Disclaimer: this was my first hostel. Ever. I know. How did I go so long without staying in one? Ah, the wonderful perks of working for hotels: discount luxury accommodations around the world. Now, why did I leave that job again?
Oh yes, to actually travel the world!
Now that I no longer get the hotel hook-ups, I have to be thriftier than ever and seek out the budget gems.
The Common Room Project, located in Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown (D5), is one such gem.
Multiple stories tall with 48 beds, The Common Room Project describes itself as a “not quite a hostel, hotel, B&B, or homestay, “ but rather “a cool communal space for travelers and saigon residents to meet, share, and create meaningful connections.”
I couldn’t agree more.
I arrived early on check-in day to drop off my bag (check-in time is 2pm) before heading back out, but as soon as I stepped inside, I didn’t want to leave. I was immediately transported to a beautiful secret garden within the larger metropolis that is Ho Chi Minh City.
Peering past the flowers and ivy, my view extended from room to room as my eyes took in the open concept ground floor. A large, wooden, communal table dominated the central room as other eclectic chairs and seats framed the remaining area for a truly informal and “homey” atmosphere. I couldn’t wait until two so I could really check the place out.
Apparently neither could my cell phone or wallet, who both decided to take a breather and chill out at the reception desk until I returned. I wish I could say this was the last time I made such an error, but I’m sure it won’t be my last. Score one for the world traveler!
I point it out, though, not just to draw attention to my ineptitude (well, yeah, that too), but also to highlight Kerry’s thoughtfulness in looking after my must-not-ever-lose belongings while they took vacation without me.
After confirming that she had them and that they didn’t end up in the hands of a new proud owner, I reflected on this good sign. After all, most high end hotels aren’t as vigilant in safe guarding their guest’s items.
In fact, as the week progressed, I noticed most people left their phones, laptops and bags scattered around the downstairs common room and kitchen. The casual clutter made the space feel like home in a way hotels never could. We personalized the space with our latest reading materials, our ongoing projects, our homework (okay, that was just me) and our culinary adventures. Seriously, someone always seemed to be in the kitchen cooking up something amazing. And I was more than happy to serve as taster.
You can also purchase breakfast or dinner through the hostel as well. I never partook in breakfast, but on one particularly rainy evening, I had bought into the traditional Vietnamese meal for 100,000 dong (about $5 USD— expensive, but it was a great bonding session so I was happy to pay.)
So besides the beautiful aesthetic and the comfortable atmosphere, I most enjoyed meeting and speaking with all the different people staying at The Common Room Project. A couple people lived their full time and most were staying for a month or longer. As someone who was just starting her travels, I loved hearing about everyone’s experiences in and around Vietnam. I’ve kept in touch with a few of these people and actually just met up with one them serendipitously while in Bangkok.
Other features of the hotel not mentioned above, but definitely worth noting:
- There is a washer and dryer available (note: though convenient, it’s way cheaper to send your clothes out at 20,000 dong a kilo versus the 150,000 dong it cost me to wash and dry one very small load.)
- The rooftop was starting construction when I was there, but once complete, it will be an even better chill spot.
- The spices, condiments and other ingredients found in the kitchen are available for your use.
- No A/C in the common area downstairs, but the rooms are kept super cold— just the way I like it.
- Towels are provided. And branded with The Common Room Project stamp.
- The entire bed situation is the most comfortable that I’ve had in Southeast Asia so far.
- There are cubbies and drawer lockers for each guest in the dorms.
- The bathroom has a rainfall shower head— ‘nuff said.
I ended up having to relocate to a cheaper guest house for the remainder of my time in Saigon, but the next time I’m in town, I’ll definitely stay at The Common Room Project. My home away from home.
I found them via Airbnb and especially appreciated the site’s message communicator as an extension of the arrival’s process. Minutes after booking, Kerry sent a welcoming message that detailed how to get to the hostel, how to procure a SIM card, expected taxi charges from the airport and other helpful tidbits about Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and The Common Room Project.
If you’ve never stayed at an Airbnb property before, here’s a $20 off coupon toward’s your first stay— enjoy!