Arts Factory Lodge Review
Our East Coast trip is officially underway and we are now in Byron Bay (as of April 2019). Because we’re on an extremely limited budget for this trip we picked the cheapest private room we could find and that leads us to this Arts Factory Lodge review.
The long and short of it is that we would not recommend staying here. For an in-depth review of the Arts Factory Lodge continue reading!
It’s worth noting too that we looked at all the positive reviews of the Arts Factory Lodge on places like TripAdvisor and HostelWorld and they are really good – the reason these are so good is because when you check in they tell you that if you leave a review online and then show the reception they will enter you into a raffle to win another room. In my case this was an upgraded room, from one of the “Cube” private rooms, to one of the fancier private rooms. Another reviewer I saw was allegedly offered a chance to win a room in a local hotel.
The vibe at the Arts Factory Lodge is quite chill, with not a huge party atmosphere of people from big cities looking to party hard. Those people headed off the Greyhound and got into the WakeUp! Shuttle bus that was waiting for them.
The main clients of the Arts Lodge Factory are bohemian and hippy types (which Byron is well known for as it’s a really chill place). Lots of people with braided hair, flowing khaki skirts, ankle bracelets and walking into town barefoot.
Some of the activities at the hostel include yoga, meditation and crystal therapy so if you’re into these types of activities it may be the place for you.
If you’re uncomfortable around drugs I would probably recommend not staying here, despite there being No Smoking signs around people were lighting up suspiciously smelling cigarettes and probably harder stuff as you will see in the Bedroom section.
On first glance the Arts Factory Lodge has some great facilities – free WiFi, a large kitchen, large shared bathroom facilities, a range of bunk rooms, onsite parking, camping etc. The reality though is this place needs a massive renovation.
The first place we visited after arriving was the kitchen as after our 6 hour coach journey and being up since 1am we really wanted to make ourselves a coffee. Every hostel I’ve stayed at before has always had facilities to make yourself a brew and on first glance so did this one – a kettle and water…but no mugs.
We then noticed a sign that says if you want a mug you have to hire one for $5. That’s right, a mug, which you can get in KMart for 75c you needed to hire for $5…each.
Side note: This leads to people making cups of tea and coffee in bowls instead so there are barely any bowls to use.
Luckily we had a travel mug so we could make ourselves a coffee in this and share it. We then eventually checked into our private Cube room and this luckily did have mugs in it, but if you’re in a dorm you’re screwed.
Our first impression of the cleanliness of the kitchen was pretty positive as it is clearly cleaned before opening in the morning but by the end of the day the kitchen is a disgusting mess. People do not clean up after themselves in terms of wiping up spills etc. Pots were left dirty and pans with burnt egg in them. There are no tea towels to be seen so the people who DO wash their pots have to leave them piled up which makes a large, precarious, tower of crockery which could come crashing down at any second.
Another thing to note is that there is no oven in sight in the kitchen so if you’re looking to make a quick and easy meal, for example pizza, after a long bus journey you’re out of luck.
There is also no indoor dining facilities, the food you make in the kitchen you have to sit outside with the mosquitoes to eat which if you keep on reading is a massive problem here at the Arts Factory Lodge.
The bathroom facilities are passable, there is enough of them that if someone has peed all over the seat you will find a clean one a few stalls over but they also really need a bit of TLC (a common theme here). In the bathroom there is a huge mirror which is filthy and hadn’t been cleaned during my visit, the showers ran cold when being used at around 4pm.
After a hot day in the sun this wasn’t a massive issue but it was on the cooler rainy day we had. If you want a shower get there first thing in the morning.
During my stay a shower cubicle in the upstairs bathroom overflowed and flooded the main area of the bathroom which was kind of gross.
The bedroom we stayed in was labelled as a “Cube Room” and was very reasonably priced for a private room in a hostel. It came with two mugs which as mentioned earlier were a hot commodity around the hostel so this added at least an extra $10 value onto the private room! Alongside the mugs was a kettle and a slightly worse for wear fridge but considering how bad the fridges in the kitchen were then this was a welcome addition despite its grottiness.
