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“Get in touch with your inner hippie”

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The Arts Factory Backpackers Lodge
Reviewed November 9, 2013 via mobile

Lonely Planet refers to the Arts Factory as "an archetypal Byron experience" and they're spot on. The thing with Byron is that you're either going to love it or hate it.

My favourite things about the hostel are the events that occur during the day and my favourite had to be watching and listening to the African drumming sessions (which you can join if you so wish). Relax in the shade of one of the plentiful trees on the wonderful site, and you can easily wile away over an hour relaxing with the beat of the drum session.

There seem to be plenty of events on offer and there's a lady on site who does massage and readings. The staff here are friendly, the general ambience is chilled and the hostel reflects the very best of Byron.

Plenty of accommodation on offer - I stayed in one of the teepees (because you have to, right?) which was a great experience. Word of warning though - the teepee gets freezing cold at night so pick up a blanket from reception. The other types of accommodation I saw seemed equally clean and tidy, as were the showers.

Byron Bay itself reminds me of a very small San Francisco. It prides itself on its hippie past and the ideals of love and freedom, but it just can't live up to them. I think this is mainly due to the fact that with hippies come drugs, with drugs come drug dealers, and with them comes trouble. At any time in town you may come across characters that range from 'colourful' to downright disturbing.

Sadly the atmosphere at the hostel can also reflect that at Byron, beneath the appearance of freedom and peace, there lies something darker, uglier. In just 4 nights stay I witnessed drug taking and mental illness (a guy was taken away 'for his own protection') which was likely to have been caused by long-term exposure to the former.

The hostel, like Byron, can't seem to be able to live up to its own ideals, with signs everywhere saying "no drugs" and " no noise after 11pm". My first night there was a full on argument between some guys going on until 4am.

The only other negative thing to mention is the bus pick-up. It seems to be a bit of a work of fiction. I booked over the phone and was told there was going to be a pick up at a certain time. There wasn't so I had to walk to the hostel. No big issue as it's just a 10-15 minute walk.

I thought it was just my bad luck, but met some backpackers later that day who were doing the same walk. Met up with a friend who lives in Byron and he told me that the hostel were well known for leaving their guests stranded. There is supposed to be a shuttle every 5/10 minutes to and from the hostel between 10pm and 4am. Testing out the theory, I turned up at the stop in town at 10.25pm and waited...for 30 minutes. No bus. Walked back in the dark for 15 minutes and did not pass the bus.

I did however manage to get the shuttle a couple of times from the hostel during the day (times are posted near reception) so that's a better bet than getting one from town on the return journey.

So should you come to Byron and stay at the Arts Factory? In a word, yes. Come for a night or two, enjoy the daytime ambience and there's a great pub attached to the hostel too. But then get out of town and be happy you managed to leave unscathed.

Stayed: November 2013, traveled solo
1  Thank Lee H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
artsfactory_13, Manager at The Arts Factory Backpackers Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded December 17, 2013

Thanks for your every extensive review Lee! You do indeed have to get in touch with your inner hippy. I am sorry to hear you had to be a part of someone being taken into care, it was for this person's own safety, and I am sorry to say this person suffers from a mental illness - not drugs. We did follow through and made sure this guest was returned to the safety of his family home. I will say we do not condone drugs and use of illegal substances is not permitted. I am glad to hear you made the most of what we have to offer. Happy travels!

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449 - 455 of 621 reviews

Reviewed November 6, 2013 via mobile

So you will either love it or hate it here. Settled in bushland the arts factory is known for it's hippy vibe. Firstly we stayed in our van which was reasonable for price. Kitchen was ok during the day but night time was a mess, some nights we saw it being cleaned but other times noone. Cafe on site but fairly expensive. A lot of places to chill and relax. Free bus into town and the budha bar next door is awesome. A lot of long termers from the campsite who stick to themselves with exception of a few who were lovely and welcoming. Talent show brilliant and cockatoo Paul the resident entertainer and bushman is brilliant. We went on his bushtucker walk which is a must do, he really knows his stuff and go check his music show out at the bar. Overall it was ok but now ive been there I probably won't go back.

  • Stayed: August 2013
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Thank thebeerlover
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
artsfactory_13, Manager at The Arts Factory Backpackers Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded December 17, 2013

Thank you for your review beer lover! The kitchen is hard to manage and when we are getting slammed at reception it can be hard to keep an eye on things up there. The café does have budget meals for $7.00, and other selections as well that are more expensive. So glad you enjoyed the activities and Cockatoo Paul. Even if you won't come back, we are glad your enjoyed your experience and made the most of what we offer! Happy travels :-)

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Reviewed November 4, 2013

Recently stayed overnight with small group of friends. Great location and lots of great services on offer to all travellers including pool, beach volleyball, tour desk, café, pool tables, free shuttle to town. Right next door to the Brewery which was great! Only 10 min walk into the centre of town, however after having booked a small tepee, we were advised on arrival that it was not fair to allow a group of 5 to share a 6 bed tepee with 1 other as it was intimidating therefore we had been allocated into the 10 bed tepee. Coming from 7 years in the hospitality industry myself, I found this excuse very poor on their part, as I'm sure the person who booked on their own knew full well that they would potentially be sharing with up to 5 other randoms, regardless of the fact that they were travelling together or not. Secondly, as a hostel, you would think that people are friendly enough especially when you are sharing close sleeping quarters together, to assume that we would make the solo traveller feel unwelcome is judgemental on the staffs behalf. Hopefully try another establishment next time I visit Byron unfortunately due to unorganised staff and poor judgement.

