Opened just briefly before we visited in August 2017, Homestel has all the trappings to become a backpacker favourite: good vibes, good location and good prices. Owner Yusuf is a man with a plan.
Located in a quiet backstreet slightly off-center, Homestel has found itself a great location. With the center, the bus station and Osh bazaar all at a 15-minute walk’s distance, most guests will never have to contemplate hopping on a marshrutka during their stay.
When we arrived, a sign at the entrance gate greeted us. In a city where guesthouses rarely advertise themselves at street-level to dodge taxes, that is a feat worth mentioning. Offering 3 twin rooms and 4 dorms with 2, 3 or 4 bunk beds each, all the basics were there, as you would expect from a new hostel: functional kitchen, stable, comfy beds, a shower with easy temperature control and powerful wifi that extends as far as the garden. The common room is cozy: small enough to encourage socializing. They have a cat to play with.
5-star Uzbek hospitality
The garden was still a bit of a dump when we visited, but owner Yusuf has plans: a yurt, camping space, a topchan and a fire with kazan to cook plov. Plov cooking classes and chaikhana tours are also a possibility. You have guessed it: Yusuf has Uzbek roots, and we know they do hospitality like no one else in the region.
After 7 years in Antalya’s fanciest 5-star resort catering to the whims of billionaires and movie stars, Yusuf, a native of Osh, decided to open up a hostel in Bishkek. It is obvious he understands the psychology of the guest experience and you can be sure his staff will be well-trained. Everyone makes an effort to socialize with guests and teach them something about Kyrgyzstan. Yusuf is learning a bit of Korean and Chinese to cater to non-English speakers. We were impressed.
Tips and annoyances
Don’t book the 3-bunk dorm room. It is located downstairs where the common room and the kitchen is. The upstairs rooms are quieter. Same goes for the downstairs twin room.
Air conditioning currently comes in the form of a fan. Then again, prices currently do not warrant our demands for full A/C. A cool option on a clear summer night is the garden bed. Price to be negotiated Uzbek-style.
A point of improvement would be the toilet and shower situation. There are 2 bathrooms, each with a toilet, shower and sink. With a full house, you might have to wait some time. If a camping area and a yurt comes to be, outdoor facilities need to be built.
Although breakfast is available in the form of an egg burger, you are better off catering for yourself. Homestel has local sumalak for sale. Buy a jar and get some bread: it is the new Nutella.