My Worst Night in a Hostel

My worst night in a hostel happened over twenty years ago.  I’ve done a lot of traveling since then.  To maintain a record for that long you have to go beyond the standard dorm-room annoyances.  Beyond snoring and body odor.  Beyond bad breath and bed bugs. I’m talking big leagues.  I’m talking vomit.

The place was called The Palm and I liked it because of its location- directly across from the Damascus Gate, allowing quick access to the Old City.  And a fabulous city it was.  I loved Jerusalem’s crowded, covered streets and bustling markets, the smell of falafel frying, the historical and religious sites around every corner.  As far as I could tell, the city was only lacking in one thing – drinking establishments.

Nabil Darwish's photo of a Jerusalem - where I spent my worst night in a hostel.

Jerusalem- fabulous city and scene of my worst night in a hostel. Photo by Nabil Darwish.

Not completely lacking.  There was one good pub – The Arizona, which had a nice garden, decent food and tasty brews.  Travelers, including me, enjoyed hanging out there.  However, when I saw the sign proclaiming that the following night they would be offering two-for-one pints to celebrate their anniversary I felt dismayed.  This was exquisitely bad timing.

Bad timing, because I had signed up to go on tour of Masada on the day that would follow that night.  Masada is many things.  It is the site of heroic hold out against a Roman siege which ended in the mass suicide of 960 Hebrew families.  It is an engineering marvel, a fortified palace built for Herod the Great.  It is also a big rock (about 400 meters high) in the middle of a hot desert.  Climbing is best done early, before sunrise.

A M's photo of Masada at twilight.

Masada at twilight. Photo by A M.

So my tour would be picking me up from the hostel at about 3:30 AM, with a full day of activities planned (climb the rock to see the sunrise, tour Masada, proceed to the oasis park of Ein Gedi and then on to to the Dead Sea, stop at Jericho on the way back to Jerusalem).  I thought it best not to be hung-over.

So I didn’t go to the anniversary celebration at the pub.  Predictably, others did.  The dorm was over-crowded and I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor between two bunks. Sometime in the middle of the night, the dude on the top bunk began vomiting over the side of his bed. Someone yelled at him to get up and go to the toilet, but he remained completely oblivious and kept retching. This was quite a height for vomit to plummet.  It smelled.  It splashed.  It came with gruesome sound effects.  Fortunately for me, he chose to hang is head over the left side of the bunk and I was on his right.  Still…

When I got back to the hostel in the late afternoon the mess had been cleaned up and there were only two people in the dorm.  One of them was The Puker, a skinny British guy with a ruddy face and long, red, curly hair.  “Oh, man! You were puking all over the place last night,” his friend said.

The Puker shrugged nonchalantly. “Oh well. I didn’t get any on me.”

I picked up my stuff and moved to a place were I would have my own bunk – on top.

Tell us about your worst night in a hostel?


Published in Israel, Travel Tips

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Meet the Author

Seasoned traveler, avid reader, over-eater, clumsy but determined hiker and wannabe Spanish-speaker.


  1. Alli Campbell

    Man some people are shamelessly disgusting! That happened to me in college – except it was someone vomiting out of the window of the room above mine. My window was open, and my bed was under it.

    My worst night in a hostel was more along the lines of bed bugs, Bulgarian rap music and a fist fight between 15 7 foot Eastern Europeans at 4am between me and the toilet. My husband woke up to find me booking a 5* hotel. The only 5* hotel we have ever stayed in. Worth every penny. Particularly as it was Bulgaria, so it was still cheap.

    1. Jennifer Choban Post author

      Yikes- sorry about your night in college and your night in Bulgaria. But the worst experiences make the best stories later. 🙂

  2. Maria

    Whoa! Left side, Right side… Too close for comfort but that shot of Masada at twilight is fantastic.

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