Sunday, May 18, 2008

hostelling: lowered expectations

i was browsing the net for cheap accommodation in singapore, and i saw this review on

shameless reviewer

i really have to say, of all the reviews i've read in my years of trawling review sites, this really takes the cake. and it doesn't help that the reviewer was from my own country.

a few points of criticism:
1. do NOT use all caps, no matter how horrible your experience is.
2. receptionist = him or her, never "it," regardless of how animalistic their snoring can be.
3. "we knew for a fact that it is a mixed room but it should be all girls" --> what did you think a mixed room was?! mixed room = mixed girls and boys.

i just didn't want to dwell on the grammar. what i want to focus on is how much we expect from hostels. granted, there are exceptionally good ones the world over, i generally recondition myself into expecting nothing but a clean bed when i think of staying in a hostel. after all, its main selling point is that it's cheap, which means they don't have all the resources to fund first-class facilities for their guests. they mainly provide cheap, clean, and safe accommodations. none of the fancy stuff you find in most hotels.

it really pays to know yourself when you book accommodations. i generally choose cheap accommodation because i rarely stay in my room when i travel; i'm always out and won't be needing any in-room amenities (such as a telephone, a tv, or a tea-maker). all i want is a clean bed, airconditioning (if it's a hot place), and a clean bathroom.

if you do decide to stay in a hostel, or a backpackers' joint, please take the time to check reviews. a simple google search of the hostel name and city will yield plenty of results. do not rely on the hostel description on their website or any hostel booking website. of course they will tell you nothing but good things. but they do provide reviews. check them. check the ratings, and compare it with your priorities (cleanliness, location, security, price). reviews at trip advisor are pretty helpful, too.

i myself am a bit picky when it comes to lodging options. i don't have problems with the bed, but i am choosy when it comes to bathrooms. i almost always have to choose a hostel or establishment that offers ensuite facilities, which drives the price higher. but hey, that's what i get for being picky. if it's any consolation, it's still cheaper than hotel accommodations.

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