by Harper Dimmerman
Admit it. The allure of that hoity-toity hotel room can be painfully short-lived. For some of us, the descent into anticlimax hell begins, fittingly enough, with the buzzkill of realizing that the mini-bar is priced to kill a buzz, not promote one. It's sobering to say the least. And for the Vox water-drinking, fifteen-dollar-snickers-in-a-plastic-tennis-ball container (one ball, mind you) amongst us, it's the little things that annoy, get our powdered noses out of joint. Mysterious neck marks when you're blissfully married which hopefully are the handiwork of that gargantuan arachnid which miraculously vanished into thin air, doing the early morning climb of shame. