Friday, June 24, 2011

The Worst Hostel I've Ever Stayed In

So I ended up loving London, right? Not so when we arrived. We got to London at 1.30am, arriving at Kings Cross St Pancras Station after a plane, a bus and then a train from Dublin. I was really excited about this hostel because it seemed like luxury compared to the others I had stayed at – a privacy curtain around every bed, individual reading lights and a power point each. Free Wi-Fi, kitchen, lounge. The pictures looked fantastic.

Fast forward to Monday morning at 2am when a very tired me and a very grumpy and sore Courts (carrying both our bags at his insistence) complete the walk from train to hostel. The reception wasn’t overly tidy and the guy behind the counter didn’t really speak English but there weren’t any alarm bells as such. We paid for our week and trudged up the stairs to find our room.

When we opened the door to our room the first thing that hit us was the smell of heat and sweat. There was so many other peoples belongings on the floor that there was literally a square metre to stand on. Although these belongings were scattered everywhere and it looked like a bomb hit the room, it wasn’t entirely the fault of our roommates. There was nowhere to put anything because there were 4 triple-bunks crammed into a room the size of my bedroom at home.

We piled our stuff onto the top bunk, which we had been allocated along with the bottom bunk of the same stack. It was a mission to get the bags up there, not so much because we were aiming 3 bunks up, but because the bunk was so close to the ceiling and our bags didn’t fit between the ceiling and safety rail. The triple height bunks were crammed into a room with normal ceiling height and even with the bottom mattress basically lying on the floor, there wasn’t a lot of room.

I was bitterly disappointed and really upset as well, not least of all because the planning had all been my responsibility. Courtney hates hostels and I thought I’d never get him into another one after this. Crammed onto the smaller-than-a-single bottom mattress together, Courtney got to sleep quite quickly, but I lay awake, unable to sleep with all the people screaming in various languages outside the jarred-open window.

Hostel life, right? I’ve stayed in plenty of hostels – 12 if I count right – and I have reasonable expectations. I have no issues sharing a room with people, I know what I’m doing when I chose a mixed-dorm and I know they’re not quiet places. But I chose this one for the curtains, lights and power points – little indulgences that you don’t get anywhere else. Or here, for that matter. The curtains were non-existent, the lights and power points didn’t work, and the beds were so close my head was next to that of a 50-something bald, fat, hairy, sweaty man.

To be fair, when I asked the manager the next morning if it was possible to get a refund if we changed hostel (everywhere ended up being full) he said yes, he knew the room was rubbish, and he had someone go in and put curtains up that day. He also let us bed-hop through a couple of other, nicer rooms for the next 2 nights before the hostel hit 100% capacity and we had no choice but to go back to room 18. His understanding and hospitality however did not make up for the nasty nasty showers, one of which didn’t even have a shower head or the nasty nasty toilets, several of which you had to stand in a 10cm gap between wall and toilet just to get the door closed around you.

So we are stuck here, and although I’m annoyed that I paid to get the curtains, lights and power points and didn’t get them, they are like I said luxuries and don’t necessarily affect our comfort. If I had somewhere to put my belongings and more than an inch of personal space I’d be happy. Is that so much to ask?

PS. Photos of London are coming!