I spent my first two days in Norway staying with a childhood friend who lived near Oslo with his girlfriend, daughter, and cat. I took a series of trains and buses into the city during the day so I could see somewhere new and give my friend space, but I spent my third night in Oslo so I could make my red-eye flight the next morning.
First I planned to stay with another friend who I had met while volunteering at Camp Pikpa, a shelter in Greece used to shelter pregnant refugees or those with disabilities. When she got sick I jumped online and booked a bed at the only hostel with vacancy: Anker Apartments.
What was “minutes from downtown” was a fifteen minute bus ride and outside of the literal translation of the word, minutes from nothing. The location wasn’t a big deal but the advertisement of it being a short walk from downtown bothered me.
When I checked in, I found another surprise: Bed linen was an extra 50k (six U.S. dollars) and sleeping bags weren’t allowed. Unless you travel with your own sheets and pillowcases, add six bucks to the price of your room. Your booking deposit of course is non-refundable.
“It says you need to rent linen on the website,” the receptionist told me when I asked if he was joking. While true, it was hidden away in the footnotes at the bottom and required you to press the “see more” tab. The price for linen was not listed anywhere on the site.
Still, the total cost of the bed and linen came to $36 so it was much cheaper than alternate lodging in town. The extra cost was obnoxious but not the end of the world.
Upon checking in, the free kitchen utensils offered had to be rented from reception with your passport as a deposit, and had to be returned within three hours or the renter would be fined. This included any and all dishes, so to drink a cup of coffee or use a plate and a knife to make a sandwich you had to go downstairs to rent them, leave your passport, and go downstairs to return them as soon as you finished. I wasn’t cooking so it was no big deal, I convinced myself.
The next fun surprise was that the dormitories were silent zones. We weren’t to talk or use have cell phones turned on.
This was finally the thing that pushed me over the edge. Of course nobody in the room stayed silent or turned their phones off, but many people go to hostels for the social atmosphere and trying to prohibit conversations felt sacrilegious.
On top of those issues there were standard annoyances many hostels have: rude staff, no lockers in rooms, no curtains to block out light on the beds, no power outlets for the top bunks, unreliable internet, dirty rooms, insufficient space in the single common area for a place so big, and $30 for a dorm room.
Was any one thing too much to handle? No. But all of them together made it undoubtedly the worst hostel I’ve ever been at.