The Occasional Hostile Hostel

June 26th, 2013

I’ve stayed in some lovely hostels during my budget travels. Many have been upgraded to hotel quality standards; they aren’t your grandparents’ backpacker flophouses any longer. Here in Israel, I’ve mostly had good experiences as well but last night I had a second, serious disappointment at the Gordon Inn and Guest House in Tel Aviv.

I’m in the final stages of completing a science fiction novel in the area and trying to keep costs down. The first time I stayed at the Gordon, I was robbed of some property – my luggage trolley – through no fault of the establishment. You don’t know who you’re rooming with in a hostel and have to take your chances when leaving something in the room. However, I did report the theft to the police and they investigated it. If more people reported such incidents, guests might be less prone to having such problems. After all, hotels and hostels have a wealth of cameras on their properties. If we have to lose privacy to those devices, we may as well take what benefits we can derive from them. Stll, the Inn might not have appreciated the attention because this stay was, well, aborted rather quickly.

I arrived at the Gordon around eleven and was told it was too early to check into the room. As per their custom, I was also invited to store my luggage in their locked closet and given a key for the purpose. After storing one suitcase in there, I returned the key and went to the library where I’m doing my writing. In summertime Israel, it’s hot and I move slowly and deliberately. Dragging a suitcase around simply isn’t possible.

Upon my return to the hostel, the clerk was very antagonistic. For whatever reasons he may have had, he told me that I was considered a ‘risk’ due to issues surrounding my previous stay there. For that reason, they might have to ask me to leave at some point. I asked for the particulars of their complaint but the clerk denied any knowledge of the facts. My response was to say that I was uncomfortable at having any thoughts of ‘risk’ to my person or my reputation in any hotel and would immediately leave.

He said I was free to leave but then told me he had no memory of giving me the key to the luggage room. Therefore, he would have to suspect I might be stealing someone’s suitcase if I removed anything from the closet. “Tell me the things that are inside your case which are specific to you and no one else. Then we can check to make sure it’s yours.”

I’ve never seen any hostel do that which didn’t have the custom of offering a receipt for stored property. Otherwise, it’s store things at your own risk and here’s the key. Nonetheless, I agreed to open a suitcase if an officer was called to look on as I complied. After all, just having the right keys should have been sufficient. I then through him completely off by telling him I did indeed have something specific to me. Those were my breast cancer X-rays.

Yeah, guys love to hear about such things. Not.

He refused to accept that ‘item’ despite the fact that X-rays are even labeled with a patient’s name. Instead he continued to insist I name more items. I lost all patience and tried to call the police but got no answer at their non-emergency line. That required a trip to the station where the officer kindly took down a formal complaint about this evening’s waste of time and energy. I was instructed to show this to the clerk and then, if refused my property, was supposed to call the emergency line and an officer would personally intervene.

Well, back at the ranch, the clerk complied in his own good time. After waiting for him to have a conversation and make a phone call, I retrieved my case and left the building, completely exhausted. Now after dark, the nearest hotel was full and it was too late to begin searching the region. I went to the airport and sat there until morning in perfect safety.

So, here I sit making a recommendation that you can just make so many allowances for the actions of other people before you decide to stand your ground.

Categories: Letters

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