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Accommodation Budget Europe Iceland Reviews

Kex: A Funky, Affordable Hostel in Reykjavik, Iceland

March 19, 2017
Kex Hostel review Reykjavik Iceland

Iceland is has a well-deserved reputation for being drop-dead-gorgeous.  It is.

It also has a reputation for being fairly expensive.  For the most part, that’s true too.

Though we tend to stay in more private, comfortable accommodation options these days, our desired locations and activities always drive our decisions.  If there’s only basic accommodation in the area we’re headed, we go regardless.  If we want to travel long term, we tend to favour hostels and Airbnbs apartments to help cut down on our spending (with the added bonus of meeting other travellers and locals).  If we’re headed to an expensive area, you can be sure we’ll reduce the amount we spend on accommodation, putting our savings towards amazing activities, as opposed to missing out on those.

So when we found ourselves looking at accommodation in Iceland, we knew we’d have to look at alternatives.  We were there to see the country, not blow our budget on hotels – after all, nobody goes to Iceland just to sit inside their fancy room (though if you are looking for one, we know just the place where you can treat yourself!)

Recommended by a blogger friend (thanks Diana – check her out at MVMT!), we knew off the bat that Kex was anything but a fall-back option.

Located in an old biscuit factory and decorated with salvaged materials, this hostel has a distinctively eclectic, industrial feel – one that’s impossible to miss.  It’s also known locally for hosting the best musicians in town – one of our tour guides even recommended it as the place to be come evening.

Funky, quirky and certainly memorable, Kex provided us with everything we needed in a comfortable base.

What We Loved About Kex:

  • Kex is well located, a comfortable walk from the centre of the city.  As far as position goes, the hostel is spot on.
  • Breakfast is hearty, filling and plentiful.  It’s reasonably rustic – don’t come expecting pancakes and eggs cooked to order – but for a hostel, it’s easily the best we’ve ever seen.
  • Earplugs are on offer at the front desk free of charge – take some!  Though our roommates (we were in a four person co-ed room) were incredibly respectful, there was a fair bit of noise coming from outside on the first night of our stay.  I made the mistake of passing on the earplug and regretted my decision for a number of hours as I lay there, wishing the noise away.  Learn from my mistake a grab a few packets!  We used them the next few nights and slept really well – no complaints from us.
  • The quirky vibe of the place was awesome.  Kex has a unique feel to it – it makes you take yourself a little less seriously (which is never a bad thing).
  • There’s a room configuration (and quality) to suit a range of travellers.  Sure, it’s not a high-end, boutique offering, but with a range of rooms from industrial mixed dorms right through to private hotel-style rooms (which come with private bathrooms – yes!), there are plenty of options on offer.
  • If you’re travelling by yourself or would just like someone else to take care of your activities, they offer a selection of day trips from Reykjavik – too easy.
  • There’s free WiFi and a fully equipped kitchen (another great way to save money in Iceland – we found eating in to be significantly cheaper than eating out).

Things to Note:

  • In true European fashion, showering is a communal affair at Kex.  I remember the feeling that washed over me when I first walked into the woman’s bathroom to find all of the shower heads grouped in the one big cubical – I must admit, my first thought certainly wasn’t “oh yea!”.  With that said, there are a few unisex single showers so as long as you’ve got time on your side, you are able to have a private shower if you prefer.  One morning we had to race out the door and the single showers weren’t available so I braved the communal one – it turns out I shouldn’t have been worried at all – not a single soul walked in whilst I was in there (but I still get kudos for being brave so it’s win-win).
  • Being right by the city, Kex doesn’t have any private parking.  This means that, if you’re driving, you’ll either need to figure out the pay and display machines out front, use the carpark building a few hundred meters down the road or do as we did – check out the spots around town and then come back once the free parking begins (which, from memory was at 6pm – just don’t overstay your welcome the next morning as we did see a car get ticketed).

Though Kex houses 215 guests, we never once felt crowded or like we saw even a portion of those guests.  Granted it wasn’t absolute peak season whilst we were there but the private rooms were fully booked, leading us to believe they were running at a fairly high level of occupancy.

If you’re looking for a polished, luxury hotel, there’s no doubt this isn’t the place for you.  However, if you’re looking for a bit of fun and a hostel you won’t soon forget, Kex could be right on the money!


