$ 45 a night: I stayed at the capsule hostel in Singapore

The author in the capsule.
Marielle Descalsota / Insider

I stayed one night at Galaxy Pods in Chinatown, a capsule hostel in Singapore’s backpacker district.

A double bed, which is actually only designed for one person, costs US $ 45 per night.

The hostel let it down with the claustrophobic little pods, dirty bathrooms and unfriendly atmosphere. Only the bistro stood out.

Chinatown is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Singapore.

Singapore Chinatown.

Singapore Chinatown.
Marielle Descalsota / Insider

The historic district is one of the liveliest areas in Singapore. The streets are lined with sights, bars and restaurants. Chinese immigrants lived here in the 19th century. Today it is a multicultural place where mosques and temples sit side by side on a street.

Chinatown is also popular with backpackers. Mosque Street is home to some of the most popular hostels in the city-state.

Street mosque in Chinatown.

Street mosque in Chinatown.
Marielle Descalsota / Insider

As Singapore is considered the second most expensive city in the world, many backpackers choose budget hotels and hostels. Many of these hostels are housed in commercial premises. The Chinatown Mosque, where most of the shelters are lined up, is within walking distance of attractions such as the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. It’s also easily accessible – Chinatown MRT station is just a five-minute walk away.

Galaxy Pods in Chinatown is a capsule hostel on Mosque Street that stands out for its design. It stands out from the rest of the hostels with its blue and yellow color scheme.

Galaxy pods in Chinatown.

Galaxy pods in Chinatown.
Marielle Descalsota / Insider

I’ve always wanted to backpack, but until now the pandemic has gotten in the way. The Galaxy Pods seemed like the perfect place to fulfill my dream of backpacking for one night. Especially the beautiful photos I found online piqued my interest. As the name suggests, the hostel is all about space.

I booked a double pod for S $ 60 (US $ 45) and headed to Mosque Street on a Friday in early March. The owner of the hostel did not return my calls when I tried to contact him for comment. Insider paid for my stay, as is customary with our reporting trips.

Right in front of the hostel I found a rainbow flag and lots of electric cars.

Rainbow flag in front of the hostel.

Rainbow flag in front of the hostel.
Marielle Descalsota / Insider

The hostel’s bistro, Galaxy 28, is known for supporting and welcoming the local LGBTQ community. “We don’t discriminate against anyone: whether you are straight, gay, transgender, lesbian, bi or anything in between, everyone is welcome,” says the bistro’s website.

After collecting my card, I went up the stairs to the hostel. My first impression was disappointing: a putrid stench filled my nostrils.

Marielle Descalsota / Insider

The carpet looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in years. The interior, with its dim lighting and tall wooden doors, was not inviting. Hardly any natural light entered the building, except for the toilets, where there were windows. I had to climb three flights of stairs before reaching the living area where my pod was located.

The dormitory housed a dozen pods. They looked more like large washing machines than spaceships.

The dorm is reminiscent of a car wash.

The dorm is reminiscent of a car wash.
Marielle Descalsota / Insider

The room was crowded: towels, shoes, toiletries, and other personal items piled on the sides of the capsules. Odors, sometimes more, sometimes less pleasant, filled the room, which was barely aired. Despite seemingly low cleanliness standards, the hostel claims to use technology to contain viruses and bacteria. “Our hostel is equipped with UVC lamps in all common areas, a new technology that can kill viruses and bacteria in the air to improve the protection of our guests,” wrote the hostel on Facebook. Eventually I took off my shoes and settled down to explore my room for the night.

The sleeping cabin was tiny. I’m only 1.70m tall and I’m fine with it.

The author in the capsule.

The author in the capsule.
Marielle Descalsota / Insider

Inside the capsule, a thick layer of dust covered the sheets. Every time I turned I could hear the metal clink of the capsule. This meant that everyone in the room could hear my every move, just as I could hear everyone else’s.

The pod arrived with the basics: a duvet, towels, pillows, a TV that didn’t turn on, and a mirror.

This is what a capsule looks like from the inside.

This is what a capsule looks like from the inside.
Marielle Descalsota / Insider

Since the spacecraft is made of metal, it was extremely poorly ventilated. The fan behind the mirror was not in good condition. I always left part of the capsule door open to allow fresh air from the central air conditioning to pass through. This also alleviated my claustrophobia. But ever since I left the door open, I could smell and hear every time someone opened a packet of pork char siu with rice for dinner, and I could hear every single speech of the patrons. Aside from that, the mattress was surprisingly comfortable – I slept better than I had in a long time.

The atmosphere in the hostel wasn’t exactly welcoming. Sometimes I felt like an intruder. Some guests had piles of things tucked into the corners of the room.

The dorm was untidy.

The dorm was untidy.
Marielle Descalsota / Insider

A guest told me to avoid it before it disappeared into the night. Given the amount of stuff packed into her capsule, it looked like she’d already spent more than a few days in the hostel. Another guest had set a table in her pod. I took a look and saw that he was fully stocked with medicine, stationery and other items. It felt like some of the guests weren’t just there for an overnight stay. The hostel informed me that the monthly rent was 780 Singapore dollars for a single bed and 1,650 Singapore dollars for a double bed.

The shared bathroom was outdoors so it was better ventilated than the dorm.

The hostel bathroom.

The hostel bathroom.
Marielle Descalsota / Insider

The hostel had bathrooms spread over two floors and I never had to wait or fight anyone for a shower.

However, the bathroom was quite dirty with dirt on the floor, walls and toilet. Luckily there was a water heater.

The bathroom itself was very dirty.

The bathroom itself was very dirty.
Marielle Descalsota / Insider

I’m not picky about bathrooms, but this one appeared to have been used by dozens of people without being cleaned in between. Some bathrooms had brand name shampoos and shower gels, which made me feel like I was invading someone else’s house again. All in all, I wanted to spend as little time as possible here and shower faster than I’ve ever done in my life.

When I got back from a walk around 2am, the bistro was full.

The Galaxy 28 bistro.

The Galaxy 28 bistro.
Marielle Descalsota / Insider

People chatted merrily in the bistro, which was furnished entirely in space style. Fluorescent lights illuminated the otherwise dark room. Some appeared to be fresh from work, dressed in formal clothes and carrying backpacks. Since Singapore banned the sale of alcoholic beverages after 10.30pm, what appeared to be tea was served in the bistro. At almost every table there was a teapot that was shared between friends.

Conclusion: I would stay in a hostel again, but not this one.

Walk at 2 am

Walk at 2 am
Marielle Descalsota / Insider

If you’re in Singapore, Chinatown is definitely worth a visit, as is Bistro Galaxy 28. The city-state has had little nightlife since the start of the pandemic, but Mosque Street was still bustling after dark. However, due to the lack of cleanliness of the toilets and the hostile atmosphere in the hostel, I cannot recommend the Galaxy Pods.

This article was created by Lara Hansen translated from English. You can find the original here.

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