Corfu and The Legendary Pink Palace Hostel

My friend wanted to meet up in Corfu because there were lots of cheap flights from where he was coming from. That’s not the only reason though. If you do a search online for the the best party hostels in the world, the Pink Palace would always be mentioned. In fact, the Pink Palace is ranked first on a lot of those lists. Since we wanted to party at the start of our trip, we made it a point to stay at this notorious hostel.

First I had to get to Corfu though. As I’ve mentioned in one of my previous entries, there are a number of ferries running the Bari to Corfu route from June to September. The one that leaves at 7 PM seemed ideal. I would be able to save money because I wouldn’t need to look for a place to stay for one night. It also arrives in Corfu early the next morning. That means I wouldn’t be wasting much time in transit. I bought a ticket a couple of days in advance online. I just had to exchange the printout of the booking confirmation at the ticketing counter on the day of departure. When I got to the terminal it seemed that a lot of people were buying tickets on the day itself, so I guess I didn’t need to buy a ticket in advance. If you’re on a tight schedule though, I’d still advice buying in advance online.

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The ferry Terminal in Bari

Initially I just bought a ticket for one of those airplane style seats. I booked a similar ticket for that ferry I took from Athens to Santorini, and those seats were pretty comfy. For 55 euros, it wasn’t bad. But as soon as we boarded they kept announcing that a number of berths were still available, we just had to pay the difference in price if we wished to upgrade. For an additional 20 euros I’d get to sleep on an actual bed— I eventually decided to upgrade. This turned out to be a good decision because I ended up sharing a cabin with two other guys who were also staying at the Pink Palace.

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The 3 berth cabin

Food was overpriced, good thing I bought a sandwich outside and I ate that for dinner. The bunk bed was surprisingly comfy so I slept soundly. We got a rude awakening before 5 AM though. The crew woke everyone up since we were already about an hour away from Corfu. We were gonna arrive earlier than expected, which meant we would have to wait for our shuttle service.

The Pink Palace has its own shuttle service that picks up guests from the port or the airport. They charge 5 euros per person, which isn’t that bad since taxis would charge anywhere from 20-30 euros from the port to Agios Gordios. Public buses would be cheaper, but then I’d have to figure out transport routes from the port. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t feel like doing that so early in the morning, so I emailed them a day before I arrived that I would avail of their shuttle service. It’s funny how they gave us different instructions though. When I sent them an email about the shuttle service, they specifically told me where to wait. They even attached a picture. They told the other guys I was with to just wait by the dock so we didn’t know where to wait at first. Eventually we all agreed to wait outside where they told me to wait, and it turned out to be the right  meeting point. You have to exit the port through the main gate and wait for the shuttle in front of a canteen right by the ticketing counters. The shuttle was 20 minutes late so we were thinking maybe we were waiting at the wrong place, but it did arrive eventually. And of course it had to be bright pink in color.

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The shuttle meeting point

After about 30 minutes, we were right outside the Pink Palace— aptly named because everything around us was painted bright pink. The very minute we walked inside, we got a strange vibe. We saw families, young children, old folks— not that we had anything against old folks and families. It’s just that you wouldn’t expect to see such guests when you’re in the so called “craziest party hostel in the world“.

They charge 28 euros a night— not a bad price once you see how much the other places in Corfu charge their guests. To sweeten the deal, book direct on their official website— that way, breakfast and dinner would be included in the price. So you’d only have to worry about lunch. If you’re traveling on a tight budget that won’t be  problem either because for only 3-5 euros you can get a huge sandwich. What about drinks? Beers cost 2 euros. Cocktails could be a little expensive, but if you would take advantage of happy hour you’d get your money’s worth. There are no watered down drinks here. The bartenders would even offer free shots of Ouzo every now and then (but since I hate licorice I found it disgusting.) Because everything is so cheap, most guests don’t even venture out. Since drinks are also so cheap, it’s no wonder lots of people get drunk. So yeah, if you look at it that way, you’d get a really good deal if you choose to stay at the Pink Palace.

If you’re looking for an all out party place though, you’d be disappointed. All those reviews and testimonials that would come up when you do an online search are from a bygone era. First off— that famed booze cruise? They no longer run it. They’ve been using an old boat— probably the same one they’ve been using since the Pink Palace opened decades ago. Eventually it broke down frequently and it reached the point when it became too expensive to maintain. To keep it running they’ve been operating at a loss so they just decided to stop running it. You’ll still see lots of pictures from the booze cruise all over the Pink Palace so there’s some false advertising right there. Practically everyone who wasn’t traveling with a family was looking forward to the booze cruise because that’s one of the things the hostel is famous for. Type in “Pink Palace Booze Cruise” on any search engine and lots of crazy testimonials would pop up. It sounded absolutely insane, so it was a major bummer to discover that they’re no longer running it. There are also no plans to resume the booze cruise anytime soon.

