Any explanation of why I chose to stay in Romania for as long as I did has to start with an explanation of the hostel and community that I became a part of: T5 Social

Occupying a mid-20th century stone and concrete building in Bucharest’s Unirii neighborhood, T5 Social was once a teahouse, but about 9 years back it was converted into a hostel and bar, welcoming backpackers from all over the world. Things were good for a while, but when the pandemic hit the travelers stopped coming, and Rob Lever, the current owner, had to get creative.

Through a combination of good marketing, daily events, and very reasonable drink prices, Rob was able to build a community of expats and locals whose business carried T5 through the lockdown years. And when the world opened back up and backpackers flowed back into Romania, the guests found a flourishing community.

Fast forward a couple years, and T5 has become something incredibly unique: A hostel that also functions as a community event space, bar, garden, and meet-up point for one of the most diverse collections of people I’ve ever seen. Every other hostel that I’ve been to in my life has it’s vibe primarily determined by the guests, but at T5 the opposite is true. It’s the locals who make the place, and the guests have to do the work and stay around to be accepted by this community. I was one of the lucky few to make this transition, and because of this, I now have a second home in T5 Social.

Pictured here is the monthly community potluck held in the T5 garden, and the lovely human in the second picture is my friend Josephina, a local Romanian who ended up renting me her guestroom for the last month of my stay.