As soon as we made it past the signboard welcoming us to Alice Springs, I chuckled a little. There was nothing funny about the signboard or the town. It was just that prior to planning this trip, the only time I had heard of Alice Springs was when I saw the Australian road trip movie “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”
What? It’s a pretty solid film.
As the shuttle sped closer to the town proper, the more I realized just how little I knew about Australia in general. To be fair, Oz doesn’t have much in common with the country I am from (other than World War II, in which we fought on the same side). But other than that and our love for Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman and the Hemsworth Brothers, there’s probably nothing else. I was on my fourth Kylie Minogue track when the vehicle stopped and the driver announced that this was where we should split.
The shuttle dropped us off by the road parallel to the obviously thirsty Todd River. Once again, we stood by the street in a foreign land, worried that it might take us long before we could find the hostel that would host us for the day. A minute later, it dawned on us just how silly that thought was for two reasons: Alice Springs is small, and we were standing right next to the YHA Hostel.
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
When we arrived, check-in time wasn’t until three hours later. Roger, the hostel manager, greeted us with a warm welcome. The reception agreed to keep our luggage as we kill the next few hours exploring the surrounding area.
Alice Springs YHA Hostel is in the town center, close to, well, everywhere in town. Just a block away are a mall with a mini-food court offering a variety of cuisines (from Chinese to Persian to Western) and lanes of restaurants. A couple of supermarkets stand just a short walk away, offering ingredients for those on a budget. Souvenir shops, apparel stores, and a few banks also flank the inner streets of the town. All these are within a couple hundred radius from the hostel.
The almost always dry Todd River
flows lies just across the street from the hostel, and close to it rises Anzac Hill, whose lookout is one of the most visited tourist spots in town. Just before lunch, we climbed to the viewpoint and was treated to a panoramic vista of the surrounding landscape. Perched atop the hill is a Memorial, erected to honor the members of the Australian armed services, who lost their lives in the first World War, but was later on expanded to pay tribute to everyone who has served Australia in all the wars she has participated in.
Rooms and Rates
At one in the afternoon, we were back at the reception to check in. The room assigned to us was a four-bed dorm, although we found ourselves alone throughout our stay. It was cozy, with two perpendicular bunkbeds. The linens smelled fresh, and the mattresses softer and a lot better than in the usual hostels. The only thing I found a teensy bit off was that the bed frame made squeaky noises when I moved.
The room given to us had four lockers, one for every person occupying the room. Each locker could accommodate one luggage. There were also quite a limited number of sockets, which a traveler with several gadgets might find a problem.
As of August 2015, here are the rates per bed per night:
16-bed dorm: AUD 23.5 (YHA members), 25.5 (standard)
6- or 8-bed dorm: AUD 25.5 (YHA members), 29.5 (standard)
4-bed dorm: AUD 29.5 (YHA members), 33.5 (standard)
Private Rooms. Rate per room per night:
Double/Twin room: AUD 78 (YHA members), 88 (standard)
Family room: AUD 108 (YHA members), 120 (standard)
Amenities and Service
Toilet and Bath. No ensuite bathroom, but the shared ones were impressively clean and close to the bedrooms. The bathroom was spacious, and equipped with all the basic necessities: hot and cold shower, shampoo and body wash, and hooks for your clothes and towels.
Facilities. The kitchen is probably one of the most important common areas for anyone backpacking across Australia, and Alice Springs YHA’s was fantastic. It was neat and large, and in a way extends to the outside where a few tables were arranged conveniently. The kitchen lies just next to the pool, which I wasn’t able to try because it was the middle of winter.
Wi-fi. Free wi-fi was slow. But the premium access (which you may avail of for a fee) was a big improvement in speed and reliability. If you’re traveling from another YHA hostel and you still have an active premium wi-fi access, it will still work here.
Staff. Service is one thing about Alice Springs that really stood out. The staff, especially those at the reception, were polite, friendly, and helpful. There was also so shortage of bright smiles and eagerness to help us make the most of our stay.
Alice Springs YHA Hostel
Cnr Parsons Street and Leichhardt Terrace
Alice Springs, 0870 NT
Phone: (+618) 8952 8855
How to get to Alice Springs YHA: From Alice Springs Airport, you may take an airport shuttle. Just tell the driver to drop you off at YHA Hostel. Ride costs AUD 13 per passenger.
Disclosure: While this is an honest review, let it be known that YHA invited us to stay at this hostel at no charge so we could experience their services firsthand.