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HI - Philadelphia, Chamounix Mansion Hostel

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Description & Photos

Hostelz.com's Review
The best thing about HI - Philadelphia, Chamounix Mansion Hostel is that it really is a mansion.

The Location

Chamounix Mansion is located in a lovely park west of downtown Philadelphia. It’s scenic and peaceful, but quite isolated. Nothing is within walking distance and the nearest bus stop is about a mile away. Surprisingly, parking around the hostel is a bit limited. There are no actual parking places, just gravel areas next to the road where guests are instructed to leave their vehicles. The grounds are lovely, with a lot of flowering bushes and friendly cats, but the isolated location makes it inconvenient for travelers who do not have vehicles.

Rooms and Bathrooms

The large dorm rooms contain several sturdy wooden bunk beds, but not much room to store luggage or unpack. The beds are small and uncomfortable, and the blankets provided are quite scratchy. Hooks on each bunk bed give guests places to hang towels or jackets, but there is no place to hang up clothes. The bathrooms are separated into male and female facilities, and are able to accommodate several guests at a time. Showering is awkward because while there are towel hooks, there is no place to put clothes. For some reason, there is often a lot of water on the floor of the bathrooms as well. Everything seems relatively clean and in good condition, though.

Common Spaces

One thing that guests should be aware of is that the hostel is spread between two buildings -- the mansion and the carriage house (guests are placed here when the mansion is full). All facilities and common areas like the kitchen, laundry room, dining room, vending machines, and game room are located in the mansion. The carriage house consists of a male dorm and a female dorm, each with a large corresponding bathroom, and a private apartment on the second floor. There is no common area in the carriage house -- not even any seating on the porch -- so staying in the carriage house is a bit awkward, since everything, including the hostel’s office, is located in the mansion. Wi-Fi is also only available in the mansion. Carriage house guests are, of course, welcome to walk to the mansion to use the facilities and hang out with other guests, but it’s still kind of inconvenient to be placed in the carriage house. Quite a diverse array of travelers stay on this property, so socializing with other guests is especially interesting. Everyone is quite friendly and outgoing.

Summary

The worst thing about this hostel is the lockout -- guests are locked out of both the mansion and the carriage house between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day, and after 2 a.m. each night. Also, the numeric code needed to gain entry to the carriage house changes every day, so guests must first go to the hostel’s office in the mansion to get the new code for the day before they can re-enter the carriage house after the lock out. Sometimes the staff fails to mention this to guests. Overall, it’s a nice piece of property and a good value, but the setup and the lockout are pretty inconvenient. Chamounix Mansion Hostel is not a bad place to stay, but travelers may be disappointed by the way it is run.

by Baxter
Hostelz.com Staff Reviewer
May 2012

Photos taken by the Hostelz.com reviewer — Genuine photos you can trust.
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How is HI - Philadelphia, Chamounix Mansion Hostel rated on other websites?
 OverallCleanlinessStaffLocationAtmosphereSecurity
Hostelworld  
79%
77%
85%
55%
83%
89%
Hostels.com  
82%
84%
82%
71%
83%
80%
HostelBookers  
80%
81%
83%
55%
88%
84%
HI Hostels  
80%
79%
89%
72%
69%
82%
HostelsClub  
Not listed on HostelsClub.
Average  
80%
80%
85%
63%
81%
84%
HI - Philadelphia, Chamounix Mansion Hostel Reviews from the Web
Hostelz.com Guest Reviews
5   Cool hostel, cool people just outside Phili Staff were super friendly and helpful. Hostel was nice, and I liked that it was a little removed from the center of the city. Met awesome people. Make your own pancakes breakfast was fun. Cool layout -- you are in a mansion!  , age 23, USA ()
4   Everything But the Beds The bunk beds are sized too small to be comfortable for an average adult, much less a larger sized person. The mattresses are plastic-covered foam that have no springs or support. There is no box spring, just a layer of plywood under the mattress. I would have been more comfortable sleeping on the floor. Otherwise, the Chamounix Mansion is a lovely hostel, convenient by car to the museums (after rush hour) in a quiet location surrounded by nature.  , age 48, u.s.a. ()
4   Nice Hostel -- One Staff Member Needs Caution Beautiful park setting, not convenient for transportation, good accommodation generally worth it. One staff member seems to think rude and loud is ok ... its not ... he throws garbage bags right next to sitting guests -- not pleasant.  , USA ()
1   In dire need of a gut rehab While the Chamounix might have been a glorious mansion once, that is no longer the case. She has great bones, but the place needs a thorough cleaning, gut rehab and bath & kitchen redo. You should not sit in the living room while women are showering as the water runs downhill ... literally. The beds might as well not have mattresses, the sheets are below par. Had I known about the horrible condition of the Chamounix, I would never have agreed to chaperone 11 foreign exchange teens. They by the way, did not appreciate the accommodations either. I would have rather stayed at the flea bag motel.  , USA ()
4   Beautiful location, though difficult to get to Wonderful old mansion in a stunning city park. Great if you have a car; not so by public trans/walking. Staff is knowledgeable and friendly -- perhaps too friendly, as they did not ask people to talk quietly and keep food out of dorms. (Two hostelers from hell were there last week: A man who talked incessantly and loudly in the LR, and a woman who covered a 7-8 foot arc around her bunk with papers, junk food, dirty mugs, her computer -- and then hogged the public computer for most of the morning.) The place is immaculate & spacious. Be SURE to have your earplugs! Still, one of my favorite "rural" hostels in a vibrant city.  , usa ()
3   I would give it 3 1/2 stars I enjoyed my stay at the hostel. It was clean and quiet, but the beds were not very comfortable. They were foam mattresses with thick plastic coating that scrunched them down and made them kind of hard, so I take away 1 star for that. The common areas are nice. They could use some fly paper in the kitchen or a bug zapper! There were 2 evil cats hanging around the porch that kept sneaking in. I'm allergic to cats so I had to constantly blow my nose and got a rash. One of them bit somebody! The free bicycles were broken so we didn't get to use them. I take away a half star for the lockout! It's not a problem normally I guess if you are out seeing things, but it was really hot around 3pm and it would be nice to be able to come back to the hostel for lunch and a nap. The closest bus stop is over a mile away. I rented a car, but felt really bad for people who had to walk that far, especially with their bags. I gave people rides as much as I could, but the car was only so big and I felt really sad when we were riding with a full car and then saw one or two people half way along and couldn't squeeze them in. I think the hostel should offer a drop off service to the bus stop at least once or twice per day, especially since they have a lockout at 11:00. If it rains at 11:00 and people are locked out of the hostel and have to walk a long way then that's terrible, especially if they have suitcases!  ()
5   Very Nice It's a very nice hostel and we would stay there again! Bus to Philadelphia.  , USA ()
4   Worth the money My son and I stayed at this hostel November 3, 2007. It was the first time staying in a hostel. We were very pleased with our stay. The guy at the desk was very helpful -- gave us instructions on getting around town, where to eat, what to do. The hostel itself reminded me of the home I grew up in. For as old as it is, I thought it was very clean. I did find out the walls are paper thin -- one of the guests asked me to be quiet while talking on the phone and the next morning I thought a couple of guys were outside my door when they were actually in another room with the door closed. The location is peaceful and quiet. Luckily, we had a rental car, so getting there was not a problem. I would definitely stay there again with the rest of the family.  , USA ()

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