Enough with dodgy hostels, we need a system people
In Rhodes it was one power plug between 30 tourists vying for a place to charge their phone and camera batteries. The stench of toilets made me dry retch, as did the bird poo splattered windows that flung open, letting cold air into my room every night.
Cold showers, no elevator and the useless guy at reception reckoned he’s done his back, so no help there.
For 10 Euros a night, what do I expect?
Rewind two nights to Rethymno, Crete.
The bathrooms were clean, the kitchen facilities generous, there were fewer steps to climb, and my roomies were always in party mode.
All for the same price as the hostel from hell.
I say it’s high time one uniform rating system was applied to different types of accommodation around the world.
As a lonesome suitcase dragger (I don’t wear a backpack), looking for rooms to rent in the Greek islands, London and Paris, I wasn’t asking for much.
Available. Central location. Social. Cheap for the area. That was the checklist.
Finding a bed was easy, but finding accommodation that ticked all the boxes was another battle.
Gone are the days when the one to five star rating scale stood for something we understood, and used to narrow our search.
Between STAR Ratings, ARTA Accommodation Assessment, the Grading Scheme set up by Youth Hostel Association of Australia, PRAISE colour coding and others, standards have been thwarted.
It’s enough to prompt a U-turn, and that’s without even leaving the country.
In a world of the 7 star hotel complete with Rolls Royce fleets and personal butlers, is five stars the old three stars?
From a budget traveller’s perspective, it seems renewed benchmarks of class are coupled by new depths of crap.
How to find awesome accommodation? That is the question.
The search has turned into a quasi-competition between myself and a mate from Melbourne who had a blast bunking up in Barcelona but hated Athens.
We scroll Hostelworld, read the Lonely Planet, ask at the i for information booths, but whatever our starting point, a happy ending is always hard to come by.
A lot of it depends on what you want from your holiday experience, and frankly, I’m pretty flexible.
But it always creeps me out when I see families or anyone over 35, shacking up in a youth hostel. Boozy, flirty, travellers and little kids with wrinkled, married Dads just don’t mix around the breakfast table the morning after.
Thumbs up for accommodation with age restrictions, I wouldn’t even consider a place with a curfew.
Surely I can be forgiven for preferring to relax with a like-minded crowd in comfortable surroundings. Plus there’s nothing like a free ‘welcome shot’ in a hostel bar to lift the spirits after cramming half an island’s worth of sight seeing into one day.
Travellers of all ages and ilks struggle to find their niche, but it’s especially troublesome for young people who don’t want to book in advance, and don’t have the cash to rely on brand reputation.
Often we’re the first of our intrepid friends to explore a new destination, and all we’ve got is advice from strangers on a bus, or internet forums where an 80% customer rating can be achieved from two lukewarm reviews.
Sure, a bit of trial and error makes for great travel stories to spice up bland dinner parties.
But on behalf of those for us who know our flavour and are tired of sifting through other’s acquired tastes, I say it’s time to skip the grease.
In a world of man made islands and rumoured nine star accommodation, it can’t be that hard to systematically rate a good nights sleep and a fun time.
Street cred doesn’t always cut it, and there shouldn’t be a need to grasp a different rating system every time you pick up another brochure.
Straight forward standards taking everything from budget basics to incredible indulgences into account should be established by the one global authority.
We should all speak the same language when it comes to a roof over our heads.
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