The bed was relatively comfy and the bedding felt clean. We even had towels provided but that is common for private rooms and to be expected.
There was a safe in the room which we didn’t use so not sure if there was a charge to use this or not but what we DID find stashed down the side of the safe was an empty zip lock bag coated in a suspicious white powder. I swiftly put this in the bin and washed my hands.
The Cube room we stayed in didn’t seem very weather tight either, with a large gap underneath the door which even though they provided a draft excluder didn’t cover the gap due to the door stop blocking it from lying flush with the ground. Above the door was a gap where you’d expect to have a window but it was just a bug screen so the sounds of people partying were very audible inside the room (as was the torrential rain). Above the front wall where the door was situated was also a large gap between the top of the wall and the ceiling. This made for a breezy night sleep with a constant awareness of bugs needed.
Also worth noting if you’re a fellow blogger or Netflix watcher like myself is that the WiFi doesn’t reach the room. Our room was quite close to reception where the router was but neither the free or paid-for WiFi reached the room with a reliable connection. The WiFi in general is awful, even the paid for “premium” WiFi which was $4 for 24 hours access didn’t work in the common area.
My final complaint about the room is that the curtain was covered in damp, this was something I noticed about the curtains in the dorm rooms too as I saw it through a dorm window.
The main common area is a very musty smelling area with the aesthetics of an abandoned bar which, again, needs a lot of work doing to it. There is a small book selection, some table games such as pool and a few booth style seating areas. There are small sofas round the edges of the common area which filled up very quickly we people lying on them with their feet up.
There’s not a huge amount to say about this as I didn’t spent a good amount of time there due to the smell and uncleanliness of the area.
There is a cafe at the hostel which has reasonably priced coffee (around $3.50 for a caffeine hit) and offers breakfast and other food. We didn’t eat here so can’t comment on the quality but judging by the uncleanliness of the rest of the hostel I’m not 100% sure I would be comfortable doing so.
The location of the hostel is around a 15-20 walk from the main Greyhound stop in town, they do however run a free shuttle to and from the hostel which is a nice gesture. The bus driver is a friendly guy playing some chill music and is very easy going so can’t fault the shuttle at all. Even the walk back from town isn’t too much of a problem but the biggest problem with the location is it’s next to a swamp.
The Arts Factory Lodge is located next to the Cumbebin Swamp Nature reserve which we didn’t see or consider when booking our two night stay here but you really need to be aware of this as the swamp location brings bugs. Lots and lots of bugs. Bugs that bite.
For some reason I am a bug attracting machine, and I really react to the bites of mosquitoes so this had become a living nightmare for me. One flew in my t-shirt and ate me alive, a few got in my hair. It was a disaster. On the tables outside the kitchen, they’d just land and die which meant you were eating your dinner surrounded by dead mosquitoes. Yummy.
But honestly, I can’t stress enough, if you’re even slightly annoyed by bugs DO NOT STAY HERE. Save yourself the pain and pay the extra to stay in town.
If you’re a couple looking for a one night private room in Byron as a stop off before heading up to the Gold Coast or Brisbane I would recommend the Arts Factory Lodge due to the cheapness of a private room compared to those in town but if you were planning on staying in a dorm or somewhere for longer I would pay the extra and stay in the town centre so you are closer to the beaches, coffee shops and bars.
I do feel it is quite underhanded of them to “bribe” people to leave reviews for them for the chance of winning a better experience as this paints an unrealistic picture – I hope this review which is backed up by photographs aids you in your decision to stay somewhere a little more comfortable. If you’re less bothered by things like those mentioned above I am sure you would have a good time at the Arts Factory Lodge but if you’re anything at all like me I wouldn’t recommend this particular hostel in Byron Bay.