Hey peeps! So I haven’t mentioned it yet on here, but if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you may have noticed that I was posting the odd secret treat here and there from…Athens!! Yes, thanks to the awesome location of this year’s TBEX conference I got to finally spend eight days in a city I’ve dreamed of ever since we studied the Ancient Greek Myths in school.
Of course that meant an opportunity to find an awesome new hostel to tell you all about. So after a bit of research here and there (click here to see how I find hostels!) I sent out a tweet and an awesome follower suggested City Circus Athens. It had already been on my shortlist so I figured hey, why not? A week or so later a friend of mine sent me a link to a feature on City Circus in Condé Naste so before I’ve even turned up, I’m thinking I’ve found a winner.
City Circus Hostel Athens: First Impressions
Turning left at the end of Ag Anargiron onto Sarri Street, City Circus is almost directly ahead on the left hand side. After an easy walk from Monastiraki metro station the tall strong doors of the hostel opened up to a bright hallway decorated with some incredible local art. It was already dark outside, and the light warm interior had a welcoming cheerful glow. Even more welcoming was the receptionist, Yota, who began to chat away with me about my reservation and all the information I needed to know regarding my room number, check out time, breakfast times, and services such as laundry and baggage storage prices, and the use of a free laptop in the common area. I was already grinning away by the end of this chat (her welcomeness was infectious!) that I knew I wouldn’t be going straight to sleep, so I hopped in to the lift to drop off my bags and then head back down for a beer.
And yes… I said lift! I’ll be honest, I had decided to go for a bit of a more boutique hostel experience this week, as I assumed I’d need to be well-refreshed for the conference…but this was my first hostel lift experience and it was a bit of a shock! A great one – the stairs would have been a killer with my bag!
Dropping off my bag as silently as possible so as not to disturb my sleeping roommates I popped back downstairs to grab a beer from Yota. Back downstairs I also met Dimos, one of the owners (along with Nondas – both very welcoming!), before I jumped back in to the lift to receive a huge shock from the top floor roof terrace!
City Circus’ rooftop gives the most incredible view of Athens, and is directly in line with the top of Acropolis Hill! I am so glad my first view was at night as the Parthenon was lit up beneath the cloudless sky, and the rooftop itself was lit with tiny twinkling fairy lights. The atmosphere was beautiful and, whilst a little chilly this time of year, I had a beer and read until it closed up at 11.30pm.
Returning to my 4-bed dorm, I tried to sneak up to my top-bunk with a small bottle of water as I get super thirsty in the night. There are however gaps between the wall and the bed, and my poor bunkmate ended up sleeping with the bottle instead – luckily however it didn’t wake her and she turned out to be a super cool traveller who I spent most the next day with! Debra…you were awesome!
Comfort wise, I slept like a baby every night, sometimes a little too much! All the thick wooden beds had mattress covers, as well as sheets that got changed every two days… so if you’re a clean freak this is the hostel for you! A lot of hostels I’ve stayed in have you keep your sheets for the duration of your stay up to a week, so I was super impressed when they kept changing mine!
One of the smartest things I saw was a locker allocated for each bed. Time and time again hostels forget to provide lockers which is just stupid! At City Circus the lockers were size enough for a suitcase, as well as offering a hanging rail with a hanger or two for your jackets or shirts!
Each room also requires a key-card specific to that room so each room is individually secure also.
The first morning I was up super early and left to explore, so whilst I missed breakfast the friendly Klara at reception thankfully pointed me in the way of coffee! The second morning however I experienced their free breakfast! It was being served by Tiziana, another fabulous member of staff, with a huge smile and great skill at making fresh orange juice!
On the bar you could help yourself to yoghurt (the thick Greek stuff), a selection of jams, muesli, toast, cheese, butter, different flavours of squash, and even hard-boiled eggs! Basically, it was far more than I’d ever expect from a hostel, let alone receive!
During the day you can also help yourself to coffee and water, which is a lifesaver…
I really, really loved the location of City Circus! It’s a 5-minute walk from Monastiraki, which I soon discovered was my favourite part of town due to all the street performers dancing and playing music throughout the day & night! From there it’s also pretty easy to walk or get a metro to anywhere. Plus, the nightlife around Ag Anargiron & Miaouli Street is really cool. There are hookah bars, or an awesome dance club called 7 Times in which I actually got dragged around the dance floor by some great leads after a little too much Ouzo! If you don’t dance, they also have a pool table and very laid back staff, or you could take a few steps North up Miaouli and sit outside a very chilled looking ‘beach bar’ and watch the world go by…
The Common Area
The conference kept me out of the hostel a lot at the start of my stay, but I finally got the chance to socialise later on in the week and the large open common area space was great for meeting other guests! One evening, with only an hour to spare before evening plans, I propped my laptop up and managed to send out two emails before I got chatting to another guest for the better part of the evening. The same thing happened the next day and hey presto as happens in hostel I found an awesome little group to hang out with for the next couple of days.
One evening, the hostel hosted Greek cooking class which I couldn’t get back in time for. My point is that even with the table full of guests easting their delicious home-cooked Greek meal, there was still plenty of space for the rest of us to hang out on the couches and play Uno. Oh yeah…they have Uno…win win.
The Greek cooking class wasn’t the only activity the hostel ran! Other weekly events include: Happy Hour, a Three-Island Tour, Tsipouro Tasting, Bar Crawls, a Delphi Day Trip, Bike Hire, and Walking Tours!
City Circus Athens: Last Impressions
I’ve asked the question before, should hostels be laid back or professional? It definitely felt as if City Circus tried to combine the two, and overall they do so very successfully. The strict cleaning regime and even the number of staff on at any time hinted towards a more professional and boutique vibe than your average budget hostel. And whilst they’re definitely not a party hostel with crazy drinking games every night (for the better – I think I’m getting too old for these!) their activities and common areas, including the rooftop, encourage guests to come together and get to know each other over a Fix beer that you can grab from reception. Or even over a game of chess!
The staff are also a credit to the hostel and it’s management. Whilst I managed to get a few names which I’ve mentioned already, there were at least two more girls who checked me out on the last day who wore huge smiles and were happy to chat away without the feeling of forced customer service you get in plenty of hotels.
I would recommend City Circus if you’re looking for a more mature environment than the party hostels of Europe, but are still looking to meet other travellers and learn about the modern Greek culture that seems to envelope Sarri street. You’re also definitely going to get a good night’s sleep in fresh linen, which is always a bonus.
A few more pictures…
If you’ve stayed here, let me know what you thought! And as always if you have a favourite hostel in Europe you think I should check out let me know in the comments!
Lots of love,