“When you are lost in the world, travel! You will find a place and there your soul will be.”
As I made my way through the rowdy labyrinth that is Hanoi’s Old Quarter, escape from the constant barrage of noise felt futile. Then, I turned onto Ngõ Huyện Street and the commotion vanished. Save for a glass door scribbled with doodles, See You At Lily’s (16 Ngõ Huyện Street, Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam) does little to draw attention to the average bypasser. But that’s what makes this young and budding hostel the haven to backpackers that it is. What began as a hotel quickly morphed into a hostel and now has been operating as a backpacker’s retreat for 14 consecutive months, welcoming guests with a chill, friendly, and bohemian atmosphere.
Just a heads up: This is not a party hostel. This is a budget travel hostel that promises tranquility and comfort and is open to all ages. From exceptional travel assistance (in affiliation with the pre-existing ‘Lily’s Travel Agency‘) to an even more exceptional staff who are on-duty 24/7, chances are you won’t find anything that makes you feel more at home than ‘See You At Lily’s.’
- Free breakfast a la carte for all guests
- Towels and security lockers available upon request (dorms only)
- Toiletries in all private rooms — Dorm room guests, bring your own soap/shampoo/conditioner!
- Towels and complimentary tea/coffee/water in all private rooms
- Wheelchair friendly (there is an elevator)
- Laundry: 23,000 VND per kg and will only be weighed AFTER it’s been washed
- Tours/Travel Services: Offering help to places such as Halong Bay, Sapa, Ninh Binh, Mai Chau, Ha Giang. You can also book train, bus, and flight tickets directly at reception. Also will arrange motorbike rentals.
The five-floor property at max can host a total of 46 people. The types of rooms available are:
-  Eight-bed mixed dorms,
-  Six-bed female dorm
-  Double balcony rooms
-  Family rooms (with one double and a twin)
-  Twin room
-  double bedroom (can sleep four people)
The private rooms come with a private bathroom fully stocked with towels and toiletries such toothbrushes and combs. Dorm room guests are advised to bring toiletries such as soap/shampoo/conditioner. All dorms have a shared bathroom. There are also shoe shelves, bag racks, lockers for a valuables (you must put a deposit on the key,) and every bunk is equipped with personal outlets in each dormitory.
Availability: Walk-ins are accepted but it varies depending on season. As it grows in popularity, rooms are quicker to get booked so act fast!
NOTE FOR FAMILIES TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN
While it is welcome to all ages, See You At Lily’s is more of a backpacker haunt. A general rule is that children are not accepted in dormitories because a) it wouldn’t be fair to the children and b) to the other guests. Luckily, there are family rooms! Please email the hostel in advance if you are bringing children. No guests under the age of 16 are allowed in the hostel without a guardian.
A DEN OF CREATIVITY
Looking for clinical white walls? You won’t find it here. Almost every wall is decorated in the handiwork of artists from all over the world, with some left bare only because the right artist has yet to come along. The kitchen walls are painted black and scribbled from ceiling to floor with inspiring quotes like the one that began this post. With a soft spot for creative types, See You At Lily’s team is deeply proud of their fair trade relationships with creatives. Upon entry, you’ll be greeted by a common room lined with beanbags and amorphous sofas draped in tapestries. The walls are vibrant and fun and full of good energy. I immediately LOVED the common area because of the technicolor lion artwork (GO LEOS!) If you are curious about what the art means, ask hostel cofounder Stu to give you an art tour. He knows the backstory and artist of EVERY mural.
Breakfast comes included with every room and is served from 7:15 to 9:15 a.m. every day. You may order one item off the menu, which features a select number of predominantly Western-style offerings. Choose between tea, water, or coffee to get your morning started. The menu is constantly rotated depending on seasonal availability of ingredients. The kitchen closes for the rest of the day and is off-limit to guests unless you need a drink. But there is always fruit lying around and at the disposal of any hungry guest.
Cofounded by friends Stu, Rezma, and Lily, the trio of entrepreneurs owe their success to their complete, well-rounded approach to running a business. When the hostel was first founded, Rezma managed marketing while Stu focused on the business side of organizing rooms and running the booking systems. Lily, a travel agent by trade, handled all Vietnamese-related affairs. Just recently, another Vietnamese team member by the name of Van has come aboard in the abcense of Rezma who has left Hanoi for her homeland of Great Britain. Thank you to Willful and Wildhearted for the profile picture of the founders.
We were able to speak with one of the founders, Stu, who first came to Hanoi four years ago to teach English. He left after a five month stint only to be called back to Hanoi four years later as he yearned for a home he once knew. He’s been here for the past twenty months ensuring that the operations smoothly. You can see him almost everyday at the reception, mapping out a plan-of-attack for those interested in the allures of Halong Bay.
AN INTERVIEW WITH STU, COFOUNDER OF “SEE YOU AT LILY’S”
How did you come up with the name ‘See You At Lily’s?
In our pursuit to trying to be different, we didn’t want just a run-of-the-mill name, (i.e. Lily’s Hostel, Stu’s Hostel). Because Lily’s Travel is well-known in Hanoi already, we piggybacked off of its success. Online, it’s nice to be able to write ‘See You at Lily’s’ on everything. We actually have quite a lot of guests who choose it purely because their name is Lily, which is really sweet. We had a Canadian couple who came with a young daughter named Lily and all she wanted to do was meet Lily. (awwwwww!)
Your favorite thing about Lily’s? The thing that sets us apart most is our staff. I just love the people I work with.
Is there a tour that you recommend? Every traveler should to Sapa or Halong Bay. It all depends on the person’s interest, for example, would you like to be on a boat and have things already mapped for you to do or would you like to be out trekking? All of our tours are customized to each guest, reflecting a working partnership between the staff and the guest. It’s about sitting down and really taking time to find out the person’s needs.
Favorite mural? An Indonesian girl named Cherry created a mural of a hummingbird with a gold background and incorporated our name into the painting.
Favorite quote on the graffiti wall? “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” Half of them I don’t know because they’re in different languages but it’s great when people come in and translate it for us.
Things you’re looking forward to in the upcoming year? We can’t wait for more artists to come fill in the blank walls. I’m also looking to do an online photo competition. We’ll be asking individuals to submit a collection of three photos (doesn’t have to be Vietnam necessarily) and the top three of the collections will be hung up in the rooms. The winners will each receive a free night stay that they can use when rolling through Hanoi or donate to a friend. We just want different perspectives of the world. Hopefully, the competition produces some great photography. We’re also looking to organize a fundraiser for a local charity sometime this spring.
Things to do in Hanoi? Visit Bia Hoi Corner and and eat Pho Ga, chicken pho. It’s really good.
Check-In: 2 PM/Check-out: 12 PM (you may email them for an early check-in). Two days notice in advance for free cancellation. Credit card/cash payment accepted upon arrival.
Private rooms starting from $21 per night. Dormitories starting at $5 per night. BOOK HERE.
DISCLAIMER: My stay was courtesy of See You At Lily’s. As always, all opinions and photos are my own, unless otherwise stated.
Give me a shout-out on Pinterest pretty please?