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First night in a Youth Hostel

Posted by daveb on August 15th, 2007

Our first night in a YHA Youth Hostel was in West Lulworth, near to Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door. Some of Squiffy’s friends joked about how difficult I would find staying in a hostel, given my background of relative luxury (in fact it was only today, that I was looking back longingly at the photo of my rig).

Truth is, staying in a youth hostel in Britain is easy once you know the following:

  • There are no youths in a British youth hostel. SQ and I were by far the youngest there. We reckon that the average age was 65.
  • In Britain, there is a secret protocol of near-silence: Any noise whatsoever is discouraged. Before I experienced a hostel, I had visions of talking to everybody, making new friends, laughing, group drinking, cavorting, etc. In fact, people don’t even look at one another.
  • In split male and female dormitories, it is encouraged, no, expected that you get completely naked within 60 seconds of entering the dorm room. This works best if you are an slightly unbalanced old man with a saggy bottom and space is limited in a room of similarly unbalanced old men with saggy bottoms.
  • Breaking wind whilst in bed is expected. It works best if you reflect the sound off a wall, so that your dormmates hear only the echo and thus are not able to pinpoint the source.
  • Beware the hostel kettles! They have been all but destroyed by limescale. Boil water in a pan instead.
  • Do not use the loo just before bed. Instead go to bed with a full bladder and lay in wait until your roommates are moving from light to deep sleep. In a short, sharp movement, jump out of bed and throw the lightswitch to ‘on’. Mumble to yourself that you need the loo. Leave the room, but do not switch-off the lights. Return to room and shake a noisy carrier bag around for about 30 seconds. Deactivate lights and return to bed. Wait 20 minutes. Return to the start of this bullet point and repeat.

Does anyone have any youth hostel experiences or tips to share?


Comment from Doogle
Time: August 15, 2007, 2:46 pm

How do. I fianlly check on your progress. Needless to say TNBC is finally finished, going to work on fridays without a hangover is making my boss suspicious. A quick question. Can I add comments etc without it being tagged to a particular story, kind of a notice board or wall for the facebook geeks.

Comment from daveb
Time: August 15, 2007, 11:40 pm

Welcome Doogle! Shame to hear that TNBC is no more (until my return mwahaha!).

Currently, you can only comment per post — but don’t worry, we will always see you comments,
even if they are on older posts (we get notified and also the homepage lists recent comments).

Hope you enjoy the show. Lots of interesting things happening here!
(Look out for Dartmoor pics over the next week.)

Comment from Naomi
Time: August 15, 2007, 6:31 pm

I remember my first night in a hostel in Hawaii – stumbling into a pitch black room in the middle of the night cos my flight had been delayed, so having no idea of who my new ‘roomies’ were, being woken up hideously early the next day to see a totally naked Swedish guy inches away from my face rubbing sun cream into his balls…. he then tried to shake my hand (with suncreamy ball hand – euugh!) and invited me to spend the day on the nudist beach with him..
Another fond hostelling memory is of lying awake on the bottom bunk of the HI in Amsterdam listening to to Claire snore her head off, after getting high as a kite after one too many space cakes…. How can someone so tiny produce so much noise ; )

Comment from daveb
Time: August 17, 2007, 11:17 pm

You are too cheeky missus! Who was it that fed me space cakes and then encouraged me to
buy an oversized Van Gough painting hmm hmmm…? As for the naked Swedish guy – you said
no to a day on the beach with him – you crazy girl! I’ll be looking out for his type at my next

Comment from claire
Time: August 17, 2007, 11:18 pm

You are too cheeky missus! Who was it that fed me space cakes and then encouraged me to
buy an oversized Van Gough painting hmm hmmm…? As for the naked Swedish guy – you said
no to a day on the beach with him – you crazy girl! I’ll be looking out for his type at my next

Comment from Fiona
Time: August 15, 2007, 7:37 pm

Hi Dave
I was staying in a hostel in Freemantle. OZ. A Japanese girl got out of bed, rustled the obligatory plastic bag, got out her torch, shined it in the eyes of all the roomies and then went to the bathroom. She was in there for hours using up all the hot water, then came back and rustled the bag again, and then noisly got dressed.
Everyone was very pleased when she left the room!
Hope your experiences get better. Fiona

Comment from daveb
Time: August 15, 2007, 11:43 pm

That plastic bag again! I’ll deffo be taking my headlamp out with
me next time, as it’s so difficult finding you way around a strange
room in the dark. I’m petrified of climbing into the wrong bed with
a saggy-bottomed 65 year old man (again)…

Comment from Sista
Time: August 16, 2007, 8:37 am

Oh I don’t know. Sometimes you just gotta take it where you can find it, Wavey.


Comment from Fiona (NLP)
Time: August 17, 2007, 11:53 pm

You must have earplugs, yes? There’s no way I have ever got any sleep in any sort of hostel without them! Yes Dave you are correct-no youths use youth hostels, all the crazy young people go to back packers and stay up till 4am at clubs then return to said hostel to crash. Most of my experiences in youth hostels have involved various levels of snoring-remember this is single sex dorms. I stayed at Tintagel YHA a couple of years ago – what a spectacular position that has! Out in the middle of nowhere and the Atlantic on the doorstep! Wow! That has to be my no.1 hostel but one night I stayed there with a male friend. I went to bed about 11pm and was just getting settled when a group of 3 women came in. Next thing I knew a very overweight body heaved itself onto the bunk above me and moaned about how bad her cold was making her feel. It wasn’t long before they went to sleep and the monster above came into being. I have never heard snoring like it. I picked up my stuff and luckily found an empty bunk as fas as possible from the noise. I went into breakfast the next morning feeling rnot so great and heard a similar story from my friend. He was alone in a small 4 bed room and was joined during the night by a man who snored and ground his teeth so loud Mike said he was worried for the man’s state of mind. I think he thought he might be attacked during the night! Nudity is nothing, you soon to learn to face the wall. Or you could buy a face mask to go with your earplugs.
Seriously though I’ve had some great times in YHA and back packers – you meet all sorts of people and they do talk to you usually and are usually very friendly.
Enjoy! Fi x

Comment from daveb
Time: August 18, 2007, 4:17 pm

What is “back packers”? Is that an alternative hostel that we should look into?

Comment from Fiona (NLP)
Time: August 20, 2007, 12:29 am

A ‘Backpackers’ is an independent hostel that is not part of the YHA organisation. They can be rough as hell or quite pleasant. Often cheaper than YHA’s but you’re not any more likely to get a good nights sleep in one. The best YHA’s to stay in are the ones that have small or private rooms – you’re going to Cornwall aren’t you? If you are I really recommend Boswinger YHA. It has private rooms, very comfortable lounge with Chess set and newspapers, beautiful setting and warden is a nice bloke. I loved it there and have been twice. Also it’s handy for Eden project and Fowey which I recommend visiting. Fowey is pretty and romantic at night and has some nice places to eat. If you’re going to that area I really recommend you check it out. Hope the weather’s OK where you are.

Comment from Chloe
Time: August 20, 2007, 6:57 pm

Have you tried going to a bookshop and peeking into the lonely planet guide to Britain? (or rough guide). Or there must be a book out there somewhere listing most of the independent backpackers…
We found we didn’t always need to buy them… in various countries we just went into a bookstore, found the right book, looked at the next place on our trip and got a list of where to stay (and find the poste restante addresses… don’t need those anymore!) ALthough it is REALLY nice to get a letter/postcard from home when you’ve been travelling for ages. Which tells you we went travelling before the age of email!.

Know someone who may fall into your rustling bag & age categories (although I really can’t attest to the saggy bottom bit though… Or the non-directional/wall-bouncing farts!)

Most indy hostels we stayed at (not tried any in UK yet) were great – unless they were big and in the big cities – then they could become much more impersonal.

One friends story when he was 18, travelling around Australia:
“Got woken up by couple in single bunk bed above me – having very noisy and bunk rattling sex. Could tell EVERYONE else in mixed dorm room was awake and wondering what to do. So I got up, tapped them both and said “Oi I’m trying to get some sleep – go and do that in the toilets”. Got an applause from the others in the room. Went back to sleep.”
(Friend is from Yorkshire… if that explains anything :o) )

My story:
Arrive late to backpackers in small town (ie village) in New Zealand. No double/twin rooms left (90% of our time we managed to get one). Go quietly into bunk dorm room. Hostel supposed to be haunted too and it did have a bit of a strange feel to it. Woke up next morning to realise it was actually not mixed dorms. And I was not in the women’s dorm… Kept very quiet until the large group of loud ‘lads’ had vacated the room. Chris didn’t even notice. (Would he have noticed if we had slept in the other room???)

Headtorches can be very very useful in backbackers… pity not everyone else uses them.

Hope you get more interesting experiences soon too!

Comment from Cherrie
Time: January 4, 2015, 4:40 pm

Fine way of explaining, and good post to get facts regarding my presentation topic, which i am going to convey in university.

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