hostel highlight: Old Qingdao Observatory Hostel in Qingdao, China

On the night of my stay at the Old Qingdao Observatory Hostel, I got lost in the dark and in the cold. I was ripped off by a taxi driver. I was thoroughly confused. I did not speak enough Mandarin to sufficiently communicate. But, in a sort of bright turn of events, I got a free night's stay in a cozy hostel on a hill to make up for what was a seriously dizzying experience. Blogging really pulled a win, though the last minute of it all means poor quality photos. Sorry ya'll. 

En route to South Korea, I had an overnight layover in Qingdao, China. This meant that after a lovely Galentine's celebration and Skyping my loved ones, I had a night all to my lonesome to prepare for my epic week exploring South Korea. In planning for this layover and knowing Chinese airports are strictly against anyone sleeping in the terminal, I decided to book accommodation that was affordable {it was only 10 hours during the night after all}, close to the airport, and "safe." I say "safe" because there are a lot of shady hostels in the world. I've stayed places without proper doors, windows that don't shut, and lockers without...well...locks. I just needed a place to rest my head for a night in a new city where I'd feel comfortable. 

After what was another chaos-ridden night in China, I finally found comfort in the form of a hot shower and a comfortable bed where I could rest my weary head. 

Here's the scoop on my stay...

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I won't get into the fiasco that was my finding this place. I'll just say this: if you're arriving at night, get a cab. It'll cost you about 80 CNY, but it will save you time and frustration. If you're arriving in the day with little luggage, try the 702 bus to Shili YiYuan {which will cost you 20 CNY} and walk following the signs across the road near a church with a massive red cross.  Tickets for the bus can be purchased at the airport with cash, AliPay, WeChat, or UnionPay cards. 


I booked online using Priceline. After filtering and filtering, Priceline gave me the best bang for my buck. I paid online and received my booking confirmation right away. Unfortunately, once I finally made it to the hostel, there was a mix up with my confirmation and the Chinese receptionist spoke less English than I do Mandarin. They finally found my booking, confused by my middle name on my passport and not on my reservation {note to self, double check that next time} and the lady walked me to my private room apologizing profusely in Chinese for the mix-up. After a 30-minute communication struggle, we sorted it all out. It wasn't Priceline's fault, but rather a blocked-site error on the hostel's receiving end. Keep your confirmation e-mail for your records and you'll be sussed. If you run into more trouble, ask to speak with AJ and have a translation app on hand! 



WiFi is pretty non-existent, but that's taking into consideration that I use a VPN quite a bit. Even without a VPN, my Chinese phone struggled to find a connection and my phone call to Luke was interrupted with unstable WeChat connection. However, what the hostel lacks in bandwidth it makes up for with a private bathroom, heating {though bring wool socks, you'll need them}, a hairdryer {a real luxury, especially in this cold}, and a rooftop eatery that {apparently} features live music frequently. The English-speaking owner, AJ, can help you book a taxi to the airport or tours if you're staying in Qingdao more than an overnight. 

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This is not a typical Asian "party hostel." The rooftop bar and restaurant was the perfect place for a late night chat with Luke and a quick catch up with Amy and an "on the house" peppermint tea. People were eating with their friends and taking photos from the balcony. No heavy alcohol, no loud music. The hostel itself is a renovated observatory, so the city views are fantastic. There is also a giant telescope where you can check out the stars! Satirical artwork fills the hallway and rooms are decorated with handpainted murals. It's nothing flashy or fancy, but it has lots of character. 


For the equivalent of USD $12 per night for a private room {good to share with a significant other or close travel partner}, you get free internet, a Western-style mattress, unmatched views of the city, and a quiet place to stay. By comparison, a hotel in the area can cost you nearly USD $120.

Thanks to the people of Old Qingdao Observatory Hostel for having me and hooking a girl up despite communication barriers. As always, this post reflects honest opinions and observations from my stay. 
You can book your stay here.