I met Pete (on the very right in the picture below) who works at Greg&Tom Hostel in Krakow, Poland at the 2010 Hoscars. Ranked the #8 hostel in the world, Pete took a few minutes to answer a few questions about the Greg&Tom Hostel, their Hoscar ranking, and about Krakow itself.
Tell us a little about what makes Greg&Tom the best rated in Poland (and 8th internationally)?
It’s not like we’ve been the best from the start. Greg&Tom opened almost 6 years ago, at it has changed a lot since then; but the basic principle has been always the same: no border between the guest and the receptionist. Of course staff is there to work, but we also talk together, eat together, play together, go out together, we have fun together…we do everything together with our guests 🙂
Everything to make them feel not like their staying at the hostel, but a friend’s home. How we manage to do that? We’re small hostel, so we can accommodate only 29 people at the same time, and yet there’s 10 people working here. Most of the time we know our guests by first name, and we call each other by first name. The other important rule is accepting only groups smaller than 6 people. In a small place like ours, big group would just take over the place and it’d be hard for small groups or single backpackers to fit in. We couldn’t let that happen. Thanks to these simple principles, we created unique family atmosphere so that everyone can feel like home away from home.
How did Greg&Tom hostel start?
Greg&Tom started back in 2004, same year when Poland entered the EU. All of a sudden, there’s been more and more individual tourists and budget travelers, and they needed cheap accommodation, but there were only few hostels. That’s when Greg&Tom decided to rent an apartment and turn it into a hostel. They started out with only 10 beds, but business was doing well so they expanded to 29 over 3 years course.
But they didn’t stop there – they opened two more locations, Greg&Tom the 2nd and Greg&Tom Luxury Apartment for more demanding guests. To keep up with rising popularity and expectations, Greg&Tom invested a lot of time and effort to keep improving the hostel: better equipment, better breakfast, better events, better hostel. And here we are.
What types of travelers typically stay at Greg&Tom?
As I mentioned, we don’t accept groups bigger then 6 people, so majority of our guests are small groups of 3, 4 or single backpackers. They all come from all around the world, but a vast is from English-speaking areas: Australia, UK & Ireland, North America. But in last few years we’ve seen more and more travelers from Asia, especially China, Japan, Korea & Latin America – Brazil, Argentina, Mexico. It’s all-colorful, a mish-mash of different people, different cultures, different languages and only one goal – to enjoy traveling to the fullest.
Is your staff mostly made up of locals, travelers, or a mix?
All the staff members are Polish, but coming from different parts of the country we present mix of different personality types, skills and interests 🙂
For travelers coming to Europe, why should they add Krakow to their list of cities to visit?
Why shouldn’t they? 🙂 Poland is a country on the edge of west and east, southern and northern Europe. Centrally located, Krakow has always been the city where many paths cross and where many people meet. As an old capitol, it’s filled with the history of Polish kings, merchants from all around the world, artists of many generations, and creatures from legends. It’s also one of the very few historical cities practically unharmed during the World War II – that means that all the buildings people can see in the city have been there for centuries, witnessing passage of almost a whole millennium of Krakow’s history.
To be more pragmatic, Krakow is still much cheaper and less commercialized than major Western European tourist spots. Good connections to UK/Ireland by plane and Prague, Berlin, Budapest, Bratislava by train/bus is also a big plus.
Last thing I should mention is unbelievable atmosphere. Even though the city is very old, thanks to hundreds of thousands student living here, its spirit is very young and refreshing. Many good local spots to hang out in, things to do both day and night, lot’s of people to meet – that’s Krakow.
What are the best way for travelers to connect with Greg&Tom Hostel online?
We’re aware that in today’s on-line society, we need to stay in touch with both travelers that stayed in our hostel and those who are yet to come to Krakow. That’s why we launched on MySpace, Facebook and Twitter – to keep all our guests and fans updated on what’s happening in the hostel and in the city. Last-minute travelers are able too book our hostel with only few hours advance through portals like HostelWorld or HostelBookers. Other than that, our homepage has been operational for years, all the necessary info is available 24/7, so we’re fully connected at all times.
Thanks again Pete for the interview. You can catch up with Greg&Tom on their homepage GregTomHostel.com, see more pictures from the hostel on Facebook, and enjoy a warm Polish dinner by staying on a Tuesday or Saturday night.