The Pink Palace is also famous for the Toga Parties. To be fair, I liked the concept. It’s fairly priced too. 20 euros gets you two drinks and the pink toga. If you return the toga in good condition you’d get 10 euros  back, so you’re basically just paying 10 euros. Around midnight they do this sort of Ouzo circle with traditional Greek dancing so you’d get a little taste of Greek culture. You’d also get to experience how it feels to have a plate smashed on your head— it’s actually a little painful. It would have been great though if more people joined. I’m not sure how many people were there, I’m guessing about 50. The Palladium club way huge, so with only around 50 people inside it looked pretty desolate. The dance floor was practically empty the entire night, everyone was either clustered by the bar or smoking outside. This was in the middle of July by the way. Right smack in the middle of summer. There should be more people. Or maybe there were more people staying, they’re just not the type who would like to party. As I’ve mentioned, during the day time you’ll see lots of families, little kids, old folks. The swimming pool was practically full of kids. During dinner and breakfast, lots of tables were full of families. Again, nothing against them. But the fact that they were staying at the Palace Palace is pretty telling. No sane parent would ever bring their little kids to a place known for all out debauchery. Their presence proves that the Pink Palace is no longer the place it once was.

Further proof that this place is no longer an all out party place? Those toga parties are only held twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. On other nights there are no set parties. Guests just mingle at the beach bar. This is the first party hostel I’ve stayed at where they didn’t have any planned parties for every night. I’d have to say one thing though. I think majority of the 20 and 30 somethings who were staying there were aware of the reputation of the place. I’d say they all chose to stay at the Pink Palace because of the stuff they’ve been reading online. I guess that’s why practically everyone who’s around my age got laid several times during my stay. When everyone is aware that the place you’re staying at is known for boundless debauchery, even if the place itself has mellowed down everyone is still gonna be pretty open since they’re on the same mindset lol. Seriously, I’ve never been to a hostel where it was so easy to hook up with people. I didn’t see lots of people walking around naked nor did I witness any public orgies, but I’m certain a lot of stuff were happening behind closed doors.

Would I recommend staying at the Pink Palace? Let me summarize the pros and cons.

PROS:

  • Fairly cheap compared to comparable lodgings in Corfu.
  • Free breakfast and dinner are included if you book direct. Both meals are an absolute feast. I could barely finish dinner each night.
  • Great location in Agios Gordios, away from the crowds in Corfu town. It’s close to the bus stop, ATMs, and several grocery stores. There are lots of restaurants too.
  • It’s a beach front property with direct access to the sandy beach (though the part of the beach directly in front of the hostel is kinda rocky)
  • Free use of sun loungers and some floaters.
  • Cheap food and drinks at the restaurant and bar.
  • Friendly and helpful staff. The bartenders would even remember your name.

CONS:

  • No longer an all out party place— which might actually be a pro, depending on what you’re looking for.
  • The famous booze cruise is no longer running 😦
  • air conditioners were not working in some dorm rooms. In July, it’s gonna feel like hell and it would be impossible to get some sleep. Good thing I only stayed in that room for one night when we decided to extend our stay. As soon as you check in make sure the air conditioner is working. We turned on the AC at 2 AM so it was too late to do something about it.
  • Those steps. I never counted em, but there’s a sign saying there are a total of 121 steps. It’s how the place was made so there’s nothing that can be done about it, there’s no use complaining if you’re caught unaware. The reception is way up the hill. The beach bar is right down the beach. If you’re staying in a room up the hill you’ll be going up and down those steps multiple times each day. I’d say I’m fit but several times I found myself out of breath especially if I had to go back up at around noon. Heading back up with a huge backpack was also a chore when we were about to check out. The staff would offer to take your bags upstairs but they would only leave once every hour. This may not be an option if you’re trying to catch the bus.

So yeah. As long as you don’t mind the fact that the Pink Palace is no longer an all out party place, you’ll be getting a really good deal. Even if it’s no longer a party place, it’s by no means dead. You’ll still meet a lot of people. A number of people are looking to socialize each night and they all hang out at the beach bar. Just take note of those steps, and make sure the AC in your room is working as soon as you check in.

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Pink Palace Beachfront

Like most of the other guests we didn’t get to see much of the island. We allotted one day to do some exploring though and it was awesome. I only wish we allotted more days to explore Corfu. The Pink Palace offers tours, like a tour of Corfu town or their own quad bike tour. Here’s a tip: just rent your own ATV or scooter. It’s gonna be cheaper if you split the cost between two people, and you’d get to see more of the island. Also, you don’t have to follow a strict schedule. You can rent a scooter for an entire day for only 15- 20 euros. An ATV costs about 40. Just walk down the street from the reception, you’re gonna see lots of shops renting out scooters and ATVs.

One place I’d highly recommend checking out: The La Grotta Bar in Paleokastritsa. It’s about an hour north from the Pink Palace. It’s a bar nestled on a cliff and it boasts of a spectacular view. You can head down to the water where there’s a spot for cliff jumping. There were good vibes all around so everyone was having so much fun. We could have easily stayed at this place all day. It’s free to just hang out by the water, but it wouldn’t hurt to order a drink or two as a token of gratitude for the people running such a remarkable place.

We drove through a number of villages, and we got to see the real Corfu— parts of the island that we wouldn’t have seen if we just stayed at Agios Gordios. We continued up north with no specific destination. Eventually we saw some sort of fortress in the distance so we decided to check it out. It’s the Angelokastro Castle. It only costs 2 Euros to enter. Even if you don’t care about its history, it’s still worth checking out for the panoramic views at the top.

That day we explored the island made me realize that I haven’t seen much of Corfu. There’s still so much more of the island to explore! If we had more time I would have wanted to explore the southern part. I’d definitely want to make a return trip to Corfu since I’ve barely scratched the surface. As for the Pink Palace? They do give a good deal overall so yeah I’d stay there again. If they’d increase the price they’re charging I may have to think twice… but if they get that booze cruise running again, that would surely seal the deal. 🙂

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