When my friend Steffie and I were plotting our travels to Ireland last year, I knew that I wanted our home base to be in Cork, even though we would be leaving for the east and a bit north the day after our arrival. For that first night in Cork we stayed at the Bru Bar Hostel.
Ironically, my boyfriend had stayed there years ago, and just happened to walk in on their first anniversary party (Pimps and Hos theme, apparently). He said it was a nice place, and my handy dandy Cork guide book by Linda Fallon also mentioned it, too.
Bru won out over the other well-known Cork hostel, Sheila’s, for two reasons:
1) Unlike Sheila’s, Bru Bar is not situated on a steep hill
2) Sky Link airport shuttle dropped us off about fifty feet away from the Bru Bar door.
With my heart condition and how tired we were going to be after all of that traveling there was no way in hell I’m going to be lugging my crap up some steep ass hill.
There are two ground floor entrances – one for checked-in guests with a pass card and the door leading through the bar that Bru Bar runs. A nice woman was waiting behind a Dutch door and checked us in right away. She gave us a voucher for a free Bud Lite at the bar. Neither of us drink Bud, but it was a nice gesture. Make it a Bulmer’s or Heineken and then we’ll talk.
There is no lift/elevator at Bru Bar. I repeat: there is no lift/elevator. So, if you’ve booked one of the smaller, all-female private dorms, prepare to hike your ass up about five flights of stairs.
JEEBUS IT HURT.
I would have been OK if I had not been carrying about 40lbs of extra weight, but I was, so it did. Hurt, I mean. I’m not blaming this on Bru Bar, by the way. The building itself is just darling and I admire anyone who keeps structural integrity. However, I reserve my right to bitch and moan.
So we get up to our floor and there are only two rooms – with two bathrooms directly across from each room, divided by a narrow hardwood floor hall. I’ll address my one of few complaints regarding the bathroom in a minute, but first, the dorm. It’s a narrow room, unsurprising given we were up in the topmost floor. Two bunk beds with rolling storage cages underneath were pressed up against one wall and that was about all that could fit. Two people definitely cannot walk around that room at the same time. My bed linen wasn’t the most spotless, but it was clean as the smell of fabric softener still lingered and the hardwood floor had little to no trace of dust bunnies.
Now, when I booked the 4 person all-female dorm room, I knew it was supposed to be en suite. All rooms are described having “private bathrooms, most en suite”. I assumed that the bathroom would be accessible via the dorm itself and we wouldn’t have to bother with a hall. It wasn’t much of a bother until we used our bathroom and realized the people in our neighboring dorm were already in full use of both theirs and our bathroom. Their towels, soaps and hair care products were in both. Uh, OK? I don’t think we would have minded too much except that we quickly realized (as we were trying to nap) that our neighbors were mostly boys.
Well, we just shrugged – telling ourselves again this place was just for one night. We’ll play along, too, and use their bathroom if need be.
After our nap, we went downstairs to explore and use the advertised free “high-speed” internet. We found the common room, a cozy room with a bar ledge seating and in-lay conjoined couch, coffee tables, a TV in the ceiling corner (like a hospital TV) and two computers on the bar ledge. A young girl was situated at one computer, the other free. I went to fiddle at the free computer but was informed by the young girl next to it that it was down and had been so for a couple days. After a few more exchanges with her a couple of facts came to light:
1) The girl was from Canada (awesome; I love me some Canadians)
2) She was a FANGIRL! (hmm...okay, she has interests, it's good to like things...)
3) She had just flown halfway around the world to park her butt in front of a dial-up connection to indulge in her fangirldom. (noooooooooooooooo)
The Canadian FANGIRL! had been on the computer for quite some time reading scantalations – manga (Japanese comics) scanned in, their Kanji digitally erased and replaced with translated English text. Between that and some piece of fanfiction on Livejournal, (“Just let me finish up this chapter! I have to finish it!”) this chick had been hogging the computer for hours. Unfathomable; why travel half way around the world to glue yourself in front of a computer screen?
I was having none of it as the computer was shut off at midnight and it was already 10:30-11:00pm by the time we came downstairs.
I decided to speak her language and talk to her about anime conventions, cosplay and other anime nerd topics. She was very happy that I spoke Otaku and after five minutes of fangirl talk, she scampered off the computer to find her travel buddies - like an unidentifiable anime critter to find mischief and food. I was able to email my mother and let her know I was alive and safely arrived at my hostel.
The kitchen is adjacent to the common room; it’s large with nice facilities. Cooker, fridge, cupboards, large sink, shelves, drying rack, cutlery and cookware all there. Even a kitchen radio to keep your feet moving.
The beds are comfortable and for the five hours I did sleep, I slept soundly. It was neither too warm nor too cold, and the blankets just right.
The staff was kind enough to put out all of the breakfast goodies in the kitchen a wee bit early and after a hearty breakfast of toast, tea, cereal & porridge we checked out and headed off to Kent station to go to Dublin.
Bru Bar Hostel Pros:
Secure – having your card key on you at all times is a must! Even from the bathroom to your bedroom.
Well-equipped Kitchen – perfect for saving a buck and fixing your own meal with groceries.
Decently clean – Not as clean as they profess on the website, but you’re not about to step or sleep on anything squishy and questionable.
Location – MacCurtain Street is insanely central; it was only an eight minute walk (with our luggage, so 5 minutes regular) to Kent train station and five-seven to the bus terminal.
Friendly staff – Happy to help you out, from food recommendations to directions.
Bru Bar Hostel Cons:
Noise – The bedroom and hallway doors are heavy and LOUD. Just be courteous to your neighbors and hold onto the door handles to gently close the doors.
Wonky Computers – Seriously, there is nothing “high-speed” about their internet. They need to get rid of all of the crap other people have stuck on there, clean the hard drive and upgrade.
Bathrooms – This is my one serious complaint. Firstly, for an all-female dorm to be placed next to a dorm with males is kind of counter-intuitive, especially when bathrooms are not pass key locked. I think the top floor at least needs to be re-worked, because the reason why I booked an all-female dorm en suite with “private bathroom” was to avoid bumping into some dude in his boxers at 5:30am, praying to the high heavens he didn’t miss the bowl of our alleged private bathroom.
Would I stay at Bru Bar Hostel again? For one or two nights maximum.
Would I recommend Bru Bar Hostel? Yes, but I’d give a heads up about the bathrooms.
Bru Bar Hostel
57 MacCurtain Street
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