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Mainistir House Hostel

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Description & Photos
Hostelz.com's Review
Mainistir Hostel is one of the few hostels available in the Aran Islands, located on the largest island of Inis Mor. During peak season, specifically July and August, it is very important to book ahead of time.

The Location

This hostel is located atop a hill, which means you have a bit of a hike from the pier where the ferry will drop you off. On the pier, you may rent bikes, which can make your trip easier if you can manage with your luggage. There are also vans available that can assist you if the kilometer walk is too strenuous. Once you reach Mainistir Hostel, you will see the walk is well worth the beautiful ocean view.

The "city centre" is situated around the pier including a few restaurants, shops, and one grocery store that you will pass by on your way to Mainistir. You will also pass the most popular of the island's bars, Joe Watty's, which usually offers live music at night and a pleasant mix of locals and tourists.

The island is one of the few remaining places where the primary language is still Gaelic but English is also prevalent. The landscape is ideal for long walks and bike rides to megalithic forts, towering cliffs, and beaches. The weather changes fast so you will want to be prepared with numerous layers of clothes. Plus it is almost always windy!

Rooms and Bathrooms

Mainistir Hostel offers four dorm rooms with six beds in each, private double bed ensuite, private double bed, and private twin bed. A key deposit is required which means you can lock up your belongings in your room. Of course in the dorms you do have others who will be sharing that space. Therefore keep valuables with you if you are worried about them.

All dorms and shared bathrooms are kept reasonably clean. The sheets may have a stain or tear. The bathrooms offer free, hot showers with plenty of counter space, mirrors, and hooks for clothing (although, sometimes the hot water goes out, so before you take a cold shower ask the staff to fix the problem).

Common Spaces

The clean and tidy lobby offers a great place for meeting other travelers, reading, using the internet (with free wireless access), or just enjoying the view out the front windows. There are also two picnic tables out front you can enjoy a drink, meal, or smoke. Bottled water and soft drinks are available at the front desk and the friendly staff can assist you in getting a rental bicycle, van pick-up, or offer directions to the best spots on the island.

The hostel is generally quiet during the day and late at night when most are out and about. The evenings offer a nice time to chat with staff and travelers.

A complimentary breakfast is offered from 9 to 10 a.m. with coffee/tea, cereal, toast (and every other day oatmeal and/or juice).

As long as you make reservations, an amazing vegetarian dinner of Caribbean-style cuisine is made nightly by the owner, Joel. This buffet is some of the best food available on the island (and all of Ireland, if you like food other than pork and beans or fish and chips). At 8 p.m. sharp, soup is served, followed by the main course, and a freshly made dessert with coffee or tea. Feel free to bring your own wine or beer, since water is the only drink served with the meal.

Summary

It's worth mentioning that the owner doesn't like people and can be rude. And the staff are somewhat more accommodating, but also will be rude to you if you get on their bad side. Apparently the off-season is not recommended, as at this time all staff has left the island and it is just the unfriendly owner.

All and all this is a wonderful place to stay if you are trying to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city or if you just prefer a smaller, more intimate setting. On the Aran Islands you are likely to see sun for at least a part of the day and get some good exercise if you are up to the challenge. We met numerous fun and lively people during our week's stay at Mainistir Hostel and would recommend it to anyone!

Exclusive Hostelz.com Review
September 2007

Photos taken by the Hostelz.com reviewer — Genuine photos you can trust.
Location/Contact
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Hostelz.com Guest Reviews
5   Wonderful place to stay, fantastic food The views from the hostel are fabulous and it is near enough to Kilronan for convenience but far enough away to be gloriously peaceful. The private rooms are comfortable and well equipped and Joel's food is amazing. It would be worth coming for the food alone! Joel will organise bus tours, bicycle hire and supply information about any corner of the island. it is a great place for all ages.  , British ()
1   Dirty, smelly ... the list is endless. Take the other hostel! A disgusting smell of rancid fish in the kitchen fridge turned my stomach during a recent stay there. This hostel constitutes a health hazard ... dirty, smelly ... these are understatements. Despite the 'arrogant posh boy' affectations of the owner, the vicinity of the place itself is decrepit, with years of accumulated rubbish in heaps out the back and dirt literally everywhere. I wouldn't eat here if the snobbish owner/manager paid me to. Mind your health, mind your head, avoid this dive!  , United Kingdom ()
1   Not recommendable -- take the other hostel on that island Extremely unfriendly owner, very dirty facilities that are in a bad shape -- for example it is nearly impossible to cook in the kitchen, location is 15 min walk outside the harbour village, our double room was ok.  , Ireland ()
1   Rude staff, unreasonably priced, dirty, smelly ... the list is endless By far this excuse of a hostel is the worst ive ever seen on all accounts. Firstly I think youd need your head checked if you hand over money to stay here its a kip. Not a good location. Better toilet and shower facilities at a music festival. The owner is the rudest most obnoxious man Ive ever laid eyes on. He made you feel like an inconvenience to be there even though we were after payin e50 (more than the local hotel price) to stay. We were locked out of the hostel when we returned from our evening out, our room was cold, beds so uncomfortable, tea and coffee facilities in the room were FILTHY. Breakfast was inedible and while we were barely tolerating a cup of tea we were told to leave. It was so disappointing to say the least. Let just say if I had to sleep rough or stay there for free Id be sleeping rough, not worth the hassle!! Do urself a favour and stay away from this dive!!  , Ireland ()
1   Unfriendly and badly kept My friends stayed at this hostel for one night and I stayed at the campsite near it and the campsite was far better. The owner of the hostel is abrupt and mean, the hostel itself is not comfortable and can get very cold. A stay at Mainstir Hostel will ruin your holiday!  , Ireland ()
2   Unhygienic, unfriendly I stayed in a dorm bed at this hostel for a night at the end of October '09. If I had arrived earlier in the day I would have moved to another hostel however it was too late for this. Thankfully the room was clean and I felt comfortable sleeping there for a night. Apart from that, I was disappointed and upset with my experience at this hostel. Even though I had made a reservation, I had to plug the kitchen fridge in and wipe it clean to use it and the smell from the dirty saucepans in the cupboard was certainly enough to put you off eating altogether! The cereal provided for breakfast was stale and served in a dirty container. The man who greeted us and attended the front desk was not friendly and had a very short manner. I found it hard to appreciate the relaxing music and nice view in this unhygienic and tense living environment. I would strongly recommend finding places other than Mainistir House Hostel if you want to enjoy your visit to Inishmor.  , Australian ()
1   Very cold and damp We were here for tedfest and there was no heating in the middle of winter in the dorm rooms the radiator leaked onto our clothes. There was so much damp that there was mildew on the duvets. The only good thing about it was the tea!  , Ireland ()
5   For the best (yet cheapest) food in the islands, stay here This hostel was a fabulous place to stay. Don't be put off by some of the bad reviews below -- my private room was extremely clean and decorated in a lovely way. It was also equipped with tea-making facilities, bathrobes, lamps, armchair, and magazines. And it was no more expensive than a private room in the other hostels on the islands. The owner of the hostel is a very talented cook who takes great pride in what he does. In the morning, our complementary breakfast included the most delicious brown bread and muffins straight out of the oven. The evening dinner is probably the best you can get in Ireland for that price. He even made homemade ice-cream which was served in a liqueur for dessert. He uses fresh herbs and vegetables in everything and there was more than enough of everything to eat. This dinner was the highlight of my stay and I met some interesting people in the dining room. If you're going to the islands, stay here.  , Co. Cork, Ireland ()

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