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I was in England this past June for a friend’s wedding. The wedding took place in a gorgeous little English town called Stow. Really picturesque, like something out of a fairytale. During the few days I was in town for the wedding I stayed at the YHA Stow hostel.
The YHA Stow Hostel
I had chosen YHA because I had adored their London location, and I still do, so what I’m about to say is solely about the service at the YHA Stow location. Now, how I got locked out of my hostel….
I had checked in the night before the wedding. My friend, the bride, had even dropped off a welcome bag for me that was waiting at the front desk. So the lady at the front desk knew full well I was there for a wedding. I checked in with no issues. Received a key to the room, my room number, and a front door code. I even filled out a card with all my contact info that’s required at YHA locations. I’ve filled it out when I’ve stayed at their other locations. I went out for dinner and returned back at the hostel later that night. Punched in the front door code and went up to my room on the top floor. Had a great nights sleep in their bed.
The next day I got dressed for the wedding. The room was big enough that I was able to spread out and lay out everything I needed to get ready. Getting ready a little too quickly, I sat downstairs in the lobby to connect to the wifi before I headed out. I even said goodbye to the front desk lady on my way out. I attended the wedding and had a marvelous time. After a long night of celebrating the bride and groom I got back to the YHA Stow hostel around 2am. And here is where the trouble begins….
Big Trouble in Little YHA Stow
I punched in the front door code. Red light. I tried again, figuring I punched it in incorrectly. Red light. Again I tried, it was dark, maybe I hit the wrong number? Red light. After a few more tries I checked around the door for an emergency contact number. Nothing. I found zero helpful information on their door. Nothing for emergencies. I checked my phone for a voicemail or email with a new code. Nothing. I had filled out the card. If the code had changed I should have gotten a message right? Wrong.
A Place to Stay
Luckily, I had a friend staying down the street that was nice enough to let me sleep on the couch. They had rented an apartment for the duration of the wedding. Thank goodness! Had I not known someone in town I would have been sleeping against the hostel door. That would have been extraordinarily fun in a dress and heels.
The next morning I went to talk to someone at the YHA Stow hostel about the situation. I went in with a cool head, though honestly I was incredibly frustrated and upset. The same front desk lady that had checked me in was on hand. I told her the situation to which she replied that the code changes on Friday and Sunday nights. The wedding was on a Friday. I had not been informed of this. I understand the need to change the code for safety but to not inform your guests is careless. She said that they have a sign on the back of the door. I did go check this sign after my conversation with her. It is a small sign that anyone could have easily missed. Why wasn’t I told this when I checked in?
Keep Your Guests in the Know
She said ‘they could not keep up with that.’ Can’t keep up with letting your guests know that the front door to the hostel they paid money to stay in would change it’s code?!? Ridiculous! It’s a hostel, not the Ritz, so I understand when there’s not a chocolate on my pillow. But not making sure your paying guests have access is unacceptable. She said she tried to call me but the call didn’t go through. It should be noted that I do not control the phone company so that can’t be my fault.
I had also listed my email address on that card I filled out when I checked in so there was another way to get a hold of me. I know they have access to email because I asked if they could print my boarding card and they told me to email it to them. To put a cherry on top of all that, the front desk lady even mentioned that when she saw me leaving that she thought to herself ‘oh I hope she has the code.’ Well say something!
In Review of YHA Stow
After this incident, I informed an employee of YHA I had been in contact with for my stays in London and Stratford (which were lovely by the way). She was understanding and sympathetic to my situation. Even going as far to talk to the manager of the YHA Stow location and refunding my night. I believe this was all a case of mismanagement on the part of Stow. So I would love to say that I still highly recommend YHA.