Featured image from JumboStay.com
The day started like most long travel days: an early morning, no breakfast, a cold trip to the train station, and stealing naps here and there. It ended, not in a hotel in Poland as anticipated, but in a bunk bed in the cabin of a former commercial aircraft.
How, I hear you ask? I’ll tell you just that.
I was heading to Poland to watch my dad compete in the World Masters Athletics in Toruń, a country I’d never visited before, and the perfect opportunity to visit somewhere new and catch up with family. As an international student in Sweden (read more about that here), seeing family is surprisingly hard to organise, so I was keen to plan this trip.
As it happened, plans evolved, and it became a stop on a two-week tour of three countries. First, I visited an Erasamus friend in Málaga, then I met up with my parents to visit my brother in Almuñécar, Spain, before heading to Belgium to visit my boyfriend. After a lovely weekend, my journey to Poland was always going to be a little bit busy, even if it went to plan. The original idea was to get the train to Charleroi airport, fly to Stockholm, then to Gdańsk, and take a Flixbus to Toruń.
Sounds simple enough, no?
Well, it was problematic from the get-go. I was cutting it very close at a lot of points along the schedule, and from the beginning I was in danger. In the end, though, it wasn’t my risky planning that caused the problem, but a delay of a couple of hours on my first flight. I knew as soon as it was announced that it would cause me to miss the second flight, so I set about finding an alternative plan. Which was when the Jumbo Stay hostel caught my eye.
Naturally, when searching Booking.com for places to stay near Stockholm airport, ahead of my new flight early the next morning, I searched for the cheapest options. I can’t remember what the thumbnail was, but at around £70, Jumbo Stay came in as the second cheapest option. I hesitated for a second- was it worth the extra twenty? I could just go for the cheaper one…
Both offered the same room – private, with a shared bathroom. But Jumbo Stay had a free shuttle to and from the airport and even a buffet breakfast from 3am. I was sold. It was also an actual aeroplane, so I won’t pretend here that practicalities were the foundation of my decision. Obviously it just looked really cool.
So I booked and boarded my actual plane with barely time to check that I’d received confirmation, and figured I’d sort everything else out upon landing. Turns out, that was quite easy. I received a message through Booking with information to check myself in, and also which bus to take from the airport. After stopping for Sweden’s finest, MAX Burgers, and traipsing between terminals, I waited barely two minutes in the snow before the bus arrived.
The stop was clearly labelled and was only five minutes away. From the bus stop, there’s a little path going behind it and away from the road, and as you round the corner, you see it. A whole Boeing 747 just…sitting there.
I’m kind of giggling to myself as I approach, because it’s late afternoon, back in the country I live in when I’m supposed to be in a completely new one, trudging in very not-waterproof trainers through centimetres of snow to find the reception desk in a jumbo jet. That I’m going to sleep in.
After stopping to snap a few photos, I climbed the metal steps to the door and found the reception desk and my key waiting for me (there was a code for the door, of course). Just inside was the actual door of the plane, stood open and with all signage still there. To the left was a curtain dividing the food area, and a staircase up to the cockpit, which is itself a room. To the right was the corridor of rooms and several bathrooms with showers, as well as an ironing board. Really – what more could you need?
At the end of the corridor was the rear door of the plane, also standing open and showing off all the mechanisms. Just beyond it was a normal building door – the fire exit. Outside was a walkway and small seating area on the wing, but I elected not to try forcing the gate open in the snow. Bathrooms and showers were in the corridor – four of them, if I remember correctly. The first shower I tried wouldn’t warm up, but the second one was absolutely perfect.
My room was a triple – thoroughly unnecessary, but the cheapest option on the day – meaning there was a twin bed on the bottom, with a single top bunk. It comes complete with “in-flight entertainment” (a television) cabin windows, a mirror, and storage in the form of an overhead compartment. It was ultimately just a tired hostel room, which would have perhaps benefitted from a fresh coat of paint, but the novelty was wonderful and I had no issues with the cleanliness. The only thing it misses, I thought to myself as I sat in bed typing up this post, is the ability to go and make myself a cup of tea…
My night was silent from the moment I arrived. My main concerns ahead of my arrival were noise levels and heat, but it was brilliantly insulated for both sound and warmth. There were no individual rooms available when I booked, suggesting that at least a few people were in there with me, but I didn’t hear or see a soul until the following morning. The bathrooms looked exactly like plane bathrooms, just brighter and much bigger.
The aircraft was built in 1976 for Singapore Airlines, and was later operated by Pan Am, and finally the (bankrupt) Swedish airline Transjet. It was bought by a hotel owner looking to create a budget option close to the hotel. You can even hold conferences of up to eight, sitting in the original seats, or rent the whole plane for accommodation. The penthouse suite is, of course, the cockpit, which was taped off with a “crew only” sign for authenticity.
Breakfast was, I have to admit, disappointing. I didn’t have high hopes, luckily. It’s a bizarre situation. The eating area itself is awesome, but “self-served” and “from 03:00 to 10:00” don’t make much sense. It’s only because I’m a law abiding citizen that I didn’t go and check it out when I arrived the evening before. Who would have stopped me?
Not one to eat tons so early on a morning, I was looking forward to a 6am coffee, but the machine was switched off. I could have boiled the kettle I spied for a cup of tea, but wasn’t fancying that. There was a well-stocked fridge of milk, yoghurt, juice, cheese and meats, and a case of crackers. Given the cleanliness, I can only assume that someone visits frequently, but I still wasn’t sure how fresh everything would be. The first carton of milk I tried was very much off, so I held in my retching and grabbed the next one for a bowl of cardboard-y cereal and then grabbed an apple. I both loved and hated that there wasn’t anyone around. It might have benefitted from those sort of individually wrapped muffins or biscuits that hotels sometimes have.
Anyway, so the room was basic but cool, bathrooms also basic but cool, breakfast was rubbish. All in all, I’d avoid the food next time but happily book another stay. In fact, I wouldn’t mind another flight delay in the future if it means I get to stay there. All the rooms seem a bit different and I’d try each one. There are even capsule-style rooms where the engines would be! Except you have to travel into the main plane for the bathroom, which I wouldn’t fancy in the blustery snowy weather we had.
After my underwhelming breakfast, I simply dropped my key at reception and trudged (incredibly underdressed) to the bus stop, waited less than ten minutes, and travelled the one stop back to the airport. It really couldn’t have been simpler.
And thus concluded by very unexpected overnight stay in a Boeing 747 jet. Here’s to the first of (hopefully) many unique stays!