Milan turned out to be surprisingly expensive in terms of accommodation. So when I found the New Generation Hostel – Urban for €13 a night (plus €2 tourist tax per night) and with fairly good reviews on Booking.com I jumped on the opportunity.
It is a fair way away from any of the tourist points of interest. But Milan has an excellent public transport system and if you feel like walking there is plenty of grand architecture, wide boulevards, and parks waiting to be discovered during the 45 minutes it took me to get to the duomo.
After my four nights at the hostel, I was happy to leave. Though it is really as good as the reviews will have you believe I felt uncomfortable with my dorm which I shared with a chatty long-term patron, a smelly guy, a couple of snoring guys and a lot of guys not respecting sleeping hours.
The New Generation Hostel – Urban is located outside Milan’s old town, next to the city’s university quarter, Città Studi. The nearest train station is Milano Lambrate, an easy 10 minutes walk down Giovanni Pacini.
It is part of a group of hostels dotted around Milan and catering to different types of travelers. The Urban Città Studi is the cheapest of them.
The first surprise upon arrival is that the hostel is occupying part of a former Franciscan monastery in a 1960s building. At the entrance, guests are greeted by a Saint Fransisco fresco next to an old horse-drawn carriage. In the ground floor of the building, in front of separate entrances, homeless and poor people are queueing up each morning for a shower and free food.
The area is safe, clean and friendly, dominated by students from the nearby university. The road quiet, apart from some child noises during the day from the soccer field in the back.
The hostel is spread over three floors: reception and a large common area with snack machines and a pool table downstairs and two floors with rooms, more common areas, and a kitchen.
The decoration is a mix of hip comic-style posters and old radios, scales and other household equipment with wine barrels serving as lounge furniture.
The patrons were 75% male, many backpackers staying only a night or two and a few long-term occupants who reckon living in the hostel dorm was cheaper than renting a room or apartment.
Dorm sizes go up to 18 with prices dropping accordingly. Most of the rooms are ensuite.
It turned out that 6-bed dorm I had booked, room 104, was, in fact, a 2+4 suite with my 4-bed room reached via the 2-bed room and each of the rooms having a bathroom, a good thing since only one of the bathrooms had a lock and the dorm was co-ed.
Upon check-in, I was handed two sheets, a fleece blanket, and a fresh pillow at the reception to make the bed myself. I didn’t mind as this guarantees that sheets are freshly washed.
I had an upper bunk, which was accessed by a wide set of stairs between the two bunks in the room. Quite a smart idea as I usually dread climbing down the narrow ladders. However, the beds were less than two feet apart and while the lower bunks were surrounded by full walls on three sides, turning them in small cabins, the upper bunks had not even a single railing and thereby offered no privacy at all but instead the constant fear of falling out of bed.
There were a plug, a light and a small shelf installed above each of the beds.
Each bed also had a big locker assigned, locked with a key and equipped with another plug to charge a laptop or camera battery overnight. The locker was big enough to store my 55l plus my 30l backpacks and still had space. What it didn’t have was hooks, rails or a shelf so things sat in there on a big pile and drying my towel was a challenge.
Overall the room was well-kept and clean, the floor being a notable exception — even right after cleaning it was still full of hairs and goo…
As advertised, the room came with a mini-fridge. I was grateful that most of the time no one was using it as it made a hell of a noise.
Nights were extremely cold. Surprising, not because of the flimsy blanket but because there was a modern climate unit (air condition and heating) installed which didn’t manage to heat up the room. Fortunately, I always travel with warm socks and thermals.
Finally, the WiFi worked alright throughout the building.
Breakfast was not included in the room rate and was not available.
The only food items available in the hostel came from vending machines in the reception area: coffee, drinks, and the usual snacks.
There is a kitchen but it is neither well equipped nor a pleasure to work in. A single look into the fridge was enough to convince me to avoid storing food or using the kitchen. There is only a 4-hub stove top, no microwave, no oven, no kettle.
Instead, I ventured to the numerous cheap eats in the area and bought supplies in one of the at least three large supermarkets within a kilometer.