A 21 Year Old Backpacker quit her job at the BBC to set up a Bohemian Hostel in Hanoi, Vietnam

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor December 1st, 2015 Posted in Asia, Inspiration and Love Stories, Travel Blog 24 Comments

Would you give up a secured and perfect job to put up a hostel without the security it will be successful? Would you risk all your money and savings into a business in a foreign country? Would you leave your family and friends to follow your heart without being sure that it won’t be broke by your own passion?

A 21 Year Old Backpacker quit her job at the BBC to set up a Bohemian Hostel in Hanoi, Vietnam 2See you at Lily’s front door

Well, Rezma – a 21-year old London girl answered all those questions with YES. Left her job in September 2015 in BBC without nothing but her one suitcase, savings, passion, love and positivity in this upcoming changes in her life.

Who are the people behind this newest hostel in Old Quarter, Hanoi?

A 21 Year Old Backpacker quit her job at the BBC to set up a Bohemian Hostel in Hanoi, Vietnam 9Left to Right: Stu, Rezma and Lily /Photo Credit: See you at Lily’s

Lily, a 30-year-old Vietnamese lady owns a travel agency (Lily Travel). She has been running her own travel agency for over 10 years now and took another leap into tourism industry by putting up a hostel in Hanoi.

Rezma, a young lady who was out on her Friday night and found herself standing in front of a hostel and come up with the idea that she wanted to put up her own Bohemian hostel.

Stu, who has been traveling around when Rezma asked his opinion about opening a hostel. After cruising around to see the good and bad side of the hostel businesses, he realized that he wanted to get involved in the adventure too

The roller coaster ride of planning

2013 was when Rezma got the idea of putting up her own hostel. She knew Lily way back her traveling time in Southeast Asia and they instantly clicked together. Rezma laid her plan to Lily because she(Lily) has been on tourism business for a while now and they trust each other enough and knew that they got a very deep connection together. Stu who has been asked for his opinions and ideas with the plan found himself part of the team as well and they all now living in their dream.
A 21 Year Old Backpacker quit her job at the BBC to set up a Bohemian Hostel in Hanoi, Vietnam 6

Rezma flew back to London to quit her Bachelor and do full time-7 days a week work with BBC as floor runner in different productions such as films, cooking show, kid’s show and a medical show called “Holby City”. She worked hard and saved money as much as possible for 8 months.

A 21 Year Old Backpacker quit her job at the BBC to set up a Bohemian Hostel in Hanoi, Vietnam 4 Rezma’s last appearance on the credits

Family Matters: Telling her family about her plan

That’s right, Rezma actually didn’t told to anyone even her parents or her best friend. But the time has come that Rezma is about to fly back to Hanoi and bring her plans into reality. 2 months before her flight, while having dinner, Rezma told to her mum that she’s quitting her job and building up her own business. Her mum literally just laughed and thought she was joking. However, she was able to make her mum understand it and showed her business plan. Despite the obvious fear for her daughter’s risky plan, she still the one who gave the full support of this big decision that Rezma just made.

A 21 Year Old Backpacker quit her job at the BBC to set up a Bohemian Hostel in Hanoi, Vietnam 4Dorm beds / Photo Credits: See you at Lily’s

The Risks She Has to Take

Rezma admits that like any other people, she was aware with the risks she was taking. Giving up her dream job, chance to finish her studies, investing all her money and the time to make everything happen is a huge step and decision she ever made. If she will lose this, she knew that there will be nothing for her. Nevertheless, she stepped forward and kept going with what her hearts wanted to be.

Frustration and Pressure Almost Kill Her Passion

Rezma might be floating on top of the clouds before she started the proper planning of all the exciting adventure she will be facing in less than half a year. But at some point, she found herself frustrated and stressed with all the paper works and legal documents she needs to finish up. She admitted that the language barrier was a huge problem for her. But having Lily on the team makes it a little easier to make sure that they’re doing everything in a legal way.

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See You at Lily’s

A 21 Year Old Backpacker quit her job at the BBC to set up a Bohemian Hostel in Hanoi, Vietnam 8

They decided to call the hostel as See you at Lily’s, because Lily is already an established business. They also moved Lily’s travel agency (Lily Travel) just beside their new hostel. They decided not to use the name “Backpackers” anymore as this is very much used and they wanted to welcome Family travelers too. The logo is an opened door with the inspiration of Sufi art.

It took her 2 years to turn her dreams into reality, it was a roller coaster ride before she and her team saw the fruit of their hard work. Today, 2 and a half months after their grand opening, the See you at Lily’s hostel is doing great. In the long run, they are planning to transform their hostel into travelers and artists’ hub where guests don’t only sleep here but also shares their passion with traveling and arts.

Lily, Remza and Stu are also planning to renovate the rooms one by one into a bohemian design and put up more arts. The team also works really hard to make the guest feel that they are receiving a good service as promised. They are even willing to take the guests for a tour, coffee or a beer to make their guests feel more welcome.

