, provide a pdf document which listed contact details for a handful of cheaper rooms. This wasn't very detailed and only a few of the ones listed had websites. I sent off an email to those that had email addresses and weren't too far from the centre and waited. Half of them bounced back, another was too expensive and another was full.
Affittacamere Good Night responded, had availability and seemed to be a reasonable price. What's more, they had a website so we were able to have a look at what we might expect before we made a decision. We didn't need to pay anything in advance and Matteo, the owner's son gave us a phone number to ring about twenty minutes before we would arrive.
I don't know the exact translation of "affittacamere" but my understanding is that it refers to "rooms to rent"; this is usually in a house or apartment but the owner does not live in the building, nor is it staffed. They are usually quite basic and are the equivalent of hostels but without all the facilities and the structure that usually accompanies that type of establishment.
Affittacamere Good Night is situated in the new part of Udine, just behind the train station. In some cities this might be considered a part of town to avoid but in Udine this area was a quiet and leafy residential zone. We didn't experience any disturbance with noise from the station. Although there were quite a few cars parked in the street, there were still some free spots so parking would not be an issue. The quickest way to get to the hostel from the centre of town is to use the foot tunnel under the train line which is accessed on the city side just beside an Udine bike rental stand to the right of the station as you face it. Again, while you might avoid such a route in some cities, we didn't feel unsafe at all. Only a large dog whimpering as he refused to be coaxed into the underpass by his mistress seemed to be at all concerned by the footway.
Although we had taken Matteo's number with us we were calling from a mobile with a Slovenian SIM and needed the country code to make the call even though we were in Italy. We asked in the information desk at the train station and a very dapper gentleman tried to help us but it transpired he had given us dud information. We decided to make our way to the place and hope someone was there. From the outside the building is rather non-descript and characterless but it certainly didn't scream "Bates Motel" for which blessing we were thankful. I rang the bell and after a moment an elderly man appeared at an upstairs window. I speak only limited Italian so when the man discovered that we were English he did what many people his age do and addressed us in (very bad – really, it made mine sound almost native) German. He instructed us to phone Matteo and when I explained that we needed to know the full telephone number, he came downstairs, let us in and phoned Matteo on our behalf. He then asked us to wait ten minutes, offered us some mineral water ("San Benedetto – sehr gut") and switched on the television, thrusting two remote controls at us, before going back upstairs. We were left alone in the large kitchen diner to wait. After a minute we had to turn off the television set as we were unable to use the controls either individually or in combination to get a decent interference free picture.
The kitchen was reasonably well equipped and although it was a little shabby, it was very clean. We didn't cook at all while we were staying there but had we wanted to, I wouldn't have had any doubts about its cleanliness. We did store water in the fridge which we suspect wasn't working properly as it never seemed to get particularly chilled. At the rear of the house was a small patio a couple of chairs and a place to dry laundry. There were two bedrooms off the kitchen, neither of which (fortunately) turned out to be ours). Also on the ground floor was a shower.
When Matteo and his father arrived we were straight to business. Our room was on the first floor and it was quite large: it contained two single beds (so far away from each other we almost had to communicate by semaphore), a desk, two chairs and a small wardrobe. There were no pictures and nothing in the way of decoration but there were three framed notices giving strict instructions about the various rules of the house. On the desk there was a television and a DVD player (I guess, I don't know because I don't possess one). There were three remote controls – it took us about thirty minutes to divine how to use these to get a picture. There was a desk lamp which I am sure is useful if you want to sit at the desk, but reading lamps by each bed would have been more welcome. Again the room was very clean and in good repair. There was one tiny towel each and – en route to our own house – we hadn't bothered to bring any of our own.
Before he left, Matteo gave us some local information and helped us locate a restaurant that was located on a street not marked on our map. He also wrote his full phone number in case we needed to contact him.
The shared bathroom was next to our room and was quite modern and in good condition. It was also very clean but I did feel a bit uncomfortable using it as someone – presumably the man who had let us in who I suspect is a long term tenant – had lots of personal items in there that you wouldn't leave if you were only staying a short time. There was a bath but we just used the shower over it. There was plenty of hot water and the shower was easy to control.
We didn't see any other guests but we did, unfortunately, hear them; this is not to say that this is a noisy place to stay, however. There must have been people staying in the ground floor rooms as we heard people come into the house in the early hours but did not hear them coming upstairs. The following afternoon we had gone back for a siesta when we were woken by a mobile phone that had been left in a handbag on the flight of stairs next to our room. The phone rang out on three occasions before Himself took the handbag downstairs to find the owner – who could not understand why it was such an annoyance.
Affittacamere Good Night is perfectly adequate accommodation for people who don't need the frills. We hardly spent any time in the room and had no need for any particular services or facilities. My only reservation is that at €40 a night for two people it seems quite expensive but compared to other accommodation in Udine it's pretty cheap. I do think that €35 would be more reasonable for what you get but, then again, I'm quite mean. This is accommodation for self-reliant travellers who are going to be spending all day out and about; it more or less met our requirements but I did feel like there were one or two minus points (the lack of bedside lamps for example).
Recommended for travellers seeking somewhere clean, comfortable and secure to spend the night but not for those needing something more than basic