There is something about places with quirky names. While planning our Vietnam travel, we were looking for cheaper hostels and came across Lily’s. We instantly liked it. The high ratings helped us to go for it too. Since it was our first stop, we had a lot of questions on Hanoi, food, tours, our itinerary in general. We wrote to them and got an instant reply from Snowy, one of the staff at the hostel. She was super helpful and addressed our long queries on WhatsApp. We were reassured that Vietnam is a friendly place and a right choice.
See You At Lily’s Hostel
When we reached Hanoi, the driver appointed by Snowy was waiting at the airport with our names on a board and welcomed us with a smile. We had heard the map is different from the territory, and it was true in the case of Hanoi as well. No amount of travel shows and Google searches can prepare you for the real thing. We were in the zone of amazement and didn’t realize our taxi has stopped and Snowy has come to get our luggage and help us navigate to the hotel in the relentless street traffic. The hotel looks like all others on this busy backpacker street.
As we stepped into the reception, we saw a room full of travel paraphernalia, cute posters, and notes from travelers, which makes it feel like quite a hippy/travel abode. The reception serves up as the waiting area, and many other things (depending on what time of the day or night it is!). This was my first exposure to Vietnam so couldn’t help notice the little things, like the worship box on the corner, with incense sticks in interesting shapes and tiny figures that would take me a long time to decipher.
Spreading the Bohemian Spirit
Since it is quite a busy place, we got straight down to business with the check-in process, and Snowy was helpful in doing the essentials – currency exchange, pending payments, deciding on our tour and travel plans, and basically getting acquainted with a new place and culture. The currency exchange involved some funny exchange on the new vs old notes, which I will leave to your imagination.
Behind the reception area, is the kitchen cum hangout area, called the Chill Room. The walls are painted black and have travel quotes written on it. My favorite is:
“When was the last time you did something for the first time?”
All the backpackers store their luggage here. Sometimes there is so much luggage in the room, it becomes tough to just step in, and finding yours is a fun exercise.
They have private rooms and dormitories. We stayed in a private room, which was nice and spacious, with a view of the busy street and a small balcony. The room is stocked with towels, toiletries, and slippers. Those staying at the dormitory need to bring their own towels and dormitories. In Vietnam, you get everything on rent. The first time I heard a traveler asking for a towel on rent I found it rather funny.
There is a small café next door, An’s, which provides the complimentary breakfast. The choices are basic – we had omelets, pancake, and coffee. We had a few tours booked in Hanoi and used our room as a base. It was nice to come back for freshening up. We always saw smiling faces and interesting characters hanging out in the reception area.
A Personal Touch Makes all the Difference
On our check out, I presented a small art on a postcard to Snowy and she gave us some rare low denomination currency notes. She was in touch with us through the rest of our trip on Whatsapp, and always felt like a friendly ghost watching over us!