Vagabond Backpackers is an old town house which looks like a large family house, and is small and friendly. It's definitely not a party hostel -- more a relaxing and a social hostel.
The hostel is about ten minutes' flat walk from the main Cathedral Square in Christchurch and is an easy walk from the Inter City bus stop. The hostel is inside the four avenues so lots of the backpacker buses will pick up from here. A big plus of this hostel is that it has off-street parking, which for an inner city location is a bonus. Although there are a few rundown houses on the walk to the hostel, the hostel itself is great and is very safe. Despite being near the inner city, the hostel is quiet and does not seem to have any problem with traffic noise.
Rooms and Bathrooms
The hostel is a combination of the main building and some outbuildings at the back. Also behind the main building is a small pleasant courtyard area with some picnic tables and shade -- a great place to sit outside and eat. There is a choice of dorm rooms, with the dorm rooms in the main building having only single beds (no bunks) at a slightly higher price, or conventional bunk beds in the rooms behind the main house. There are keys to each room, and also keys to the front and rear doors.
The bathrooms are modern, with two showers upstairs in the main building, and one combined shower/toilet downstairs, as well as three other toilets. These are clean and are well maintained, and during several visits, we noted that they were often checked and provided with fresh towels and new liquid soap. The bathroom/toilet layout works well, as there does not seem to be much waiting for showers. There are hooks in the showers for clothes.
The dorm rooms in the main building (slightly higher price) are spacious with plenty of luggage space. There are no lockers, but they do store valuables in the office safe if asked. The dorm rooms have four beds with good mattresses. Pillows and duvets are supplied as well (sleeping bags are not allowed). The rooms do not have long lists of rules and regulations, just a few attractive photos. Perhaps due to the small size of this hostel, it is quiet at night, and it is easy to get a good night's sleep here. There is a lot of space in the dorms, so plenty of room for backpacks and for packing/unpacking. The hostel also has an apartment in the next building.
The dorm rooms in the buildings at the rear have bunk beds, so are slightly more crowded but still spacious. Heaters were provided in all rooms, including the dorms. Some dorm rooms also have a table and chairs. The dorms are mixed sex.
The common spaces at this hostel are very pleasant and social. There is a well equipped kitchen (including a dishwasher and microwave), and plenty of fridge space in new fridges. The rubbish bins are often checked/emptied and the kitchen frequently tidied up. There is also a small laundry as well with a washing machine and dryer (they charge a small fee).
Next to the kitchen is the lounge area, which was very comfortable with new sofas and chairs. The hostel has a large video collection (free) as well as books. Due to the layout of the lounge, it is easy to talk to other hostelers but it is a quiet hostel, not a party hostel. Also in the lounge are two computers with internet (you'll pay by the hour). The guest comment book is full of very complimentary comments, and many guests return to this hostel, which is always a good sign.
Luggage can be stored without problem in a luggage room that is kept locked by the staff. The staff are very helpful and friendly and add a lot to this hostel. They are a great source of local info too and seem to enjoy helping travelers. The hostel has a lot of tourist information with racks of leaflets in the main lounge and also in the hall.
This is an ideal hostel to begin/end your trip in New Zealand. Its location so near the city centre means that it is great even if you do not have a car, and as it has off-street parking, is also a good choice for backpackers with cars. It is good as a base for relaxing, planning, or chilling out. It does not feel like a hostel, more like a travelers home. The choice of rooms here is good as well, and together with the helpful staff, makes it a great choice for Christchurch.