Staycay Series: Stayokay Hostel Rotterdam

By Elie - 10:31 PM

Mention Rotterdam to anyone and you'd have a bunch of interesting locations pop in mind including the Euromast observation tower that happens to be the tallest building in the Netherlands, the great Markthal where you'll food aplenty, and last but not least, the iconic Cube Houses or Kijk-Kubus as the locals call it. 

Quite literally, they are cubes!

Set in the heart of Rotterdam, the Cube Houses are the work of the Dutch architech, Piet Blom in 1977. The area consists of 39 mini cubes that are stuck together on Overblaak Street, which is coincidentally right in front of the Rotterdam Markthal. A train and metro station aptly named Blaak can also be found right next to the building for your convenience.

We took this picture the first time we visited Rotterdam in May

At first glance, the Cube Houses that are tilted at a 45 degree angle may seem like an odd construction but makes for a great backdrop for pictures on social media. Visitors are welcome to step into the area, where these cubes are arranged to create a hexagonal shape from the inside. There's also a chess museum hidden within one of the units, with entries being chargeable at €2 per person. It's a real must-visit for chess lovers, though if you're not into the game, it may not be for you. 

What not many people may not know, however, is that there is a possibility for you to stay in one of these cubes for a night. Run by a hostel group called Stayokay Hostels, the Stayokay Hostel Rotterdam branch is obviously set in Rotterdam and provides lodging in these bright yellow and iconic cubes. Of course, my better half and I became really intrigued and decided to book a stay on my birthday - because why not? And with that, here's my review to my not-so-okay stay at Stayokay Rotterdam.

Room tour!

The room we booked came with a private bathroom and 2 single beds, in which if you see in the video, they weren't made when we first arrived. This was a part of the Stayokay Rotterdam experience, as you were expected to make your own beds. A one night stay in this room set us back €75 for 2 people, excluding a city tax of €3 per person. Toiletries and towels are not provided, though you're welcome to rent the latter on-site. Thankfully, this was mentioned in their website when we booked, so we came prepared with our own towels because I wanted to save as much money as we could during the stay. 

Cue the bare necessities song 

When you first enter the room, you'll be provided fresh sheets, a pillowcase, a duvet cover, a pillow, and a duvet. The mattress is sparsely thin, but not to a point that it would have been uncomfortable. All in all, it's just what you'll need for a night's stay with no extras. Charger points are available where you see the bed lights are, but do bear in mind it only offers Dutch plug points so you'll have to bring your international adapter if you don't have electronics with the Dutch plug heads.

What it looks like when you HAVE made your bed

Because of the odd construct of the cube houses, it's quite inevitable that you'll have walls that curve around. This made placing our things around the room difficult, as most of them would have to go on the floor instead. The only other issue was how small the room was, so you're taking over what precious space you have. We were assigned Room 201 for our stay, which was right in front of the door when you first get off the elevator - something that while I thought was a blessing in the beginning turned out to be a terrible curse, but I will get to that later. 

Unfortunately, I had forgotten to take a picture of the private bathroom we had, but it's as basic as it gets. You'll only get one bottle of shower gel / shampoo mix in the shower, though I'm sure you can ask for more if needed. The bathroom came with a rain-shower type of shower head, which means you'd have to bring your own shower cap if washing your hair daily is not your thing. Owing to their "sustainability efforts", the water also stops after every 30 seconds so you'll be forced to do a military style shower. This meant very quick rinsing, very quick soaping, and then rinse again.

No thanks to the minimal construct, the entire bathroom tends to get wet after a shower so I don't recommend bringing your clothes in to change. The lights in the bathroom is also set to detect motion near the door and it turns off after a few minutes. I absolutely did not appreciate how the lights went off on me as I was cleaning up halfway, and I let out a yelp when it did - only to realize I had to track all the water and soap closer to the door just to activate the lights again. Although I warned my other half that this would happen, he too got a minor shock when the lights went off on him. Separately, I also found the bathroom reeked of pee when we first checked-in, and this was despite them claiming that the room has been cleaned prior. 

The night view from Stayokay Rotterdam's terrace
Beneath the many rooms, you'll find the lobby of Stayokay Rotterdam and a their in-house bar. Breakfast is also included in your stay, though we skipped it from the lack of sleep we had - something I would also be mentioning about after this. Free WiFi was supposedly provided at the hostel, though we didn't bother to connect to it so I can't mention anything about whether it worked or not. The staff provided us with a tiny booklet upon check-in and reminded us of the basic rules including being quiet after 10PM to ensure all guests are not disturbed. 

But here's where I can tell you, nothing gets enforced from the tiny booklet. While we tried to turn in at midnight, the loud yells, screams, and door slamming from the other guests kept us up all night. The same guests who were making these ruckuses also sounded very drunk, so my other half and I obviously didn't want to go out there to confront them. Having our room in front of the door as you exit from the elevator also meant we could hear these people go in and out across the entire night, so you can imagine how little we slept that night.

By the end of the day, my other half decided to wear his noise cancelling earbuds the entire night so he could get some undisturbed rest. I remember only knocking out close to 3AM that night, and it was only because I was way too tired to stay awake anymore. To say that the sleep quality was terrible was an understatement, because I could vaguely hear people screaming about until morning. So to quote the hostel's name, this was definitely NOT okay.

There were no staff members who told these guests to keep in down, presumably as there were probably no staff members at the lobby anyway. This deduction comes from the fact that there wasn't anyone at the counter when we tried to check-out at 11AM the next day, and we waited a good 15 minutes before anyone turned up at the desk. Speaking of check-out, we were also hassled to leave the room by their housekeeping team at 9.45AM, 10.30AM, and 10.45AM respectively. This, despite me telling them that we were packing up and getting ready to leave. Check-out was supposed to be 11AM anyway, so I found it absurd to harass your guests to leave earlier than that.

A model of Stayokay Hostel Rotterdam found at the lobby

While we were initially extremely excited with our staycation, my other half and I left the place feeling drained and frankly slightly ill - though I'm not sure if it was just from our lack of rest or from the questionable cleanliness of the room. This was very disappointing, because we loved how central the hostel was to everything that was available in Rotterdam. In fact, I hardly ever tell people not to stay at a hotel because experiences can differ but Stayokay Hostel Rotterdam is simply not somewhere I would recommend - ever.

Although you could argue that our stay was considerably cheap, I'm sure we could have added another €10 for somewhere else where we could actually get some sleep. We don't foresee ourselves returning to Stayokay Hostel Rotterdam in the near future (or ever), and it's probably easy to see why. I've also seen how there are more Stayokay Hostel places around the Netherlands, though at this point I'm not sure if we'll try those yet.

If you'd like to take a peek into the lives of the people in a Cube House, perhaps visiting the Kubuswoniningen Museum House would be a better choice. The museum charges visitors €3 per person to visit, but at least you wouldn't have to leave the place feeling like you haven't slept for days.

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