After spending a year in residential accommodation when starting university – A.K.A The Ghetto. Let’s not confuse my ghetto living with the saught after modern student accommodation and clean ensuites with the block, modelled on a Swedish prison and not refurbished since it opened in the 80’s, that I stayed in. The said block has since been demolished – it probably cost less to demolish it than to clean the kitchens.
I thought a year of not being able to cook, for the fear of definite food poisoning and always wearing flip flops in the shower because the floor was permanently flooded, had prepared me for a measly week in a hostel.
I was wrong though and I might sound a touch precious to some of you but at 25 years of age I want: a clean private room, a clean-ish bathroom and for it to be quiet enough for me to sleep on week nights. I’m not looking for room service – unless it’s available of course.
We booked Base Central hostel in Brisbane through our travel agent as part of a working holiday package as we thought it would be an easy way to make friends. It turns out we did make a ‘friend’ but just not the way we had expected to.
First off we arrived at 7am and we were not permitted to check in until 2pm, that’s working days worth of wait and after no sleep and one too many miniature fizzy wines on a longhaul flight, you do not want to trek about an unknown city. We struck lucky though as we were given a free breakfast and were allowed to check in around 12.
Slight hitch our room was on the second floor and the lift was broken – I would hazard a guess that it remain out of order for the foreseeable future. Luckily a member of staff helped us with our bags.
At this point I thought it was going to be ok, until we seen our room.
The room really had the bare minimum of a bed and two bar stools for bedside tables. The carpet was dirty and I couldn’t bring myself to properly check the bed for cleanliness as I needed to sleep regardless of whether it was dirty. The door was the worst though as at the top of the frame was hollow grate – you could hear everything going on and trust me some couples have no shame. There was also no locker or safe.
I don’t have too much to say on the bathroom as it was how I expected it – a bit like showering in a public centre bathroom. But, it was clean enough to shower wearing flip flops and I advise to carry a packet of tissues in case there is no loo roll. Pop a packet into your dressing gown for those middle of the night trips.
Our first night sleep was greatly disturbed by the nightclub under the hostel, those returning to their rooms from said nightclub and the unbashful couple. But; we were willing to try stick it out for the week. After all it is a party hostel.
On our second night horror struck: firstly there was a fire alarm at 5am and there was no staff about from what I could see. I had to hover at the door frame in my pj’s and try to work out whether we were to evacuate. Due to my stay in the ghetto I had the throw a bra and shoes on in 2 routine down to a fine art.
Luckily we didn’t need to evacuate but we definitely did need some sleep. So with the aid of our earplugs we did blissfully until around 8am.
At 8am I sprung up screaming at some random girl in our private room. It was like a scene from a horror film.
Let me introduce our main character in this Hostel Horror scenario: ‘Crazy Irish Girl’. I’ve watched a lot of horror films but them and life had not prepared me for this intense situation.
‘Crazy Irish girl’ attempted to calm me down by saying she worked at the hostel and babbled something about being on a tour.
At first I thought we were meant to be on some sort of tour, as part of the working holiday package, but then she explained that it was her that was on a tour and our room was one of the stops.
Sorry – what? I felt a bit like Louis Theroux during one of his weird quests. The journalist in me definitely kicked in at this point. She just casually sat down on our bed and I continued to interogate her on how she came to be in our room.
The only thing she said that made sense was that the hostel was weird and she hated it.
She wasn’t at all threatening but the whole thing was utterly odd. I think she was definitely on drugs.
She eventually left and seconds later chapped to see if she had left her handbag – this is how we knew she didn’t have a key to our room. Someone with a key must have let her in. She also didn’t have any shoes on…
We returned to sleep, utterly exhausted, and awoke wondering if we had dreamt it all.This was Promptly followed with a complaint to the front desk.
We asked to speak to a manager, but they must have wanted to finish their morning coffee, so we dealt with another team member.
To our even further horror they did not know who the girl was and they were as shocked as us. However, for our troubles they offered us an upgrade to a full breakfast. I might have actually laughed – having spent three years working in customer service I knew this wasn’t a fitting goodwill gesture.
I wasn’t complaining about something trivial like a cold shower. I was complaining about a stranger being in our room. A stranger who could have stolen all our stuff or even worse been violent.
I’m going to guess she was new to the job and that’s not her fault as we did ask to speak to management. I told her flatly I wanted a refund, which she couldn’t authorise due to us booking through the travel agent. After speaking to the manager, obviously sitting through the back enjoying said coffee, we were offered to move to another of their hostels.
After visiting Base Embassy and inspecting the available rooms we decided to move and our stay there was much better.
But seriously; being palmed off with extra sausages for a stranger breaking into your room is not cool Base.
I am still in correspondence with the travel agent more than 28 days later and will continue to complain until we get some of our money back for our inconvenience.
No sausage; or streaky bacon will appease me.