North American Travel > A Review of India House Hostel in New Orleans

A Review of India House Hostel in New Orleans

By BAY OLIVER
Published: July 3, 2009

There is only one mug, there are four plates, there is graffiti masquerading as art on the outside walls and the shower curtains have a generous layer of red mold growing on them. Welcome to India House Hostel, the jewel in New Orleans' crown.

When reviewing anything I try to be objective and provide both the positives and negatives. So, here are the good points about India House Hostel:

  1. The rooms are air conditioned (as is everything else is New Orleans)
  2. There is a pool (albeit an above-ground pool that's temperature is barely below the temperature of the air outside)
  3. There is free wifi (which is a given at almost all hostels these days)

But, these are small consolations for what is otherwise a complete dump. The private rooms are little more than tin sheds with a bed inside. The structure is literally made of corrugated iron with a thin layer of plywood inside to give the impression on being a normal dwelling. And they are small, dirty and painted in garish colours (red, green, blue, purple and yellow all in one room that is approximately 50 sq feet). Some would say, what more could you ask for at the price tag of $45 a night? I would say a lot more, given the photos they show on the website that are purporting to be the private rooms. I don't know where these rooms are, but I certainly didn't see anything like them.

All the staff live at India House Hostel. Why is this worth mentioning? Because it soon becomes obvious that they feel some sort of ownership over the place, and not in terms of pride at keeping it spic and span for the guests and themselves. No, their sense of ownership comes in the form that makes guests feel as though they are intruding on someone else's space, which clearly the staff think they are.

The kitchen has two functioning cook-tops and stoves which is great. But, it would be even better if there were some plates to eat your dinner off, and a mug from which to drink your tea. This is not even the smallest exaggeration, there were literally four plates and one mug - wanna share a cuppa? Happily there are a wealth of plastic bowls and cups, so stick with bowl-food and cold drinks and you're a-okay.

The showers and bathrooms are barely passable in terms of cleanliness, with red mold growing on the shower curtains and gunk and slime in every nook and cranny that does not become clean from a cursory wipe down.

I've read other reviews saying this hostel is great, and I'm sure it is if all you want to do is sit outside smoking and drinking, eating take-out and going into town later in the evening. But, if you wish to do anything more than that, and are traveling for an extended period of time, this is not the place to be. When you are backpacking for longer periods, any small comfort is appreciated. Even free toast and jam for breakfast is welcome, and a mug to drink your free morning coffee from certainly doesn't hurt. The only thing that is free at India House Hostel is the coffee and whitener, and the cockroaches. Yes, that's right, you have some small friends to share you space too.

The fridges in the kitchen are a disgrace. I'm not sure that they are ever cleaned. This may be due to the fact that the staff get their own fridge.

India House Hostel is located at 124 S Lopez St, just off Canal Street in New Orleans. Canal Street is one of New Orleans' parade routes, but it is certainly nowhere near the centre of town. It is approximately at 30 minute walk into town, and in the heat of summer this is not something undertaken lightly. You can catch the streetcar which costs $1.25 per trip and takes about 10 minutes to get into town.

If you're truly on a tight budget, and don't mind a bit of a dive, then give India House Hostel a go, but go prepared to expect the basic necessities only.

Comments

1. Jildaz on July 5, 2009

Just so you know, The roaches are all over town, and I mean everywhere.

2. Andrea on July 9, 2009

Reminds me of some of the hostels we stayed at in Europe. Hopefully you paid less than 50 Euro per night per person! And don't forget to shower with your flip-flops on!

3. Stephen Doherty on May 17, 2010

Regards the comments about India House being a dump, well it wasnt when I was there in 95', the picture of the "shacks" is where me and my girlfriend Jo stayed and although hot at night we found the place reasonably clean. I've certainly stayed in a lot worse. Yes,it is a very basic place to stay but you know that! Dont forget, after Katrina the place was under water and they had a monumental job of trying to put the place back together, and by looking at it now they have done a great job so dont knock it! If I had been able I would've got on the plane and given my time to the place. It is an intimate place, yes, people live in each others pockets but that is part of the experience, the charm. If your looking for cheap, decent and a reasonable place to stay to enjoy one of the greatest cities on earth and you aint got much money, then give this place a go. You cant please everyone, remember that. Thanks, and good luck India House, I will be back one day and thats certain.

Steve Doherty

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