I spent four nights between three hostels in Moldova. Had I gotten any sleep at all, I’d say it had been a nightmare. Well, I did get a little sleep, but it was pretty bad. I hadn’t expected to stay in hostels at all, but the person I was going to stay with had just moved back in with their parents, and I had to resort to other accommodations. What’s more, that was on the heels of my snafu with couchsurfing in Cyprus.
The first hostel I booked was the Suisse Hostel. It was located in one of the original Hotels, right in the heart of the city. I chose it based on the fact that it had AC in the rooms, and Chisinau (the capital of Moldova) was scheduled to be over 100°F! After a week of no sleep in Cyprus due to sweating all night, I needed a cold room to sleep in.
Arriving in Chisinau at 6 a.m. from Cluj, Romania, I walked into town from the bus station (which wasn’t a short walk, but I was up for the exercise). When I got to Suisse, I couldn’t find the hostel. There was a sign for Suisse Apartments, but no entry was visible. I finally found the hostel in the back of the building. It turns out some guy owns the whole building, and half the rooms are hostel dorms, while other rooms are serviced apartments. The office of the hostel was located in his personal residence, which is the central room of the building.
In most points, the hostel was pretty good. Maybe 8 out of 10 stars. The main place it fell down was maintenance, where 3 stars would be generous. The exterior of the building and entrance also need repairs, but that’s standard for most of Eastern Europe where the government owns the building itself, and families own the individual apartments.
The biggest problem actually came with getting the AC to work. Seems there was only one controller for the three rooms. When I wasn’t able to find it, I managed to get the AC going with an app on my tablet. A few minutes later, the receptionist came in to “fix” the AC, but only set it back to hardly working. I got it going again, only to have her come in at 7 a.m and turn it off, which was the end of my sleep.
The hostel was fully booked after the second day, since over 100 Peace Corps members all around Moldova were having a reunion in the capital, and I had to move on.
After Suisse, I found what was called hotel apartments on Booking.com. The name was Visit.Md (for Moldova), and the photo looked wonderful with a loft bed and everything. The best part was that it was listed as 200 Lei for two days, which was roughly $5 a night.
I went to the location on Google Maps, but only found a hotel which had long since been closed. I finally managed to reach them by email, and half an hour the led me to an apartment behind the hotel. As you might have guessed, it looked nothing like the image on the website. But aside from a slightly stale odor, there wasn’t anything to complain about. Then the lady asked me for payment, saying it was 1200.
What?! How did the price suddenly 5x? Well, it seems Booking.com decided to default my location to Romania (where I had never used the website), and set the currency in Romanian Lei instead of Moldovan Lei, which is 1/5 the value. Since the $25 a night wasn’t in my budget, I took my bags and moved on to another hostel. The moral of the story: always double check the currency of your booking website, and that goes for everything – flights, accommodations, etc.
Funky Mamaliga Hostel
Funky Mamaliga was actually recommended to me by a couple people, including my erstwhile host. It wasn’t until I got there when I remembered why I chose Suisse in the first place – Funky Mamaliga doesn’t have air conditioning. They don’t have a fan either. And that was the day when the temperatures went over 100!
Again, my first impression of the hostel was that I had the wrong place. From the street, it looked like a couple of abandoned, dilapidated shacks. But then I got around the corner and saw the awesome little terrace with a ceiling of grape vines. The staff were incredibly friendly, wanting to take selfies with me and hear my stories. It also turns out I missed a guy by two days who I’d met in a hostel in Tirana, Albania two years ago!
They had a few rooms available, but the one I got was an exterior building in which I was the only occupant! It was still crazy hot, and for some reason I didn’t fall asleep until after 5 AM, but at least the bed was comfortable. I slept in a bit, but not too late. I had an appointment at a hair salon at 10:30, but that’s another story.
That night, the hostel was hosting a small party, and they said there would be a lot of noise until 4 AM. As I was quite short on sleep at that point, I decided to go for one final hostel in Moldova.
Chisinau Chill Hostel
Looking through Hostelworld and Booking.com, I found a hostel that advertised air conditioning and free laundry. It seemed too good to be true.
After finding the hostel (since Chisinau seems to have a rule that hostels aren’t allowed to advertise their location), I found out that they actually didn’t have air conditioning in the rooms. The only room that had air conditioning was the tiny common room, that you had to walk through to get to the bathroom. I was a little desperate to get air conditioning at that point, and I found I could sleep on the couch in the common room for a small discount.
Then I asked them about their free laundry. Nope, that was a mistake on the website too. I had to pay for the laundry, and it was more than the discount I got on the bed. I gave him my bag of laundry and went shopping for some new clothes. When I came back, I asked if they had started my laundry yet, and they said no. So I gave them my new shirt and shorts to add to the load.
The next morning, I went to look for my laundry before I took my shower. They couldn’t find it. For several minutes we looked for it, until it was finally located behind the stairs. Uncleaned! I got my money back, but there’s nothing worse than wearing dirty clothes. Well, maybe there is, but dirty clothes are not something I enjoy.
Personally, I’d recommend the Funky Mamaliga Hostel, as long as it’s not too hot. It had the best atmosphere, staff and cleanliness. Hostel Suisse would be a close second, and first if it’s hot. Unfortunately I can’t recommend Chill Hostel for obvious reasons. The nice thing was all three hostels were the same price.
In terms of what there is to do in Chisinau – not a lot. In fact, many people asked me how I could visit for four days. However, the rest of Moldova has some amazing attractions, including the Guinness World Record for the largest wine cellar. Mileștii Mici is a whopping 200 km long. That’s 124 miles. That’s CRAZY! I’ll have to be back someday for that tour! I’d be willing to spend a month in Moldova, simply for the cost of living and the food. It would be a great place to work on the blog and relax for a while. Just not when it’s so hot. So yeah, I’ll be back to Moldova someday. How about you?
Planning to visit Moldova?
Here’s some extra reading to save hundreds on your next vacation or stage of your journey.