Friday, March 18, 2011

The trouble with Youth Hostels

"Travel is glamorous only in retrospect."
Paul Theroux

Grumpy Old Bastard Alert!
Before I get started on this blog post let me warn you that what is written below is an indignant rant about a negative experience I had in a youth hostel. If you are looking to read something nice and pleasant about humanity or the world, you are probably not reading the right blog post.

Over the last year Alix and I have stayed in every type of accommodation generally available. In family spare rooms, in big hotels, in small hotels, resort-style hotels, Fawlty Towers-esque hotels, Bed & Breakfasts, family run guesthouses, a wilderness lodge, campsites, passed out on the beach, on the floor of an airport, with the seats cranked back in a rental car and asleep in our seats on all types of transport. Like most backpackers, though, we mostly stay in Youth Hostels. There is one big problem with Youth Hostels, and this time around, at the Celica Hostel in Ljubljana, it prompted my email to the Hostel manager below. I'll let you know how it pans out. :)

Dear xxxxxx,

I am writing to request a partial refund for three nights of fees paid to stay at Celica Hostel.

My wife and I stayed in room 116 at Celica Hostel from 7 March to 14 March. When we booked the hostel we understood that there were quiet hours at the hostel from 12 pm to 7 am on weekends and from 11pm on other nights.

I stayed at your hostel understanding that there would be quiet at night and I could get to sleep. I did not receive the service I understood I was paying for, therefore I want my money back for the three nights of disturbed sleep. I am not a light sleeper. I wore earplugs to block the noise but it was still too loud. It is evident that although the quiet hours rule is clearly stated for all guests to see, it is not observed or enforced effectively.

I request a refund of 156 Euros (52 x 3) paid into my bank account:

St George Bank
Account name: Jace Cheal
BSB: xxxxxx
Account number: xxxxx

If you would like to read more detail about why I am asking for this refund please read the full story below. Thank you for your understanding in this matter.

Yours Sincerely, Jace Cheal. The full story:

On Friday 11th March a group of 8 young British men were making lots of noise that interrupted my sleep several times. The security man at reception requested that they be quiet and he was ignored, they continued to make noise throughout the night.

On Saturday 12th March the same group again kept up noise until 1am with loud talking, laughing and opening and closing of doors, then again at 3am. I complained to the receptionist at 3am, by which time he told me he had already asked them to be quiet several times. Again they ignored his request, they did not become quiet until after 4am.

On Sunday 13th March I spoke with the lady at reception who assured me that the procedure the receptionist is supposed to follow if there are repeated noise complaints is to call the police. She reassured me that if the group were noisy again that night, the police would be called.

In the afternoon on Sunday 13th one of the men who was making the noise confronted me in the hallway of the hostel asking if I was going to complain about the noise again that night. He told me "This is a hostel. If you want to sleep at night, go and stay somewhere else." Obviously he had not received the message that the hostel had quiet hours between 12pm and 7am, so I informed him of the rule and pointed it out on the back of his room door.

At 1am in the morning I complained again to the receptionist about the noise from (I think) rooms 103 and 104 which had been going on for hours. The receptionist offered to move me to room 203 so I could get some sleep, which I accepted. I was again confronted in the hostel hallway, this time by three men from room 104 who were angry that I had complained about them. I understand the police were not called. Again the request for quiet was ignored. I was woken again at 4am by the same group.

At 10.30am on Monday 14th March (today) I spoke to the receptionist who admitted that they knew about the persistent noise and agreed that they were basically powerless to do anything about the large group of loud idiots. She explained that she did not have the authority to give me a refund, gave me your email address and suggested I write to you about this matter.



  1. oh how disappointing, we thought it might be a cool place to stay. i hope it hasn't ruined slovenia for you!

    s x x x

  2. No, it hasn't ruined Slovenia which, despite this one bad experience, remains firmly in the running as one of our top 5 favourite countries.

  3. After a volley of emails with the front office manager at Celica hostel the basic answer I received was "no, you can't have any refund, because on the third night of the noise you were offered a different room at 1am and you accepted it. Besides, we didn't think the noise was so bad."

  4. How annoying! And what's worse, the office manager not taking responsibility for his own inability to solve the situation... Alas, shit happens when you travel. xo