*Disclaimer – This is NOT a paid or sponsored post, this honest Ericeira hostel review is based on my own experiences in this hostel*
Surfers Den hostel: Ericeira hostel review!
We, backpackers, know how backpacker hostels can make a difference to our trips, so we know the importance of finding a good one.
Backpacker Hostels have the power to make an ok trip into a good one, a good trip into something more special but also how it can have the opposite effect if the hostel is, well – shit!
Sometimes we find a place that we just feel at home in, like that hostel was made for us. This is exactly what happened whilst I backpacked through Portugal, I arrived in a little beach town called Ericeira and stumbled upon this little backpacker hostel, the Surfers Den hostel.
Now, regular readers will know Forever Roaming the World isn’t a blog that just writes any old post, nor does it just write hostel reviews for the hell of it.
However, on this occasion, I feel Surfers Den hostel Ericeira deserves one. This gem of a backpacker hostel turned my time in Ericeira from special to memorable.
Oh, and don’t be put off by the name; Surfers Den hostel – if you’re not a surfer there’s no problem – I’m not one either and still loved my time there!
A backpacker hostels veteran
It’s fair to say since I started backpacking way back in 2010, I’ve stayed in more than my fair share of backpacker hostels all over the world. I’ve been in every type, and for different lengths of time from few days, weeks, months and even lived in some. There have been fantastic ones, some became homes and others?… Well, the less said about them the better.
I’ll be honest, I stumbled upon the Surfers Den hostel by accident, I had planned to stay somewhere else but with it being in a difficult location, I looked for different hostels in Ericeira found this one and decided to stay for the first night and head up to the other the next day.
However, as with backpacking, plans can change on a whim, you stumble upon places and fall in love with them – and that is exactly what happened here.
You can leave the Surfers Den hostel Surfers Den hostel, but you can’t check out!
So why did I end up staying in the Surfers Den hostel longer? Well, let me ask you, have you ever walked into a place where you’re instantly engulfed and sucked up in a big ball of positive energy, happiness, smiles, and laughter? – Well that exactly what happens to you from the moment you walk through the gates and greeted by Enrico or Federico. This hostel isn’t just about the physical look or its facilities – It’s about the charm, the warmth and special atmosphere it thrives maintain. And that is why I ended up forgetting all about that other hostel.
Don’t get me wrong, over the years there’s been other backpacker hostels I’ve loved, felt a special atmosphere in, felt at home but Surfers Den hostel just grabbed hold of me and every other guest I met during my time there. So much so, we even nicknamed it Hotel California, if only for the one line in the song – ýou can leave but you can’t check out’.
I can honestly say, I’ve long left the hostel and Portugal but I don’t think I’ll ever check out. There is only one other hostel that grabbed me like this.
Where is Ericeira and this backpacker hostel?
Ericeira wasn’t originally on my radar, but a fellow backpacker had pointed me in it’s direction, and if you’re a backpacker who tries to avoid over-touristy places then this small fishing beach town in Portugal has a place for you. Whilst it’s not over-touristy, it does attract its fair share of both local and foreign tourists during the summer and surfing seasons.
You will find Ericeira on the coast of Portugal, south of fellow surfing spots of Peniche and Nazare, above Sintra and 50 KM from Lisbon.
The backpacker hostel itself couldn’t be in a better position; less than a 100 yards from the main bus station (it’s next door) So perfect for those of you who don’t like booking in advance, want to trek up steep hills or go hunting around the town for hostels. The towns main attractions, shops, funfair, restaurants, cafes, bars, and main beaches are all within walking distance. And, the main center only a 5 minute walk away.
A brief history of the hostel
Surfers Den Hostel was only opened in July 2018 by two Italian surfer friends Frederico and Enrico. I have to say, it was so good and refreshing to meet two owners of a backpacker hostel who care so much for their guests, passionate about making their hostel a memorable experience for you and just how dedicated they are.
The two of them built the hostel up by themselves after acquiring a plot and a rundown building. They grafted, cleaned, built and decked the hostel themselves. They literally put their own sweat and blood into making this hostel ready.
I’ve met plenty of owners who feel once their hostel is open their work is done, they don’t see their guests as people but just bookings and money. There are owners out there who couldn’t care less about the atmosphere, the physical state of their hostel nor give two shits about you.
These two are not like that at all and that’s also why I decided to right this hostel review, to help these great guys out.
All about the guests
Enrico and Federico, they will go out of their way to make you feel welcome, try to involve you and try to get to know you – Even though they are always on the go. They are both constantly looking for ways to improve the hostel, they are happy, very appreciative to take on feedback from their guests, and do what they can to keep improving.
Along with the cleaner, the two of them are the heart and soul of the positivity and charm of the hostel; their radiance just rubs off on their guests. Yes, I understand I seem to be waxing lyrical about them, but when you meet two owners like this, then that’s all you can do!
In their own words:
“The Surfer’s Den is our dream come true. After years of surfing trips around the world we ended up Ericeira, the only World Surf Reserve in Europe. As many do, we immediately fell in love with this magical place, and finally decided to move here. In little time we managed to create a place where to share our love for the surfing life with anyone who will join us!”
Surfers Den hostel Ericeira Portugal Facilities
Before I get into the hostels physical aspect, the facilities, and amenities – I would like to remind everybody it only opened in July 2018.
While everything in the hostel is brand new, it’s kept very clean, everything works as it should but it is in its infancy. So you shouldn’t expect this hostel to have everything a more established hostel would have, I mean all the extras with all the trimmings. You shouldn’t expect the hostel to have every single facility and amenity you can think of. It does, however, have all the basics a hostel should have, and much more than some hostels I’ve stayed in has.
