As a grand finale to my wander through Sweden I’d booked myself into the Jumbo Stay Hostel at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport.
Although this is the budget alternative to other accommodation at the airport, I’d have chosen to stay here even if money were no object. The novelty factor far outweighs anything the posh hotels could offer me.
The hostel is, as its name gives away, a refurbished Jumbo Jet. The plane used is a 747-212B built in 1976. It was originally built for Singapore Airlines, served time with the now defunct Pan Am and ended its days in the air with a Swedish airline that went bankrupt in 2002.
It was then bought by a guy who owned a hostel in Uppsala. He had the interior ripped out and refurbished it with tiny dorm rooms, bathrooms and a cafe.
I didn’t technically need to stay at the airport as my check-in wasn’t until midday, but I was so intrigued by this hostel I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity.
I arrived fairly late in the evening as I’d spent the full day and part of the evening exploring Stockholm and then had to go back to the hostel I’d spent the last few days in to collect my bags. It was easy enough to get the train to the airport and then I jumped on the free airport bus that regularly goes between the terminals and car parks. The bus stop is outside the Jumbo Stay and so only a few seconds walk.
An ugly metal staircase is attached to the side of the plane and there’s also a lift. As I had my big backpack I wimped out and took the lift. The hostel has a shoes off policy and so as soon as I was through the door I had to take my shoes off and leave them on the shoe rack.
The reception desk faces the door and is manned 24hrs a day. The cafe is to the left of reception at the front of the plane. It doesn’t serve much, but is the place to get breakfast in the morning. It was quite a nice space and I spent some time sitting and reading and drinking coffee the next morning.
The bulk of the plane is dissected by a narrow corridor with the rooms on either side. I stayed in a 4 bed dorm which had 2 sets of bunk beds. Even though I was late I was able to get a bottom bunk. My room had one girl already in it and another one arrived late on and left very early. The room had a row of porthole windows and a TV which none of us had any interest in using. The beds were comfortable and, unusually for Swedish hostels, came with bedding supplied at no extra charge.
The bathrooms are at the far end of the plane. The toilets and showers are tiny but the shower was surprisingly good. The basins are in a kind of annexe sticking out of the side of the plane. An ironing board, PC and bookshelf are also at this end of plane.
I slept really well and next morning, because I was already at the airport, I could relax and chill. After breakfast I explored a bit more and did a wing-walk – shame that isn’t on my list of 60 things to do before I’m 60!
Ok, it’s a very tame wing-walk as the plane is on the ground, but it’s the only chance I’m ever likely to get to walk on the wing of a plane. The wing has been turned into a kind of veranda and it’s possible to do the wing-walk even if you’re not actually staying at the hostel. Non-residents have to pay, but it was only a few kronor and so is something worth considering if you ever have a few hours to spare at Arlanda.
Underneath the plane there are picnic tables and a tyre swing, but the weather really wasn’t good enough to spend much time sitting outside.
The engines are currently being turned into private rooms and these would also be quite interesting to stay in if like me, you quite fancy the idea of being able to drop, ‘I remember the time I spent the night in the engine housing of a Jumbo Jet’ into a conversation.
The place I really want to stay though is the cockpit. Stairs enticingly, but out of bounds, led up to it from the side of reception. It’s a double room and is the penthouse of the plane. I’ve seen pictures online but didn’t get to see it for myself. It gets booked months in advance.
The Jumbo Stay costs more than hostels in the city and I could easily have stayed in the city and got the train in the morning to the airport. If I’d had an early check-in I may have done just this. But because my check-in wasn’t till lunchtime, I knew I’d have time to explore the plane properly, relax and enjoy my surroundings and so I considered it money well spent.
And I got to find out what it’s like to sleep on a full-length bed on a plane AND have a shower on a plane for a lot less than a first-class flight would have cost me!