Hostel of the Month: Habitat HQ, Melbourne

Find out more about Habitat HQ hostel in Melbourne

We've been chatting to the fabulous people behind one of our favourite hostels in Australia, Habitat HQ, which you'll find in St Kilda, Melbourne. Habitat HQ is the laid-back home away from home that every backpacker needs to chill out in from time to time. With friendly staff, like-minded travellers, loads of fun events and a great location, this is the hostel to stay in if you're heading to Melbourne.

Don't believe us? Read on to find out why...

We hear you have some exciting things coming up, can you tell us more?

We certainly do. Next month we are launching 'Work, Live, Love Melbourne' which is an all-inclusive package providing guests with a combination of must dos and leisure time favourites. We're offering 7 nights' accommodation with free airport shuttle, a unique Melbourne Tour, Myki Public Transport pack, Australian SIM card, bar work and building site license course and application, bank account set up, an eco-friendly 1 day Great Ocean Road Tour, 1 Day WIlson Prom National Park Tour plus we'll throw in a 'Neighbours' Night pass or a FREE Melbourne City attraction pass for just $AUD452. All guests need to do is decide dates and we'll do the rest!

From May to September 'Melbourne's Cooler Culture' campaign kicks off where each month we have loads of events, parties and loads of giveaways.

Habitat HQ

You've been voted as having the best backpacker facilities for three years running. What is it that makes Habitat HQ so awesome?

Connecting guests to our incredible location, engaging them in our local community and the volunteering opportunities, as well as to the eclectic mix of cafes, bars, restaurants and live music scene that our location is so well known for.

We are not your typical backpackers where the bar defines our culture. We encourage guests to BYO which is great for a backpacker budget.

Habitat HQ is in St Kilda in Melbourne, Australia. Can you tell us some of the top things to see and do in the area?

Wow... where to begin?! St Kilda is jam packed with a combination of iconic and live music venues like the Espy, Palais Theatre and Veludo Bar and Restaurant through to fabulous beachside sunny beer gardens like Republica, Captain Baxter and Vineyard.

Luna Park is an amusement park favourite for young, old and everyone in between. The stunning St Kilda Botanical Gardens provides loads of perfect picnic spots and is the home to the Port Phillip Eco-Centre if you fancy giving back to the community you'll find loads of volunteering opportunities there.

If it's festivals you're after you simply can't miss the St Kilda Festival held in February every year, or the St Kilda Film Festival in May each year. Check out St Kilda Melbourne for a live feed of up to the minute things to do, gigs, entertainment and events.

Reception at Habitat HQ

You must get a lot of backpackers staying with you on working holiday visas. Do you have any tips for finding work in Melbourne?

I think one of the biggest things is to try and get organised as best you can before you arrive. Have your resume all ready to go, make sure your visa requirements are all met and book yourself into accommodation that supports you with resources and services that assist you to get 'work ready'. Regularly check in with Seek and Career One - enter 'backpacker jobs' in the search bar and away you go.

Another big point is to be prepared to follow up applications, don't just submit it and hope for the best. If you're serious about finding work follow up each application with a phone call.

Lastly I would suggest working your network. Check in to a new place to connect with other guests and get to know who's working or friends you know have worked in Melbourne and ask the question 'know anyone who might have some jobs going?' or 'who did you go through to find work?' and follow any potential opportunities up straight away. The more you get yourself out there the quicker you'll land yourself a job.

Habitat HQ is a carbon neutral and environmentally sustainable business. Can you tell us about this and what guests can do to get involved in your conservation projects?

We are the only Carbon Neutral hostel in Melbourne and one of only 25 businesses in Australia certified by the highly respected EcoTourism Australia's 'Climate Action Program' as a Climate Action Innovator. This means we have proactively undertaken adaptations and emission reductions, as well as audit and measure our carbon footprint. We demonstrate our commitment as strong advocates to sustainability and adopt innovative technologies and practices.

Each month we hold a Habitat Hibernation Hour, inspired by the 'Earth Hour' global campaign. We engage guests in the symbolic action of turning out the lights and enjoy a candlelit 'green' discussion where we recruit volunteers to partner with Conservations Volunteers Australia (CVA), here they participate in restoring parklands to save endangered species from extinction. We can get up to 50 volunteers and with some lunch and a member of our team, guests head off always returning with a high sense of satisfaction and a greater awareness of our environment!

Beers at Habitat HQ, Melbourne

What's the best tactic for making friends in a hostel?

Get involved with the events being held at the hostel. Often the events are FREE or super cheap so it's a great way to meet and connect with people. Our Travel guru puts together local tours for individuals wanting to check out some sights not necessarily on their own but as part of a group. This is another really great way to not only see some local sights but you'll always come away with new friends.

What do you think is the best meal to cook in a hostel?

Depends on the kitchen facilities in hostels. Some are better than others but with our two ovens and multiple stove tops I have seen everything from a English Sunday Roast for 20 being cooked right through to pizza dough, BBQs, a Halloween-inspired (and decorated) chocolate cake and homemade biscuits. For those cooking on a budget, we commonly see pasta, salads and two-minute noodles!

Time for a bit of hostel gossip: What's the worst thing you've ever seen in your hostel?

Our front desk team had a host of tales but I'm sharing the one that had the best impact on those listening!

A young Japanese man had a super big night and it was soon discovered on the way back to his dorm his bowels were failing him. This young man was asked to clean up what had fast become an eyesore and gut wrenching stench. As he was doing this another bodily function was triggered where nothing less than a very large bucket was needed to catch what was coming from his mouth as he cleaned up what had come from his rear... he had the hallway to himself that day!

St Kilda Beach

Dorm room sex happens whether we like it or not. What would you recommend we do if we find a loved up couple getting jiggy in our dorm?

It certainly does happen and what we recommend is that you ask the loved up couple to take it somewhere else. If that request has fallen on deaf ears, head to reception and if it's a 24 hour operation one of the team should sort it for you. If not, try security or join together with others in your dorm, majority always rules!

Most times this is as simple as letting those getting jiggy with it know you can hear them and it all comes to a screaming halt. If that's not the case, it's not uncommon to separate guests or if there is simply no telling them then eviction is usually where it finishes.

Here's the big question: Melbourne or Sydney and why?

Melbourne of course... crowned the ‘world's most liveable city' for two years. MELBOURNE Cup, International MELBOURNE comedy festival, Melbourne has the national champion football (MELBOURNE Victory) club and we have the biggest shopping centre in the Southern Hemisphere, Chadstone. Melbourne has the tallest office building in Australia and if it's CBD stats you are after we are Headquarters to 7 out of the 10 top Australian companies. I could go on all day... Sydney is where people visit but Melbourne is where people stay.

Further Information

Habitat HQ is an award winning backpackers hostel in St Kilda, Melbourne. Find out more about them on their website Habitat HQ, Facebook and Twitter.

If you're heading Down Under, check out our Australia Travel Guide or head over to the message boards and put your Australia questions to the community.

If you're going to be staying in hostels during your gap year, you'll want to check out A First Timer's Guide to Hostels.