Le papillon Torquay hostel review. (4/10)

” Quaint and quirky hostel with eccentricity and slight confusion.”

The atmosphere

The atmosphere was pure intrigue. No other word can describe it. It was like going into a country farmhouse which was built in another age. On arrival you notice a large, setback from the road, white building straight away exuding peace and tranquility.

Having phoned the day before to confirm my booking there I walked with my large camping rucksack to the front of the building where there was no discernible entrance.
I then wondered around the side where a small porch was present with standard buzz -in style buttons. I peered through the door to find bedrooms either side with numbers, yet no reception desk. I tried the door and it was open and called up the stairs to no reply. On walking past a couple of rooms, one on the right looked like it may be reception. I waited there for a while …

Nobody came … I then looked up the stairs where an open curtain enabled the suns rays to cast light off the staircase and wondered up. Up the stairs there was a desk in front with pens and stationary which I guessed was for check-in. Again I called to no avail. Then I followed the staircase up to the top and knocked on a locked door which wasn’t labelled to which a dog began barking.

I waited about 10 seconds to a reply of “who it it ?” I hesitantly called my name and said I was here to check-in to which “I’ll be there in 5 minutes was replied”.
I waited at the desk below assuming check-in would be there and then was called up to the top floor which I believed to be the owners private area.
Up there was the owners cute little terrier dog and the sign in desk where I was hoping to get checked in. After checking the rooms I have booked for 2 nights over the phone she said how she only had a room for 1 night with the excuse …

” A colleague took down your details and I wasn’t in yesterday”.

I then began to panic since I had work in 1 hour and had to get unpacked and changed. She directed me to another hostel in the middle of town known as the Torquay backpackers. After a little walk with the saviour of my new phones’ GPS I managed to find it.

I therefore cannot review night 1 in Le Papillon .

After staying elsewhere I then phoned, as advised, to spend the second night at Le papillon where I was provided with an outside cabin…
This was basically a shed with a bed, a kettle and a massive fake or real tiger skin rug attached to the wall ! ( I was reluctant to ask …).

The bathroom was separate outside and the garden that it was nestled in was large, quaint and natural looking which made the setting at one with nature. That night, having deliberately left my heater on all day and bearing in mind it was a hot sunny day, I expected to return to a snug toasty “shed”. My room however, was very cold indeed. I ate a sandwich, got into bed and tried to sleep.

Since I was too cold to get to sleep I put on a few more layers and slept fully clothed. It was a comfortable double bed which for 25 pounds was good value although the setting, despite appearing romantic with a lit up path and rustic feel, was not for me so I would not wish to stay in that room again. It was certainly a new experience !
Chilling in your room

Due to the cold nature of my cabin (to avoid literally chilling) relaxing could only be done under the refuge of my covers. This made the stay a little uncomfortable and less pleasant but was made tolerable by nice sunny weather. Due to it’s quirky nature with a tiger hyde on the wall and what with it being a shed and all, it made the experience quite unique. It was nice to have your own kettle and bathroom outside which although shared, was permanently empty.

There were nice touches…

These included a pack of mints, plenty of tea and coffee and sugar sachets. The bed had a nice warm rug and the cabin had blinds for privacy.

I was content in my room although the cold dampened the novelty of the eclectic mix of decoration and provisions.

Community areas

When staying outside in a cabin with a double bed the only community is your other half and I am single. This meant that there was no real sense of community so it suits a more introverted individual perhaps looking to do research or writing.

Washing and cleaning

Due to the bathroom being a short outside walk away, you need to ensure all your belongings are securely packed and safe from rain before exit. The bathroom worked fine although it had motion sensitive lighting which is always inconvenient if you remain still for some time and end up left in total darkness.

The shower worked fine with temperature control which could easily be adjusted.
Adequate storage space in the cabin meant that my dirty laundry could be stowed in a bag.

There was never a queue for the outside toilet and my room appeared totally clean with fresh bedding and arranged rug and blankets.

Despite on the face of it appearing cheap I cannot rate the price well. I agreed 40 pounds for 2 nights over the phone and was provided with 1 night in a cold outside cabin for 25 pounds. This was not what I initially expected nor was I totally content with what was provided. For an uncomfortable stay the real question is, was the stay good value ?
The answer to that had to be categorically a no. It was more pricey than expected and the room was not what I had envisaged. Organisation was perhaps let down by the establishments quirky nature, but cannot be forgiven since it was pre agreed.

Customer service

I did not really have any requests. What I did ask was politely answered and I felt like the staff were very approachable and pleasant. For this reason the customer service I would rate as good. Unlike all my previous hostel stays, there were no pressing concerns.


A mostly drama free stay in an outside cabin, which was not booked or expected. It was cold and more expensive that what I had requested and reserved for that matter. The staff were friendly and helpful and the building was quiet if very quirky in layout and practicality, making check-in a bit of a challenge. I would not recommend choosing the cabin but would expect some of the other rooms would have been nice.

My advice would be to book early for Easter weekend and only speak to the owner when reserving a room. The hostel is more suited to leisure than business so may be more pleasant for a couple on holiday. For me it was far from ideal.