The Il Castello is extremely easy to find, once you know where it is.
From the train station simply go through Porta Galliera and then follow Via Galliera for about 15 minutes until you can’t go straight anymore — in that little corner to your right you’ll find Via Porta Il Castello 4, an early 20th-century style apartment building. The hostel isn’t advertised, so you have to ring the bell for “Fashion Line Il Castello” and, once inside, follow the steps to the left of the elevator, first down, then up to the first floor. Easy, isn’t it?
The location is unbeatable: less than five minutes from Bologna’s main square, the Piazza Maggiore, yet, tucked away from the city center noise.
Guests here are a mix of global young travelers, people who just stay for a few nights while looking for a permanent place and some seasoned backpackers.
The set-up of Il Castello is more like a shared apartment than a hostel, with the two main reasons for conflict — cleaning the bathroom and cleaning the kitchen — solved, thanks to the attentive and friendly, yet strict 3-girl staff team. 8 rooms and 3 bathrooms are set around the breakfast room with its bar, which is also the only common area.
There was no information to be had, but if I was to guess I would say the place was used as a practice or an office before and has been repurposed: the wall between the two 4-bed dorms consists of closets, consequently locker size ranges from hand luggage size to full floor-to-ceiling wardrobe (bed C came with a full-on wardrobe…).
That set-up (and the small size of this accommodation) makes it very easy to meet other travelers. However, in contrast to other apartment-used-as-hostel places I have stayed at the experience is mostly pleasant as the rooms are clearly assigned and not overcrowded.
I stayed in the 4-bed female dorm, which I had found on booking.com for an average of €15/night. The cheaper option is the 8-bed mixed dorm and there are also single rooms.
I don’t think I have ever stayed in a more comfortable hostel bed: the mattress was soft but not saggy, the duvet an actual duvet (and not a wooly blanket…) and the pillow just the right thickness.
One big minus of the set-up: though there is almost no street noise you do hear a lot of what’s going on in the rooms next door and in the communal area. So, if your light sleep meets stupid English people coming in drunk at 4 in the morning you’re out of luck…
The three bathrooms (each a combination of shower and toilet) tended to be too few during crunch time (8:30-9am). And though the staff did a stellar job cleaning them each morning after breakfast, some guests didn’t seem to care they were sharing… Big plus: a towel was provided.
Though the stay itself was rather cheap, any additional service costs big-time: check-in after 7 pm is €10, so is laundry and parking (per night); luggage storage after 2 pm is €5 and ou are not welcome to hang out at the hostel once you’ve checked out.
WiFi, on the other hand, is free and works well throughout the hostel.
From what I could tell the radiators double as air-condition in the summer.
The complimentary breakfast — like most things at Il Castello — is well-organized. Guests find a small slip of paper next to their plate to check their boxes for:
I like the fruit, that’s not something you’ll find in many Italian hostels, and the coffee is quite good. But the breakfast as a whole is not very filling.
There is a snack machine. Every guest gets a key, loaded with €25 to use in the machine and pay upon departure. Extra points for this smart idea!
You can also order food via the reception.
If you prefer to cook yourself your options are limited: the guest kitchen consists of a microwave to heat things (or bake as it’s a 2-in-1), but apart from some plastic forks/spoons there are no dishes or cutlery.
Strolling through the city you will find several supermarkets, mostly inCoops. I often went to the Pam in Via Clavature and feasted on the 50% discounted fresh microwave meals.
As for eating out: you are in the center of town and will find eateries and restaurants for every budget, from cheap pizzerias (€1.30 per slice) to McDonald’s to the Mercato Mezzo to the Michelin star rated I Portici and a multitude of options in between.
Protip: the most delicious, quick and cheap lunch option to me is found in the bottege and salumerie: simply order appr. 50g (cinquanta grammi) of mortadella (a Bologna staple) plus some salami or ham (crudo), a ball of mozarella and a small focaccia bread — ecco, lunch!
Not convinced by the Il Castello Room and Breakfast Boutique in Bologna? Browse my accommodation reviews or find other accommodation on booking.com: