Horror Hostel

Zur deutschen Fassung dieses Berichts.


Two weeks in Israel, five different hostels/guesthouses, with the most different experiences. At the last one, Al-Yakhour-Hostel in Haifa, I realize, painfully, why there is a horror movie called “Hostel”.

And it had begun so well: a beautiful old Templar house with spacious, bright rooms. Excellent location in Ben Gurion Street, just below the Bahai Temple. Modern and clean toilets and showers. A large kitchen. Sofas in the garden. A friendly welcome from the nice Arab boys who opened the hostel only a month ago. And – always the best hostel surprise, which I already experienced several times during this 2015 trip in Israel – I have the four-bed room to myself. A single room for a quarter of the price. Even more important than the savings is the guarantee of a night I can sleep through. No snoring roommate keeping me awake (as experienced in Jerusalem and Tiberias), no Erasmus students coming back late at night and announcing their return at the highest volume (bad memories of the shared apartment in Bari are still haunting me).

Al-Yakhour-Hostel Haifa

But I made the calculation without the all-around-the-clock service of the Al-Yakhour-Hostel: the non-sleeping guarantee is included in the price. Coming home from an early evening walk, I already cannot use the promised kitchen, nor the lounge with library, where other guests are lounging. But they obviously don’t pay $ 31 per night like me, instead insisting on their friendship, acquaintance, kinship, relationship or (incipient) relationship to the operators of the hostel. I am either not noticed at all or with a what-does-the-stranger-want-here? look.

The big room is being decorated with garlands. A birthday? The anniversary of the Nakba? A suicide bombing? Hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime event, not a regular occurrence every night.

So I’m going out again and find myself a pizza joint. I generously give the young people a few hours and don’t return until just before midnight.

But upon my return, the hostel has degenerated into a disco. Boys and girls are dancing, drinking, boozing, bawling, singing and a laptop is playing Arabic music so loud that the neighbors in Lebanon can hear it.

How am I supposed to fall asleep with this? Maybe it’s my fault that I didn’t bring earplugs, but they wouldn’t do much good. Because noise isn’t the only problem. With each bass, the iron frame of my bed is shaking. Even if I bury my head under the admittedly soft pillow, the movements of the whole barn are so strong that they probably register as an earthquake at the seismological station.

I do understand that people want to celebrate, – well, honestly I don’t understand it, but you have to be tolerant of other lifestyles – but if you charge money, renting a room to someone to sleep (!), then you shouldn’t actively prevent the customer from achieving the contractual purpose.

Shortly before 1 o’clock, I demonstratively go to the kitchen to pick up my bottle of iced tea from the fridge. I stop for a while, looking around (attractive girls), wearing an expression between angry, surprised and reproachful/uncomprehending (you have to know me to fear it) and hoping for a reaction, whether it be an apology, an explanation, an invitation, the acknowledgement of my (paying and thus financing the whole binge) presence or – my biggest wish – a reduction of the volume. None of these things occur. Just a lot of uneducated youth.

I retreat to the room, not yet giving up the hope that the latter of my goals will come true with a little delay. Instead, it is getting louder. The singing of the drunkards is already drowning out that of the singer moaning from the YouTube video.

At 1:45 in the morning, I have had enough. Either I will put an end to the improvised Woodstock or I will at least use the sleep deprivation to write a review of the hostel. With these two goals in mind, I walk down into the kitchen again, notebook and pencil in hand. The kitchen is empty at the moment (everyone is in the disco room or outside). I pour myself a glass of Jaffa orange juice, sit down at the big dining table and start writing these lines.

Those who want to go to the fridge have to pass in front of my eyes, firing the above described look, maybe even angrier now, at each of the beer collectors. Until one of the young guys running the hostel walks through the kitchen, grins at me and says “Hi” as if everything is hunky-dory.

With a decidedly frowning look, I ask: “I hope it’s not that loud every day?”

As if he hadn’t noticed the complaint, he replies: “No, only on Fridays.”

I explain to the, according to their brochure, “knowledgeable staff” that today is Thursday.