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Iceland's funkiest hostel! Accommodation in Reykjavik is expensive at the best of times but Kex Hostel is a great way to stay in the centre of the city without breaking the bank. It's quirky, comfortable and social - what more could you need? Iceland's funkiest hostel! Accommodation in Reykjavik is expensive at the best of times but Kex Hostel is a great way to stay in the centre of the city without breaking the bank. It's quirky, comfortable and social - what more could you need? Iceland's funkiest hostel! Accommodation in Reykjavik is expensive at the best of times but Kex Hostel is a great way to stay in the centre of the city without breaking the bank. It's quirky, comfortable and social - what more could you need?

Thank you to Kex Hostel for so kindly hosting us for the purpose of this review.  As always, all thoughts are our own.

Accommodation Budget Europe Iceland

Sleeping in a Pod in Iceland – Galaxy Pod Hostel

December 28, 2016
Galaxy Pod Hostel Reykjavik Iceland review

Iceland is known for many things, but a budget destination it is not. Being relatively isolated, the cost of living is fairly high and of course these prices are often reflected in the price of accommodation.  So, what is one to do if travelling to Iceland without an endless budget?  There are a number of ways to help save money whilst travelling – one of which is to stay in a hostel.

We found the Galaxy Pod Hostel to be a quiet haven after a day of travel in Iceland and with a range of options available, it will suit most travellers in Reykjavík.

We spotted their ‘pods’ online and knew instantly it was a place we wanted to check out.  Long story short, they’re awesome!

Each pod is equipped with a little air-conditioning unit, a range of power points and USB chargers, a mirror, independent lighting options and many of them had their own little TVs.  When you’re ready to escape the rest of the world, you just pull down on the screen to create your own private sanctuary.

What are the Shared Spaces Like at the Galaxy Pod Hostel?

The communal spaces at Galaxy are well-maintained and tidy with plenty of room for everyone.

The uni-sex bathrooms were clean and there were plenty of showers for the number of people staying.  The water smelt a little of sulphur but that’s to be expected when it’s sourced from the naturally heated wells in the ground.

Though we didn’t cook, there were basic facilities for preparing meals and a supermarket across the road which was particularly useful!  The area doesn’t have a great deal of restaurants but with the town an easy walk down the road, there are plenty of options within reach if you would like a meal out.

We relaxed in the lounge for a while after check-out, watching the first real snow of the winter season fall over Reykjavík – the sofas were comfy, the view was pretty and the wifi strong – everything we look for really!

How Staying in a Hostel in Iceland Can Help You Save Money

  • By sharing a room and bathroom facilities with others you’ll instantly save some hard-earned dosh over the price of a hotel.  Also, if you’re travelling as a single traveller, you’ll avoid having to pay for a room by yourself.
  • Having a kitchen onsite allows you to shop locally (or bring some basics from home, should you have room in your bags) and prepare your own meals and snacks.  Though we didn’t find Iceland to be as expensive as we expected, meals out were a significant jump up in price from supermarket prices (which were surprisingly affordable all things considered).
  • Further money is saved by having you bring your own toiletries and sometimes your own towel (check with where you’re staying to see if they supply them – if you do need your own, we recommend a Turkish towel.  They’re so much more absorbent than the ‘quick-dry’ travel towels, lovely and soft and don’t take up much space).  It’s worth noting that most hostels won’t let you use your own sleeping bag anymore, so there’s no need to carry about your own bedding.

Is it worth shelling out the extra money for a pod over a normal dorm bed?  

The answer to that question largely depends on your budget but if you’ve got access to the spare money, absolutely.  It normally takes me a night or so to re-adjust to having other people sleeping in a room with me, but with my own pod, I fell asleep right away and stayed snoozing all night – that’s never happened for me in the past!

The pods themselves are reasonably well-sized.  They’re not huge but give you enough room to move about in bed without feeling confined and would be suitable for the majority of people.  If you suffer from claustrophobia then you may find the space to be a little enclosed for your liking but we were both more than happy in our little homes for the night.

If you’d prefer, they do have more traditional bunk beds available too at a lower price point and all rooms come with the use of digitally secured lockers.

When you’re in Reykjavík and are looking for a relaxed and comfortable place to stay that provides a good level of privacy without breaking the bank then Galaxy Hostel may be the perfect option for your visit to Iceland!


Headed to Iceland? Pin this post for future reference!

An affordable accommodation option in Reykjavik, Iceland.  Our favourite hostel in the city, offering privacy, comfort and a way to meet others whilst keeping to your budget. An affordable accommodation option in Reykjavik, Iceland.  Our favourite hostel in the city, offering privacy, comfort and a way to meet others whilst keeping to your budget. An affordable accommodation option in Reykjavik, Iceland.  Our favourite hostel in the city, offering privacy, comfort and a way to meet others whilst keeping to your budget.

