October is here and Halloween is near, so it only seems fitting to share my worst hostel experiences. Now don’t get me wrong, I love hostels. It’s so easy to meet new people, while also saving money on expensive accommodation by staying in dorm rooms. BUT … when you’re sharing a room with anywhere between 8 – 16 other people, things are bound to go wrong every now and again. So without further adieu, let’s creep into some good ol’ hostel horror stories!
The one with the bed bugs
Let’s start things off slowly with the classic creepy crawly bed bugs. Now to set the scene, just imagine the cheapest hostel you could find in the Philippines – aka Big Paul Hostel. With a last minute change of plans I ended up staying at Big Paul on the island, Cebu.
Despite the fact that there were only 3 people in total booked for an 8 person dorm room, I tried not to make any rash judgments about the hostel right off the bat. Flash forward to the moment I decided to lay down on my bed. I found myself constantly feeling tiny creatures all over me. I knew immediately that it was bed bugs but there wasn’t much I could do about it. I was dealing with an injury and there were no other hostels available so I just sucked it up.
I also had the same problem with the bugs in Big Paul in El Nido so it’s starting to look like a reoccurring problem with that hostel!
The one where no one spoke English
My first real solo backpacking trip was in Switzerland. I had just finished travelling through Spain and Portugal with some friends and thought I would extend my layover in another country on my way home. My first stop was Lucerne and I was excited to go hiking and see the sights. I eventually found my way to the hostel I had booked for a few nights and was excited to meet some new people and make friends.
After checking in and putting my things away in my room, I tried to make conversation with other people in the dorm. To my unfortunate surprise, not a single person in my room of 8 people spoke English. They were all from South Korea and while they seemed friendly, it was difficult trying to form any connection. The language barrier was too difficult to maneuver. That night I was feeling really lonely and a bit hopeless that I wouldn’t meet anyone I could spend time with.
The next day I took matters into my own hands and went for a hike by myself. I ended up talking to two guys from New Zealand and forgot entirely about not having any friends back at the hostel.
The one with the rat
Bringing it back to back to Big Paul Hostel in Cebu for another creepy critter tale. After dealing with the bed bugs, you’d think the worst was behind me. Sadly, that was not the case. I began getting to know the other people I was sharing the dorm room with. In the middle of our conversation we saw a dark, small object fly across the room.
At first I thought one of the guys I had just met threw a sock at his friend. We all sat up and questioned what just moved from one side of the room to the other. After about 30 seconds we all realized that a rat had been hiding under one of the beds!! We went to tell the hostel staff, to which said, “oh yessss, we know him!”. EXCUSE ME? They actually knew about this rat and did nothing about it. You better believe I got out of that hostel room as soon as I could!
The one with the thief
I think when most people travel, they know that theft will most likely happen at one point or another. It can be especially easy for things to go missing when you stay in a hostel dorm room with multiple people you don’t know.
To prepare for possible theft, I always bring a lock to put my valuables in a locker or safe. While that usually does the trick, I’ve found that not every hostel has a locker that’s big enough for my backpack. When that happens, I put my passport, money and other important things in the locker. Then I end up leaving my clothes and everything else in the backpack.
This is another one of my hostel horror stories that takes place in Europe. I can’t pin down the exact hostel but it was during my Spain/Portugal trip with friends and there were many hostels that didn’t have large lockers. By the time I got home, I noticed that about 3-5 items of clothes were gone. I never left clothes lying around in the hostel in fear that someone who snag them so I know this mishap wasn’t simply my mistake. One or multiple people had gone through my bag to take a few things. Luckily I didn’t have anything seriously valuable in my backpack at the time!
Moral of the story: Always take valuables with you and if clothing or other items get stolen, don’t sweat it because they can always be replaced!
The one with the ‘accident’
You’ve probably already guessed what I’m talking about. This is hands down the funniest of my hostel horror stories while also disgusting at the same time.
When choosing a hostel for a trip to Sydney on Hostel World, the options weren’t all that great. I narrowed it down to a few that looked alright and were budget friendly and then started reading reviews, as one does. Seeing as all of the hostels had pretty low ratings and reviews, I didn’t have high hopes from the beginning.
After stepping foot in Jolly Swagman’s hostel in King’s Cross, Sydney, I knew immediately that I would not be spending much time in the hostel during my trip. It looked dirty, the staff was rude and the people seemed interesting …
Flash forward to day 2 when I woke up and found out that the girl in the bunk below me had peed on someone else’s bed during the night. I was disgusted but relieved that I happen to be given a top bunk for my stay!