And this information about the calendar really works wonders! After a few minutes, the music stops and over the next 45 minutes, the guests are departing, alone or in pairs. They all have to pass through the kitchen in front of me. One boy says, with venom in his voice: “Now you have it quiet”, as if the wish of a paying guest to sleep at 2 o’clock has destroyed his youth. Only two girls politely wish me a “good night”, but they too look at me as if I was a spoilsport, a grandfather or a strange oddball.

I am sitting at the kitchen table alone, but with more than two dozen empty bottles of Becks beer. Next to them, there is a brochure about Palestinian “Life under the Occupation”. The irony that their comrades in the Gaza Strip are not allowed to drink beer not because of Israel, but because of Hamas, is probably lost on these young people.

Al-Yakhour-Hostel Haifa beer bottles

The next morning, the music is loud again. The little sister of the big party from yesterday is already in full swing. And now it’s really Friday, so tonight will be unbearable.

But here comes Farid and apologizes sincerely. For the remaining nights, he will transfer me to a soundproof house next door, which is actually reserved for families traumatized by incoming missile fire, and which costs $ 130 per night. I will have it all to myself and for $ 31 a night. And I will sleep really well.

Links:

  • More stories from Israel.
  • The Al-Yakhour-Hostel, if you want to try it yourself. According to the website, alcohol is now prohibited. Either Farid and his five friends have grown up, or the hostel has been taken over by Hamas.
  • If you are still looking for accommodation: On AirBnB you can save 25 € by using this link.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Israel, Travel and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Horror Hostel

  1. Pingback: Hostel-Horror | Der reisende Reporter

  2. Edith says:

    Aside from the terrible night you had, you still looked like a grumpy old man. At the end of the day you were the victim of a very poor hostel service and and a herd of drunken youths pretending to have fun. During a train trip from Paris to Frankfurt, my traveling companions were a pack of stupid teenagers who behaved as if there was no tomorrow. What I thought would be a relaxed and exciting trip turned into a traveling mini-party for 2 hours until a man stood up and faced them claiming his scandal to which one of them “Brave” replied that it is a public place … the man replied “exactly because it is a public place you must behave with respect to others”. Blessed phrase because thanks to this I finally had a little peace the rest of the trip although I already had a headache. Here I understood that ignorance is reckless and it is not youth but the lack of education and respect for others.

    • Back then, I was still a grumpy young man. :-)

      And I agree with you, it’s not really about youth, but about education and respect. And about groups, because I am sure some of these youngsters would be perfectly fine and interesting people to speak to if we met them alone or without alcohol.

      At the hostel, I guess they were still excited that they had just opened it. A few months ago, I was a young guy’s barber shop, and all his friends kept popping in and interrupting my haircut. I felt that his friends were more important than me, the customer. Obviously, I won’t go there anymore.
      People who want to run a business should keep in mind that friends won’t keep them alive. (I am glad I never got the billiard table for my law office that I had once wanted.)

    • List of X says:

      Yeah, I imagine carrying a billiard table with you at all times (because your law office is wherever you are) can get challenging.

    • Well, back then I was rather sedentary.
      Which is one reason why I gave it up.

  3. That sort of blatant disrespect for others and the attitude of getting what you can, while you can is why our C19 numbers are skyrocketing and places are closing down again. Schools have been closed since March 13 and no idea when they will reopen. Not this Fall. From Kindergarten to Universities, education loses to partying and getting your hair done and going to church without masks or distancing.

    Americans are horribly “entitled”. So many people here just do not care about anyone except themselves. It angers and disgusts me.

    Sorry to go on a rant in your comments. Your story just made me think of all of the stupid people drinking and having parties for July 4th. All the people who won’t wear a mask in public… it has become a political issue which is stupid.

    I hope you enjoyed your birthday!

  4. David says:

    I notice there is one word that doesn’t appear anywhere on their website, though they have a link to “Discover Country”. It must be tough for them to be on Ben-Gurion Street. :-)

    • :D That would also explain why they drink Becks when they could have Goldstar.

    • David says:

      As someone who dislikes beer, I wouldn’t be able to tell you which is better. :-)

    • I don’t have much experience either, but when I do drink beer, I go for the local one. (Thus far, I have been very positively surprised in many places in Belgium.)

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