Sheila's Hostel Cork

Sheila’s Hostel Cork Review

Sheila's Hostel

Cork is a fabulous city with plenty of entertainment on offer, so there’s a lot to be said for staying somewhere peaceful. Sheila’s Hostel offers a quiet atmosphere at a budget price.

Thigh-toning location

Sheila’s is situated just above MacCurtain Street with its wealth of pubs, restaurants and cafes. It’s less than 10 minutes to walk from the bus or train station and the city centre, but be warned, it’s a steep finish. It’s only a hundred metres or so to negotiate, but when weighed down with a backpack, your legs will definitely be noticing that this hostel is on a hill. This makes for fabulous views of the city from the front rooms, but some gasping when returning from a late night session.

Rest in peace

The hostel building used to be a girls’ school and there is still an institutional feel with the long corridors behind the stern facade. This is a 188 bed hostel and the kitchen is set up for bulk cooking with a line of gas burners and trestle tables that reminded me of school camp. Practical and well stocked with utensils for DIY feeding, but evoking a vague fear that whistles could be blown and orders given to line up in pairs.

This is not a bad thing if you’re looking for a hostel with peace and quiet. With guests unconsciously regressing to the authority of the schoolyard you get better behaviour. There’s no curfew, but after the witching hour you have to be let in by the night staff which also makes you want to disguise your drunken state and tiptoe to bed. All works for a good night’s sleep.

Sleeping tight

Sheila's Hostel

Rack ‘em, stack ‘em and pack ‘em is what the bedrooms are all about. Why anyone would want to swing a cat is beyond me, but you won’t be doing it here.

About half the rooms have an ensuite bathroom and there are plenty of showers and toilets for share use, so you won’t have to queue in the morning regardless. The view from the front rooms more than compensates for the lack of an ensuite so try to snag a bed in one of these.

Dorms range from 4 beds to 14, private rooms are also available.

Common ground

The hands-on owners, Liam and Kay Maher (Sheila is Liam’s mother), appreciate that their guests aren’t going to want to hang out in cellblock dorms so they’ve created plenty of communal space.

There’s a large space downstairs with comfy couches for slothing or tables and chairs if you want to play one of the board games. Wi-Fi is available and there are computers for internet use as well as a selection of books. There are more tables and chairs outside the kitchen complete with television for anti-social diners.

Reception is open 24 hours so you won’t be stuck for snacks and drinks if that game of Monopoly becomes an epic battle for capitalist domination.

The staff are friendly and helpful and can provide plenty of information about Cork. Talk to Paddy if you’re a Rory Gallagher fan and want to pay tribute to Ireland’s first (and arguably greatest) rock star. If you’re not a Rory Gallagher fan then don’t mention this to a Corkonian.

Smokers, or sun-lovers who are visiting the wrong country, aren’t forgotten with a terrace at the back of the building. Plenty of seats and room but no cover so chances are the Irish weather will limit your time outdoors.

Unusual touches

Sheila's Hostel Kitchen

If you’ve been oversampling the delights of Cork and need to sweat out some toxins you’ll be delighted to find that Sheila’s has a sauna. There’s a small fee for use and you won’t be getting more than two very close friends in there but it’s a nice extra.

Even better is the free cinema. Reminiscent of an 80’s nightclub, with black walls and bead lighting, there’s beanbags and cushions to sprawl in whilst you watch one of hundred or so movies on offer. Great idea for those who need some time out.

Where are the taps in Cork?

Sheila's Hostel Outside

Liam says that installing the push-button showers has reduced water consumption by 40%. Of course, this is a good thing, but I suspect it’s not just that they use less water but also that guests wash less often because push-button showers are so annoying. Worrying when the beds are in such close proximity.

Sheila's Hostel Sign

The lights in the communal shower cubicles are also on a timer. It took me quite a while to get the temperature warm enough to venture into the shower and then the light went out whilst I was still lathering. To get the light back on I had to open the door to trigger it. This could have meant a nasty surprise for some fellow traveller who innocently entered the bathroom only to be flashed by a naked, cursing woman.

Decent value

Although Sheila’s is at the higher end of costs for a hostel bed in Cork, the internet use, luggage storage and breakfast are not included in the price. The fees are small but when you’re on a tight budget every euro counts.

Despite its size, this hostel still gets booked out at weekends and festivals – and Cork loves festivals. Best to book ahead but still worth trying if you have just arrived in the city and doing potluck bed.