UPDATE NOTE 2020: Having kept in touch with the owners I do know a lot of amenities and facilities have been upgraded since originally writing this post. The two owners are constantly looking to improve the hostel for its guests.
The rooms and prices
Surfers den hostel has a big and spacious 6-bed dorm and 4 private rooms. The hostel welcomes everybody, it doesn’t matter if you’re solo traveling, a couple, traveling in groups nor your age.
The Dorm comes equipped with private draws with a padlock, a clothes rack, individual night lamps, and plenty of sockets. The beds themselves are comfortable without being overly luxurious. There is no fans or Aircon in the room but it doesn’t need them as the big window not only lets in plenty of light but also plenty of flowing air to keep the room cool. Extra sheets and pillows can be requested too.
If dorms are not your thing or you want your privacy, you can also choose from one of their 4 private rooms too, which again are very spacious and come with all the basic amenities you need.
While the rooms are not completely soundproof, and as in most hostels there will be some noise, it’s not overly loud and can sleep in peace.
Room Prices vary throughout the year depending on seasons – Check out their website for live prices.
The hostel contains four main unisex bathrooms, which are all very clean and well kept. They are cleaned on a regular basis, equipped with power showers and sockets in the bathroom. The size of the bathrooms are a bit small and may be a concern for some but I’m nitpicking here.
Even with the Surfers Den Hostel in its infancy, they provide all the basics in the kitchen. The kitchen and dining room is very spacious, with plenty of light so you can sit comfortably on a large dining table.
It comes equipped with a fridge, space to store your own food, a couple of electric hobs, a toaster, kettle, and microwave. Although there is not an actual stove the hobs do the job and there may be a stove and oven in the future.
The hostel also offers a FREE breakfast in the morning between 8.30 to 11 am with like most backpacker hostels in Portugal It’s an assortment of freshly baked bread, spreads, hams and cheese, tea and coffee and cereal.
The common areas
Due to the size of the hostel and a few regulations beyond the owner’s control, there isn’t an actual indoor lounge as yet but I do know they are working on this to have one in the future. However, don’t be alarmed and think there’s nowhere to hang out. There is plenty of space to socialize, work, relax, eat, and drink around the large dining table in the kitchen, music is also played constantly through the hostel.
And, although the hostel doesn’t have an indoor lounge it compensates with a great little outdoor decking chillout area with ample seats and even a small pool to dip into on those hot days (most days). I spent quite a lot of my time here lounging around with my superbock (Portuguese beer). There is also a front garden area complete with sun loungers to catch a tan if you want some time to yourself.
The outdoor area is also equipped with a Barbeque, so bring your burgers and sausages when you check in!
With this being a surfing town, Surfers Den Hostel also offer beginner to expert surfing lessons, which you can inquire about and book once you arrive. For those of you who are experienced surfers, there are storage spaces for your boards or the option to rent from a range of boards too.
The two owners love surfing too, so if every you need any pointers, they’re always more than willing to help you out. They may even head out for a surf with you, I know they love their sunrise and sunset surfs.
You can also sign up for Yoga classes from the hostel with Ericeira Yoga Studio, situated across the street, which is the most renowned in town. They offer a variety of classes throughout the day: hatha, Ashtanga, aerial, vinyasa flow, yoga for surfers, guided by professionals in a cozy and warm environment. Again, you can inquire and book once you arrive at the hostel
You can find more information on their activities here: Surfers Den Hostel.
The atmosphere makes Surfers Den Hostel special
I’m sure as you’ve been reading through this post, you know how much I’ve spoken about the good vibe and atmosphere in this backpacker hostel. It’s not just important for the owners to keep up this atmosphere but backpackers, in general, are more likely to stay in places that have a good vibe.
(If you have never stayed in a backpacker hostel before, take a look at ‘Hostels, more than a place to sleep!‘ to get a better idea of what to expect in them)
As this is an important aspect of the hostel, if you want to give this backpacker hostel a go and arrive in town in a bad mood or negative vibe this place will help it float away.
Also, while this is a small, homey hostel, socializing is not just welcomed but is encouraged by all the staff. That’s not to say you will be forced to socialize, if you need time to yourself, not in the mood to talk to anybody then you’re free to be on your own.
However, if you do want to socialize, have a few drinks or even want to party, again you are free to do so as long as you don’t bother guests that don’t. I personally spent most the week partying with another guest, we didn’t bother anybody and the owners even joined us for drinks some nights. So whatever you’re looking for, you’ll get it here.
One big family
In creating the positive atmosphere and good vibe, the owners ultimately are looking for their hostel guests to be one big family rather than just a bunch of backpackers coming in and going.
I know there are plans in the future for hostel activities, to have meals all together both in the hostel and going out for meals, or going out for drinks together. Again none of this will be forced on you but little things like this give backpackers, especially long-term backpackers some home comforts.
My Surfers Den hostel review overview
As you can tell, from how highly I’ve spoken of this hostel, I had an incredible time in Surfers Den Hostel. From the minute I stepped through the gates and met Enrico to the moment I had to force myself to leave, it was very special.
As I mentioned at the top of the post, I’ve stayed in many hostels over the years, some will stick with me and some were frogetton from the moment I left the place. The Surfers Den hostel will always stay with me and I wouldn’t even hesitate to stay there again if and when I return to Ericeira.
That atmosphere created inside the hostel, I’m sure will not be replicated many more times, not that uniqueness anyway. So if you like a backpacker hostel with a special feel to it then all I can really say is, if you are looking to head to Ericeira, pop into the Surfers Dend hostel, check it out for yourself, let it capture you and decide for yourself if you ever want to leave.
Granted, I’m sure it won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, some of you will just want a place to sleep in and leave the next day but for the majority of you I’m sure you will have a similar experience to mine.
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