When you mention the word "backpackers lodge" to anybody, most people would probably associate it with "dorms where youngsters from all over the world travelling with backpacks would sleep". If that was your answer as well you would partly be right. But only partly as you could also be totally wrong. Let me tell you why. Firstly, although most people staying in backpackers lodgers are youngsters, there are also more mature people backpacking these days. Secondly, backpackers lodges are so much more than just dorms these days. Most also offer double rooms with en-suit bathrooms just like any guesthouse. Thirdly, although most of the backpackers lodges' business still consist of international travellers, a lot of business also come from South Africans travelling for leisure, business or events. And lastly, not all people staying at backpackers lodgers have backpacks. I for one didn't have a backpack and neither did the people who's suitcases stood by the front door waiting for a taxi to take them to the airport.
Getting to the point of the post. I recently got to participate in a bloggers' weekend in Cape Town to, amongst other, learn more about accommodation star grading in South Africa. Each of the three bloggers got to stay in a different four star establishment and while my fellow bloggers got a hotel and guest house respectively, I was told that I was staying at a backpackers lodge. I've only stayed in a backpackers once before and it was a very basic one at that so I suddenly had flashes of sharing a dorm with strangers in a little wooden shack somewhere. Suddenly I wasn't too sure if I was still looking forward to the trip anymore. While doing site inspections at the other two establishments, I kept chirping the other two about how I'm going to come and knock on their door that evening looking for a place to crash. That was until we got to Atlantic Point Backpackers in Green Point. The question on everybody's lips were, "This is a backpackers?"
Atlantic Point was everything I didn't imagine it would be. The dorms were spacious and neat with individual lockup areas for each guest while the public areas were beautifully furnished and laid out. Emphasis is on fun and practicality, making visitors feel comfortable and at home. The cherry on the cake was the fact that I didn't have to share one of the dorms with the happy-go-lucky bunch enjoying themselves in the lounge, but was rather showed to a stunning double room with its own en-suit bathroom. Yes I know it would have been great to interact more with the young lot but I'm past that part of my life and enjoy a bit of privacy.
Breakfast is a typical backpacker lodge one of cereal, toast, egg, fruit and coffee where you help yourself and make sure your own dishes get cleaned. Planning your day (if I had to plan my day but luckily that was all planned for me by the TGCSA guys) is made easy by the fact that the lodge staff are very knowledgeable and will make the necessary recommendations and bookings for those wanting to go on an excursion. Brochures are available for attractions and tours around town, recommended backpackers lodges to use while travelling through South Africa and directions and info for all the surrounding restaurants and pubs. Everything you need is catered for.
I even tried out their mini golf green a couple of times as it was on the way to my room.
Did my perception of backpackers lodges change during this trip? It sure did and even though I won't stay at one while travelling with my family, I would definitively consider staying at one like this when on my own.