why am i holding a donut on a train? why do i look as though i got 3 hours of sleep and no shower? oh, well let me tell you.
lindsay, kayla and i go to salzburg quite a bit. i feel like i’m there almost every other weekend. we stay at the same place each weekend. it’s sort of a hostel….sort of not. basically, it’s a secret connection we like to keep secret so that it will always be open for us when we return.
and it was always open. it’s never been booked before. i mean, this place isn’t even listed on hostelworld.com, where most people go to book hostels. but for some reason, when we decided to celebrate (celebrate, mourn – same difference) kayla’s and lindsay’s farewell in salzburg, we were informed our beloved lodging favorite was booked. say whaaaaaaaaaat?!
we had no choice but to stay at a hostel called jufa hostel. now, if you’re wondering if it feels like a slap in the face to stay at a shabby little hostel in a city you’ve done nothing but promote for the past 3 years of your life (and i know everyone’s wondering that right now), then yes – you are correct. but until the mayor of salzburg (whom i’ve met, thank you very much) catches on and realizes that i deserve my own flat right in the middle of linzergasse, then i’ll just have to keep paying for temporary housing there (or staying with friends…which i sometimes do).
so, as i said, we booked a room. at jufahostel.
following our ‘last night in salzburg’ festivities, we walked home to our hostel, only to find that our key card would not open the door to our room. we tried a few other rooms (thinking maybe we remembered the wrong room number) to no avail. we informed the front desk of our troubles and he accompanied us back to the room, only to realize that lo and behold, the key card system was “kaput”. this meant that he could not open any door, with any key (including the master key) in the entire establishment.
aside from the fact that that probably violates a dozen and a half fire codes, we found ourselves exhausted, sitting in the lobby, waiting for the hostel maintenance to figure out how to let us into our rooms until three-thirty in the morning.
we were beyond annoyed at this point (and yes, you better believe i asked in more than one language if we could have a whole new room, only to be informed that it doesn’t matter what room we want/need, none of the doors can be opened) but we decided we’d take it up with the hostel manager who arrived in the morning, rather than lose even more sleep over it with the desk clerk, who made a half a dozen phone calls before some pseudo-policeman entered the building and manually picked the lock so we could finally access our room and go to sleep. as he opened the door for us, he told us, “the key doesn’t work, so once you go inside, you stay inside”. lindsay asked, “what if we have to leave the room in the middle of the night?”, as the bathrooms were across the hall – disconnected from the rooms. it was as if someone had asked lucius malfoy, “but shouldn’t house elves have the right to carry a wand??!”. this guy didn’t even bother answering the question before shaking his head and leaving us to our room (aka prison cell, at this point).
oh! and guess what else? we had booked an 8 bed female room. this means that there are 8 beds in the room, only girls allowed. that’s pretty simple. well! apparently, this hostel does not believe in walls. because when we entered our room, we were, indeed, standing inside an 8 bed female room. it just so happened to be adjacent to another 8 bed female room, with 90% of a wall separating the two. my question is, how much extra money would it have cost the hostel for that extra 10% of the wall? at one point does a person building a hostel, say, “hmmm….i really don’t think we can afford the top of that wall….let’s just leave it like that…”? that’s what i want to know.
because thanks to that genius construction plan, we were awoken at 6:30 am (yes, 3 hours after we were let into our room) by the marching band of zoo animals in the room next to ours.
we. were. livid.
realizing we had no plausible method of resuming sleep that didn’t call for 100mg of valium, we got out of bed, dressed, packed and walked to the dining hall for our free breakfast. following the free breakfast, we approached the desk and asked for the manager.
this was the first thing out of the manager’s mouth when he saw us: “we can’t do anything about the money”. no “hi, girls, how are you?”. no “good morning, i’m so sorry about what happened last night”. no. the first words out of his mouth were, “we can’t do anything about the money”. whoever is teaching the lectures on customer service at whatever austrian university he attended is doing a great job, let me tell you. then again, do you have to attend a university to manage a hostel? probably not. moving on…
i think what was most disappointing to me was that in that 3 hour cat nap of night’s sleep i’d gotten, i’d had dream after dream of me yelling in german at the manager – a foreshadow of the morning to come, i suppose. but in that moment of me vs. the manager, i was so taken aback by his lack of tact, that i stared, mouth agape, before eventually casting a glance sideways at lindsay and kayla, whose faces, incidentally, mirrored mine. and what was even worse than that was what he said next (!), “but i can offer you a free cup of coffee. or a muffin! or any other breakfast food”.
i wish someone had taken a photo of our collective facial expressions when he spoke those words.
obviously unimpressed and doing my best to channel the side of my father that has terrified everyone whose ever seen it (including myself), i said through gritted teeth, “yeah. we just ate breakfast. for free. the hostel serves free breakfast. and we just ate it. FOR FREE”. smiling, he continued with, “well, for 20 euro a night, what do you expect…..we’re not refunding your money”.
so, dear manager, what i would like to say to you now: do you know how many people email me each month asking for lodging recommendations in salzburg? you’d be surprised, i bet. maybe this story will only deter a handful of people from staying at your hostel. and sorry, but i can’t do anything about that. i can, however, offer you a donut. or a picture of me holding one. scroll up to the top of this post, right click, and “save as”. in german, that’s “speichern als”. you’re welcome!
i mean, really…in an age where social media rules the digital world, customer service has never been more important. you know?