Thank you to Galaxy Pod Hostel for hosting us for the evening to review their pods.  All thoughts, as always, are our own.

Asia Budget India New Delhi Reviews Tours

A Life-Changing Visit to the Slums of Delhi

November 9, 2016
Delhi Slum Tour PETE review

It’s funny how something as simple as walking through a city can change your perspective so significantly.  India was amazing, eye-opening and at times confronting, but I’ve never experienced anything quite like our visit to the Slums of Delhi.

Initially we were hesitant to visit the slums – the idea of walking though peoples homes felt very intrusive, especially when we considered the level of poverty that so many of these people experience.  The last thing we wanted to do was to take advantage of them or to seek entertainment by sitting in on their daily lives.

One blog turned everything around for us though – if you’ve not read it, I highly recommend you have a nosey at Andrew Roams.  The decision was made and we booked ourselves in, still a little unsure of what to expect but hopeful.

Organised by PETE (Providing Education To Everyone), local guides escort small groups through the slums of Delhi – in particular the Kathputli Colony of street performers in one of the poorest parts of Delhi, near the Shadipur Depot.  To be shown around by someone who lives in this remarkable community was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and one that we won’t easily forget.

For the past 60 years, this colony has been home to families of magicians, singers, painters, puppeteers, dancers, acrobats and storytellers and it is now estimated to house over 20,000 people in close quarters.

My initial trepidation quickly melted away as I found myself incredibly surprised by the slums in the very best of ways.  We were amazed by the positive outlook that each and every person we encountered shared with us – how is it possible that people with so little can appreciate life so much?

With that said, I am mindful of over-romanticising the slums.  Cramped alley ways weave their way in between the small shacks that house entire families.  The buzzing televisions and charging cellphones sit in stark contrast to the rest of the environment.  Women sit outside washing clothes and cooking meals whilst children bathe in buckets.  Goats are scattered throughout the colony and cats stalk rooftops.  Water gushes in between shacks and all manner of smells drift up and over the community.

I do not doubt that life in the slums is challenging…

But it is also clearly rewarding for its many citizens.  I’ve never met a group of people as warm and welcoming as I did that day and all for no reason other than to welcome us into their lives for a brief point in time.  Colours, beauty and kindness abound, turning any doubt I had into a distant memory.

Mothers greeted us with warm smiles, men treated us with the upmost of respect but, what will stick with me forever, were the beautiful Indian children.

Racing around, following us through the maze of alleyways, these gorgeous kids wanted nothing more than to shake our hands, high five us and, to their great delight, have their photos taken.  We took with us some snacks to hand out and though they were graciously accepted, the kids really did just seem excited to see us – even now, a month on our trip, thinking about my morning with them brings a massive smile to my face.

Some experiences affect you at your very core and our visit to the slums of Delhi did exactly that.  Humbling, eye opening and enlightening, I can’t imagine anyone walking away unchanged.

The biggest question for me is how those of us fortunate enough to have everything we need in life and more can hang onto lessons like the one I learnt that day.  It’s all too easy to slip back into old ways of thinking… to forget how fortunate we are.

I don’t have any answers but I do know that the more I travel the more I feel fortunate for what I have in every sense.  I have shelter over my head, food in my belly, all the personal possessions I could ever need, my personal safety and the ability to explore other parts of the world.

Without doubt, I am lucky, but my visit to the slums reminded me that although I’m fortunate, there’s plenty I can learn from others… there is so much more to life than what we all-too-often place importance on.


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Delhi Slum Tour PETE

A visit to the Slums of Delhi (the Kathputli Colony specifically) can be organised through PETE for a minimum donation of 750 rupees each.  The funds raised from these ‘slum walks’ gets put directly back into the community through the schools and programmes that they run – money well spent in my books.   Throughout the ‘tour’ you’ll have the opportunity to visit different artists in the community but the decision is entirely yours.  Our group of five elected to enjoy a traditional puppet show (for a small additional fee) but to be honest, the highlight of the day for all of us was simply walking through the community, interacting with the locals and gaining a small insight into their lives.  There’s no right or wrong way to go about your visit, as long as you do so in a respectful way.

For more information or to secure your spot on a tour in Delhi, get in touch with PETE.  We cannot recommend it enough – don’t leave India without connecting with its amazing people.

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