Despite what I’ve said before about hostels, and they will always be my first choice while I’m travelling, there are exceptions. I have a list of things I look for when searching for a hostel, but sometimes you just don’t have many options to choose from. Either there’s not so many hostels in the town you want to visit or the only decent places are too expensive and you’re left with the bottom end on the quality scale. Sometimes it works out well or at the very least you get an interesting story out of the experience.
I’ve stayed in a whole host of different hostel types; from the top floor of a 15 story building in Ljubljana, a shack on the beach in an isolated Uruguayan community, remote islands and one of my favourite stops was a prison in Canada. You can end up staying in some interesting places, but not always in a good way.
The worst place I have ever stayed (so far) was in New York. I know what you’re thinking, “How can you not like New York? What’s wrong with you??”, but it had nothing to do with the city itself. It’s a great place to visit and really doesn’t disappoint. The problem was the hostel. The location of the hostel was perfect and I’m not even sure it was the whole hostel. Just the floor we were staying on.
I was travelling with my best friend from home, one of the few times I’ve travelled with someone else from the start, and he really isn’t the kind of person who would willingly choose to stay in a hostel. However he never said he wouldn’t stay in one and I give him a lot of credit for giving it a go (Thanks, Phil!). To say that it was the worst hostel I’ve ever stayed in shows how little it did to prove to my friend that hostels are a fun place to stay.
I should have realised when we checked in there were going to be problems. I gave the woman on the front desk my name and we filled in all the paperwork, then handed over the amount for the room in cash. The look of disgust I received in return for handing over the exact amount (about $200 for the two of us) was a bit undeserved. And it was downhill from there on.
The room was a bit basic to say the least, which normally I can deal with. Although we did have a TV, just no aerial or power cable. We had air con but it was one of those big units that filled the window so we couldn’t open the window for some fresh air. And when the air con was switched on it was so incredibly loud we couldn’t use it at night. Not that sleeping was so easy anyway. The bunk bed was one of those with the wooden frame that creaked every time you even slightly moved, and I don’t just mean a little bit. It was still swaying a couple of minutes after I rolled over during the night.
Then there was the communal bathroom. One shower cubicle never worked the entire time we were there, another had what looked like (and possibly was) blood on the curtain. There was ‘something’ in one of the sinks for a couple of days in a row. But my favourite part was possibly the oddest hostel toilet I’ve seen. What we thought was just a board at the end of the row of stalls turned out to be another toilet. We only discovered this after coming back one night and seeing a pair of slippers under the door! The only way anyone could use that toilet was if they were really thin, and even then they still would have had a tight fit to squeeze through the gap. In case you’re wondering, at no point did either myself or my friend decide using that toilet was an experience we needed on our trip.
Bathrooms and creaky beds are always the main ‘bad points’ of any hostel stay. However, I think the worst part of staying in that hostel was when we came back after the first day of sightseeing to discover the cleaners had ‘stolen’ my towel! At least they had wifi.
Worst hostels I’ve stayed at:
- New York
- Koh Phi Phi