Arriving at the check-in area of the Big Chill Hostel, Lagos in the Algarve, Portugal, I was greeted by a group of travellers surrounded by suitcases and backpacks, and a girl lounging on a scatter cushion-covered sofa, strumming a guitar. As I joined the queue waiting to check in, she invited me to sit down and we spoke for a little while about where we were from, and how long we were staying in Lagos for. It turned out that she was actually working at the hostel. I wish my job was more like this; already, the Big Chill hostel was beginning to live up to its name!
Why I chose to stay at the Big Chill Hostel
I chose to stay at the Big Chill Hostel because:
1. It was cheap (£18 per night for a 6-bed room when I stayed there in early July). As I booked through Booking.com, I didn’t have to pay until I arrived at the hostel and I could cancel free of charge at any time up to 24 hours in advance of the booking if I changed my mind.
2. I was travelling solo in Portugal and although I’d never stayed in a hostel before and had some apprehensions about it, what better way to meet people than sharing a room with 5 strangers? From reading reviews of this particular hostel, it sounded like the guys who run it, Miguel and Ricardo, were very friendly and helpful, and that it’d be even easier to meet new people here because they organise social events.
3. It’s only a 15-20-minute walk away from Lagos town centre and just a 5-minute walk to the nearest beach, Praia Dona Ana, named one of Conde Nast’s Top 50 Best Beaches in the World in 2013.
You can check-in at the Big Chill Hostel anytime from 3pm – 11pm, while check-out is anytime up until 12pm. Upon checking-in, I met Ricardo. He was very upbeat, welcoming and informative. He handed me a map of Lagos, told me about the best places to go and gave me the Wi-Fi password. He even asked if I wanted to go on a kayaking and snorkelling tour that day, but as it happened I had already placed a booking for a similar tour before I arrived in Lagos (which I have since blogged about, here) so I gave this a miss, but throughout my stay the hostel organised several pub crawls, a BBQ and a boat trip (although there is no pressure to go along if you don’t want to). I paid for my booking in Euros and I was given a front door key, a room key and a locker key. I also hired a towel (a €10 deposit may apply for this, as well as a €2 fee for washing) to use throughout my stay.
After checking-in, I went to explore the Big Chill Hostel…
Aside from bean bags and a cushioned sofa, the chill-out area in front of the check-in desk features a large wooden table with stools and padded seating, a wall-mounted TV and a selection of books.
If you walk right through the chill-out area, you’ll find a balcony equipped with patio furniture and a beanbag so big and comfy, there’s a risk you may not get up again if you lie on it!
A work of art on a wall
What really caught my attention when I sat on the balcony (aside from the restaurant next door, O Amigo Snack Bar), was the long white wall in the courtyard below, literally covered in abstract street art. A chat with Miguel revealed the story behind this wall.
Miguel owns a reggae bar in Lagos town centre called One Drop (I’ve been there and I love it!) and some of his friends there are street artists. They thought the plain white wall looked pretty boring, so one night after a couple of drinks, they started graffitiingthe wall. At first they just did a few bits here and there, but then they decided to just paint all of it. It took three of them about a month, on and off, to get creative with new ideas and cover the entire wall with their artwork. The finished result is very eye-catching, transforming a ‘boring’ white wall into a thought-provoking work of art.
I stayed in a 6-bed dorm featuring bunk-beds, a toilet and a large shower, although 2-bed, 4-bed and 12-bed rooms are also available (I figured sharing my room with 5 strangers would be enough for my first hostel experience!) The beds were fairly comfy and covered in a thin blanket, ideal for the hot Portuguese summer heat. Meanwhile, the toilet and shower was cleaned on a daily basis.
The Big Chill Hostel has two shared kitchens; one downstairs, and one upstairs, with self-catering facilities available in each. There is a fridge in the kitchen in which you can store any food belonging to you, labelled with your name and departure date.
Through the door at the back of the downstairs kitchen, there is a large outdoor patio complete with bench-seating (perfect for eating your breakfast in the sunshine), a BBQ area…
The Big Chill Hostel was everything that I’d hoped it’d be, and more. Any concerns I had about staying in a hostel (as it was my first time) were soon laid to rest; the lockers were very secure, the rooms and toilet/shower were kept clean and sharing a room with strangers really wasn’t as weird as I thought it would be (although it does mean you can get woken up easily if your room-mates arrive home late at night or get up early in the morning).
Everyone was really friendly, and Miguel and Ricardo were so lovely; they go out of their way to make sure their guests have a good time whilst staying at the hostel. I met new people from all around the world, and I made a few friends who I will be keeping in touch with.
This really is the perfect place if you’re looking for somewhere reasonably cheap to stay in Lagos in the Algarve, Portugal. Whereas some hostels in Lagos seem to be fully geared towards being party hostel, at the Big Chill Hostel there is a good balance between chill-out time and party time. The hostel attracts traveller-types of all ages, and is popular with both individuals and groups alike; I would happily stay here regardless of whether I was alone, or with friends. I’m already planning my next stay!
Big Chill Hostel
Estrada da Ponta da Piedade,
LT 23, 8600-544 Lagos,
+351 282 761 549
See more on Booking.com
Have you ever stayed in a hostel before? Where did you stay and what was it like?
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