27 November 2022

Joe & Joe Hostels

Ok, I'm 42 and still stay in hostels. It's not exactly the luxury that I was expecting at this point, but let me tell you that hostels nowadays are often as hip as 4/5 star hotels. Don't believe me? Check out this informative book about luxury hostels around the world by Kash Bhattacharya/Gestalten. 

Recently I stayed at Yust Antwerp which was not much different to a hip hotel like Mama Shelter, with a trendy restaurant, events space and extremely comfy dorm beds. I can also recommend Gallery Hostel in Porto, complete with art, a contemporary eating space and a restaurant that you'd be prepared to pay top whack for. You can normally get private rooms at these places, but I'm been really impressed with the modern dorms, which are also a great way to meet new people which I did in both of these impressive hostels. 

Top right - the cool architecture, the eating area and the cabine room 

Normally in Paris (and London) I would stay at St Christophers Inns. In Paris there is Canal, which I love as (surprise, surprise it's next to Canal St Martin) it's close to some cool cafes, restaurants and a twin MK2 cinema. On one side of the canal you'll find a more arthouse, independent cinema, anyone who loves blockbusters can just cross over to the cinema at the other side. The thing is I'm finding this chain a bit dated, which has led me to give other places a try. Luckily on this trip I found Jo & Joe, a newish hostel chain from the Accor group. With striking iridescent bar areas, a plethora of urban art in both indoor and outdoor spaces (by local street artists) and a range of different room options this is THE place to stay right now for discerning travellers. It's no surprise that Mama Shelter and the Hoxton are part of the same group. 

The iridescent bar area

Currently there are two Jo & Joe hostels in Paris - one in Gentilly (only a few stops from Gare du Nord on the RER B) and the other in Nation, a trendy area well served by the metro and RER B (in the 11th/12th district). I'd stayed in an Air B&B in Nation before so I decided to try Gentilly, an area I wasn't familiar with. The hostel is literally three minutes walk from Gentilly station so it's really easy to get around. It's about four kilometres from the city centre so only a few stops from all of the action. There's a nearby France Prix shop, pizza/kebab places and a couple of bars (and a pizza van nearby which looked popular). 

There are a range of room options (the place has 195 rooms, after all) - dorms come in a range of different sizes. Smaller mixed dorms house four to six people, the larger room with eight to twelve dorm beds is slightly cheaper (34 euros/32 euros). I stayed in a cabin which is a bit like a pod - it's a dorm room but with separate enclosed queen beds for a bit of privacy (a dorm is definitely a good idea if you want to meet more people - I didn't see one person in my area). The cabins are great but there's a tiny amount of room at the end of the bed, and there needs to be plugs other than at the headboard. All of these options have a shared bathroom. For more privacy you can opt for a double bed with private bathroom (around 120 euros) and private dorm rooms for up to twelve people. 

Some of the yum affordable food available 

The food menu is pretty safe with burgers, salads and meat/cheeseboards the main options. I really enjoyed the french onion soup which was cheesy and total comfort food, and the loaded sweet potato fries. I was also informed that the quiche is a really good choice. The bar serves alcohol and hot drinks all day (happy hour is 5pm to 8pm). There's a cool beer wall with self service tap beers, and the cocktails are top notch. There's a range of mojitos on offer and the obligatory shot list.  Breakfast is continental and available from 7am to 10am. It includes pastries, bread, jam, spreads and hot/cold drinks. 

There's a real emphasis on space here - there's 200 square metre courtyard garden; a great place to hang out and meet new people. 

Check in is after 3pm but you can pay 10 euros for an early check in. Check out is 10am unless you want to pay to extend to 1pm. Lockers are 4 euros per day if you need to leave your bags. I wasn't keen on getting my own food/being my own waitress but I guess I'm lazy (there is no table service and you have to clear your plates). A couple of the bar staff were a bit stand-offish but I put that down to them being Parisian (sorry). Despite small issues I highly recommend it here, 

Book to stay at Jo & Joe Paris Gentilly here! You can also find Jo & Joe at Paris Nation, Paris Hossegor, Vienna, Medellin (Columia) and in Rio. 


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