A 21 Year Old Backpacker quit her job at the BBC to set up a Bohemian Hostel in Hanoi, Vietnam 2See you at Lily’s Double Room /Photo Credits: See you at Lily’s

Competition They Has to Face

See you at Lily’s is located at 16 Ngo Huyen, Hanoi where the street is packed of hostels and other travel agencies, this street is very active especially for tourism industry and the competition is really high. However, Rezma don’t believe with competition, she believes that Hanoi has enough clients for everyone. If all businesses will help each other, everyone will benefit from it. Right now, she keeps a friendly relationship between her and the other line of businesses in the area and make sure that they can work together to bring a satisfying service to all their guests.

A 21 Year Old Backpacker quit her job at the BBC to set up a Bohemian Hostel in Hanoi, Vietnam 5 This street is packed with other Hostels and Travel Agencies

Plans For the Future

Rezma seeing herself in the next years to be able to build up more hostels for travellers and artists. She is also planning to go back to school and finish her study. Working in film industry is still her ideal job and making her own documentary about helping young people especially women to be aware of health and safe sex issues in Southeast Asia.

A 21 Year Old Backpacker quit her job at the BBC to set up a Bohemian Hostel in Hanoi, Vietnam 3Photo Credits: See you at Lily’s

Rezma wanted to inspire young people to take risk and believe in their passion and have confidence. Right now she is a young owner of a this amazing hostel, but Rezma is fully aware that there will be more challenges and risks that she has to go through in the future. But she wouldn’t stop dreaming and playing the game of life even in the end she might lost it. She will stand again, and start all over. Because that’s what life is about, it will keep sending problems on your way but you gotta get up and keep going.

My stay at See you at Lily’s

A 21 Year Old Backpacker quit her job at the BBC to set up a Bohemian Hostel in Hanoi, Vietnam 3I stayed at this very comfortable and relaxing triple room

As my first time in Vietnam, it was a great experience to start my travel with nice people and a place where I can feel very welcome. I was doing a solo travel but the team of See you at Lily’s and their guests were really helpful and sweet to suggest a place to see and eat. One of the owners, Rezma, she personally took me for a coffee and dinner. You can book a dorm bed via Agoda, Booking.com or Hostelworld. You can also read reviews on Tripadvisor.
A 21 Year Old Backpacker quit her job at the BBC to set up a Bohemian Hostel in Hanoi, Vietnam 8

I highly recommend See you at Lily’s to everyone; backpackers or not. I will definitely come back there and let Rezma do a henna tattoo on me!

Monkey Dividers

About the Writer: 

Mary Charie Profile PicHello! I am Mary Charie Ramos Ylagan I’m a bookworm, ice cream hyped (only chocolate flavour or something with chocolate on it, ah, I don’t even know why I’m babbling about this), writer and a traveller. I am a private person, like very. One of my friends even said that maybe I was a hooker before. But if you are highly curious about my personality (which I profoundly doubt), we should travel together. I’m sarcastic in an annoying way but my very close friends love it, though! Pulling some jokes is like a hobby to me, although this gives me hard time to open up my feelings. That’s why I looove my blog, it lets me express myself in a different angle.
Join me on my adventures here amaryroad.com.

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24 thoughts on “A 21 Year Old Backpacker quit her job at the BBC to set up a Bohemian Hostel in Hanoi, Vietnam

  1. A very inspiring story of young lady that follow the desire of her heart.
    Kudos to the writer for sharing a very informative story both for travelers and for people who’s also dreaming to have a hostels like business of their own!

    1. Hello Iam, thank you for stopping by and reading! I met Rez 2 months ago, she was full of courage and a very positive thinker. I’m glad you liked the writing, I did my best to make it as informative and detailed as possible for everyone <3

  2. This place seems to be amazing! We loved the decoration and the crew seems to be great as the city is! We would definitely stay there!

  3. This is amazing, so inspiring. I can’t believe she is only 21! It is my dream to own a hostel and settle down somewhere after traveling. Now I have a place to stay in Hanoi too!

  4. Certainly takes a lot of courage and gumption to do something like this, so hats off to her! Something we all dream of but so few of us actually follow through.

    1. Yes Heather! 🙂 Luckily there’s someone like her who will keep us inspired in making a huge decision in life. 🙂

  5. How inspiring!!! As much as working at the BBC would be awesome, running a hostel in Hanoi doesn’t sound bad at all too! Thanks for my daily dose of wanderlust lol!

  6. Wow! That is truly an inspirational story. We plan to keep traveling until old age. But when the time comes that we need to rest our knees, we want to follow her footsteps and establish our own B&B. It would be so much fun to share stories and adventures with aspiring and fellow travelers.

    1. Hello Adrenaline Romance! Thanks for dropping by! Ah, you guys got some great plans ahead. Safe travels and I’ll be waiting for you BnB <3

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