Room Tip: Don't book the small tepee unless you intend to book all beds, wouldn't want to make solo tr...
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  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Mocharina
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
artsfactory_13, Manager at The Arts Factory Backpackers Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded December 17, 2013

Thanks for your review. It is from previous experience that we don't book groups in with one or two other guests to the same room, as we have found it can be an intimidating experience - for example, if you were a single female booked in with five guys on a bucks party, how would you feel? I am not sure why we have not been honest? We will still be maintain the policy of groups only in the same room, I hope this is honest enough.

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Reviewed November 3, 2013

A large group of us stayed here for one night in November. The facilities for backpackers are pretty good, free shuttle service, tour desk, big kitchen, volleyball court, pool, games room etc. It's also right next door to a great bar! It's got a nice vibe too as there are loads of open spaces to hang out. While the staff seem nice, they were a little unorganised. We had booked a certain type of dorm room which on arrival could not be provided, that would not have been a problem if it was handled a lot better. All in all though not a bad place to locate yourself, a short 10min walk to the center of town should make up for any negatives you may experience with the staff.

Room Tip: Maybe confirm your bed before arrival to be safe.
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  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank Sparky2509
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
artsfactory_13, Manager at The Arts Factory Backpackers Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded December 17, 2013

Thanks for your review Sparky, overall I would say that is a pretty good wrap! I am sorry you experienced problems with the staff. many of our reception crew are new to the team, I am confident now they are fully trained we will be able to avoid problems such as what you have mentioned. We hope to see you again to prove we have lifted our game! Happy travels :-)

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Reviewed October 31, 2013

I don't even know where to begin, we were told that we would have a free shuttle from the bus station, the shuttle never showed up after waiting for a long while and then trying to figure out how to walk there (through a sketchy ally and over train tracks), we got picked up by another hostel shuttle who felt bad for us with all our luggage. Pretty unreliable of the arts factory not to pick people up after 2 buses have arrived.
The receptionist had absolutely no clue what I was talking about when I asked about our room situation, pretty annoying, and the fact that she spoke terrible English made the situation even worse.
We finally got to our room, which was fairly clean, the locker doors were somewhat broken but we managed.
We wanted to rent bikes, get our 15 min free internet voucher and get some info for things to do but the travel desk was pretty much closed 23 hours of the day.
The hostel allowed camper vans in the parking lot which made for a loud night, unless you don't want the window open, which you do or else it gets too hot.
We had to switch rooms the second night so we needed to check out, put our bags in the lockers $3 because there is no free storage space for guests moving rooms.
The new room in the tents, got cold at night and the toilets were a bit further than I would have liked especially since it was raining.
Hostel is a bit far from town, so you either walk 15 min, rent bikes $10, or take a shuttle whenever it happens to run.

Overall it was a terrible experience, the worst hostel I have ever stayed at in my life. The service was bad and the atmosphere is only great for hippy-types or those who don't give a crap about where they are.

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Michelle D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
artsfactory_13, Manager at The Arts Factory Backpackers Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded November 1, 2013

I am so sorry that you had such a bad experience, this is not something most guests feel, as I am sure you can see from the positive feedback on this page! I feel inclined to write a lengthy response to every comment you have had made, but I don't know this would achieve anything. Suffice to say, we at the Arts Factory sincerely feel the pain when you have had a bad experience. Anytime you wish for us to make it up to you, please let us know. We get too many positive responses to be the WORST hostel on the entire planet - and besides, have you been to EVERY hostel on the planet to make that call! :-)

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Reviewed October 30, 2013

We stayed in our Jucy van at this place as we got a discount. We stayed an extra night cause we liked the vibe so much. There was lots of places to just chill out which was nice. We did the bush walk which was really interesting and also went to the brewery for a drink and to watch some music. We weren't allowed to cook in our van, we bought our dinners there which were reasonable and we used the kitchen for breakfast. The kitchen was really big and the eating area was nice outside! The showers were also good and hot. Really liked this place!!

Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
Thank Lorna M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
artsfactory_13, Manager at The Arts Factory Backpackers Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded November 1, 2013

Dear Lorna,

Thank you for your review. So glad you enjoyed the space and chilled out vibe. It sounds like you made the most of what was happening around the hostel, such as the Bushtucker Walk and the cheap-but-yummy meal deals. Happy travels to you!

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Reviewed October 26, 2013

We stayed here in Jucy campervans and really liked the chilled out vibe in the hostel. We werent allowed to cook in our vans which was fine but the kitchen was tiny and you had to wait for ages to get a space, our only complaint though. Bathrooms were clean and there were enough showers, never waiting. The first night we went to their weekly talent competition, standard of talent was VERY high, goof fun too, MC was a bit questionable but the acts made up for it. Staff were all friendly and the shuttle bus into town was very handy. Really good hostel overall.

Stayed: October 2013, traveled with friends
Thank Jennifer W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
artsfactory_13, Manager at The Arts Factory Backpackers Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded October 27, 2013

Thanks for your review Jenifer. So glad you enjoyed your stay, also glad you got to enjoy the weekly talent show, as it is the best night to be here. Best wishes.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Arts Factory Backpackers Lodge

Address: Skinners Shoot Rd | Arts Factory Village, Byron Bay, New South Wales 2481, Australia
Location: Australia > New South Wales > Byron Shire > Byron Bay
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Kitchenette Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #15 of 65 Specialty Lodging in Byron Bay
Price Range: $55 - $91 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:2 star — The Arts Factory Backpackers Lodge 2*
Number of rooms: 41
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
The Arts Factory Backpackers Hotel Byron Bay

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