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Read the SiGns
05th November 2019
Hostel life & communal living is fun, no doubt, particularly when the hostel is small, and it's easy to bond with other travellers who become your house-mates.
In the autumn and winter months, especially, when most tourists leave and are replaced by another type of traveller- the one who's trying to find, (or lose) himself for a little longer than a weekend break- some guests call Boho Hostel their home for a while, forming some pretty remarkable relationships with other random travellers who happen to be sharing this house with them at the same time, sometimes for months.
They cook together, explore together, make plans for an unforeseen future together, drink together, party together, are hungover together. You get the picture. It's an amazing atmosphere, and generally my favourite time of the year, also because I often feel like an anthropologist studying a tribe, and every year, there are different characters that make it up.
Like in any functioning community, however, there's always that one person (the Cult Leader, the Bad Cop; call them what you like), who needs to make sure there is a structure in place because, sometimes, alas, with some, common sense doesn't prevail, and in ten years of setting up and running three hostels, I have had to put up many a sign, 'How to Live with Other People Without Pissing them Off,' if you will, to keep my guests safe and myself sane.
From banning knives in toasters to spelling out recycling in layman terms, I will list a few of my favourite here:
1- Label Your Food. Or the cat will eat it. When you're living with 20 something people, all checking in and out at different times, unlabelled food is probably the most annoying thing you'll find in the fridge. Does it belong to someone? Does he know his milk expired? Should I chuck it? Maybe if I just eat this unlabelled piece of cheese, I'll create space. Who the hell is Bill?
2- How to stay alive using a toaster. I put this down as culture shock. Clearly, in some remote village in South Spain or France, metal doesn't conduct electricity, and using a knife to pull your bread out of a toaster is more than acceptable.
3- Is Cat Stevens in the Cupboard? - This one is mostly for staff, who forget that the cat is sleeping warmly in the storage room and lock her inside overnight....
4- Don't Kill the Ants! - Why are people bothered by ants? I don't get it.
5- . Wash your dishes! Nothing kills joy more than walking into a kitchen where pots and pans have been left unwashed in the sink, and you need to use said pot or pan, and proceeed to eye everyone up suspiciously to try to figure out who you're going to accuse.
6- You've slept on the wrong bed. This dates back to 2012, (though it happens very frequently) when a Kiwi guest by the name of Will was staying in the hostel for around three months and I mostly communicated with him through post-its, becasue he slept in a lot (clearly on beds which were not his). I actually stuck it up on the wall, where it's been ever since.
7- Will, wash your plates. Refer to Sign 5.
8- Bottles ONLY. This one is self-explanatory, but i did have to circle 'bottles' as some (many) guests were throwing plastic, orange peel, Cigarette butts etc inside too
9- Kindly do not brush your teeth in the kitchen sink. We get it!! Sometimes, the waiting time to use a communal bathroom in a hostel can be excruciating- those whole four minutes....... But that never makes brushing and spitting up in the sink where we wash our coffee mugs OK.
There are many more; too many to list. And I'm sure that there will be more to come, because, having worked in hospitaity for a while, I've learnt that, in some obscure corner of the world, there's someone about to come stay at the hostel for a while with a whole set of weird things he does which don't translate fantastically well to hostel life.
In the end though, what's really important is that my guests are making friends and memories and enjoying their experience, and that Boho feels like a home-away-from-home (yes, possibly under the care of a dictator. But the dishes aren't going to wash themselves, right?)