Booking accommodation two days before arrival is always a bit of a gamble. It’s even more a gamble in August, the ultimate tourist high season in France. Add in a limited budget to the short notice and a single supplement—I was fully mentally preparing myself to overpay for a break from Nice.
However, I was beyond pleasantly surprised when I discovered that Vertigo Vieux-Port, the second highest rated hostel on HostelBookers had space available on the nights requested. With a 90% overall rating, with particularly high marks for cleanliness and location, I was sold. And when I saw the price, I was (happily) shocked. 26 Euros a night for a spot in a female triple is tough to beat.
Vertigo Vieux-Port is about a 20-minute walk from Gare St. Charles, the main train station in Marseille. My Google Maps directions took me winding through side streets, which I would have been annoyed about if it hadn’t introduced me to Rue Longue-des-Capucins and all its culinary wonders.
Located in the Vieux Port neighborhood, you’re just minutes from all the major tourist attractions but the street that the hostel is tucked away on doesn’t feel touristy at all. Tucked away next to a graffiti-stained wall and a hookah bar, it’s easy to walk past without thinking twice. It’s also just a five-minute walk from the nearest metro stop and an even shorter walk to the nearest bus stop. The neighborhood is quiet, and while it felt safe enough during the day and just after nightfall, it wasn’t one I’d be exploring on my own at night.
The hostel itself is spotless and well-designed, with plenty of character. I loved the loft over check-in, with plenty of comfy couches and unlimited Wifi access. There’s a fully-equipped kitchen with a few tables scattered about next to the loft, that offers plenty of space to socialize. While the kitchen is available for your own cooking, a breakfast of cereal, juice, baguettes and Nutella is complimentary in the morning. My advice is to come early: by the end of the morning, the good cereal is gone and the orange juice jug is empty. Either way, it’s the closest thing to a proper complimentary breakfast that I’ve seen so far in Europe.
I stayed in a triple without being charged a single supplement, which is awesome enough in itself. We had a private bathroom—with another attached showerhead!—that was absolutely spotless. The beds were located upstairs from the bathroom, in a beautiful room with exposed wood beams and a skylight. Furniture was simple, but the bed was comfortable enough.
Staff is friendly and helpful, although their English is often better than their French (with the exception of the French manager).
With two-, four- and six-person rooms, the Vertigo Vieux Port would be perfect for couples or families traveling on a budget, although the general population was mostly young-ish backpackers. I would stay here again in a heartbeat—and I wish that every hostel was as well thought out and well-maintained as Vertigo Vieux Port.