Wait for it …
Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, day 3 rolls around and I get back to the hostel with my friend. We got ready to grab some food and drinks for the night. Then we hopped back on top of our bunks before heading out. It was 7pm and some of our other dorm mates come into the room after a day of drinking. The girl who was below my friend Nicole got into her bed with her boyfriend. A few short moments later we heard her boyfriend say “stop, stop peeing! Stop peeing!” as she got out of the bed. She proceeded to remove all her clothing, whip off her hair extensions and run out of the room butt naked!
The one with the stalker
My most recent and probably the scariest of all my hostel horror stories is from my time travelling in the Philippines. I started making friends at the hostel I was staying at in Boracay. A few of the people I was getting to know and spend time with during those few days happened to befriend an older British man.
One day I was on the beach with some of my new friends and this man approached us. He eventually started asking us all where we were going next so I told him I was headed to Coron. Then he asked when, so I told him I was leaving the next day. He then booked the same flight I was taking right then and there on his phone and made plans with me to go to the airport together.
He also somehow managed to book the same hostel I had booked in Coron – Hop Hostel. This hostel had been booked up for a few weeks so I was getting a bit suspicious. I got a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach but because it was too late to cancel and book a new place and flight, I felt as if I should just go along with the plan.
Before meeting up with him at our hostel at 4am to then grab a cab to the ferry and a ferry to the airport, I prepared in the only way I knew how. I sent my family and friends a message explaining the situation and a screenshot of his facebook profile. He hadn’t given me any specific reason not to trust him but since I’m a young woman travelling alone, I knew I had to be aware of my surroundings and extra careful.
The next day …
We successfully made it to the hostel in Coron. After checking in, I found out that he had managed to get in the same room as me. This is where I started to get a little more scared. I immediately became friends with some girls in our room and that I had met on the rooftop that night. I told them the situation and did my best to avoid him and make plans with other people. A few days passed and I headed to the next island – El Nido.
Once I got to El Nido, this man was completely out of my mind – so much so that I didn’t realize he had somehow found me on Instagram and had started following me. Two days later, I was getting back to my hostel after a day at the beach and saw the stalker pull up. My heart was beating out of my chest and I knew I had to do something about it. I quickly grabbed the hostel manager at the front desk and filled her in, requesting that he not be in my room.
Luckily, the staff were very accommodating and told me to keep them in the loop. I also let new friends know what was going on and from then on I had a lot of people checking in on me.
If you’re a solo female traveller, safety should always be a top priority! Read here for my solo female safety tips.
The one with the arrest
This is definitely the most frightening of all my hostel horror stories to date. It’s taken me nearly 3 years to share this story because the girl involved was threatening me and impacting my life in ways I never imagined.
The story starts when I decided to go to Iceland and was looking for a friend to join me. After having trouble finding close friends to go with I started branching out to acquaintances of mine. I ended up going with a girl I had worked with during the summer. I didn’t know her too well but I figured that was a better and safer option than going alone. Well boy was I wrong.
As soon as we got to our hostel, she suggested we drink that night. I thought that could be fun and we could get to know other people in our room. As the night went on she got progressively more intoxicated. Eventually, I told her I was going to go to sleep and asked if she had a key to get back into our room. She got a little aggressive but I looked past it and chalked it up to her being drunk. So I went to bed and was out like a light.
Sometime around 3AM I was shaken awake by a worker at the hostel. Once I got up I realized that everyone in my room was awake because the girl I came with was screaming and punching the walls. I went to try and calm her down and she tried to attack me. Luckily there were some men around that held her back as she screeched and threw punches. At some point during all of this commotion, she punched the man working at the front desk of the hostel. At this point the police were called and everyone in our room watched the security footage of her getting arrested.
Although in the moment this was a terrifying position to be in, it pushed me to travel solo. I learned how easy it was to make friends in a hostel and find things to do with new people. If it wasn’t for that experience I probably wouldn’t have been so comfortable with solo travel, so I choose to see it as a positive experience!
So that concludes my hostel horror stories for the time being. Hopefully I won’t have too many more to add to the list in the future! While hostels aren’t always the most ideal place to stay, I actually love them for the most part. It’s probably the easiest way to make friends when you’re travelling solo and allows you to cut costs on accommodation.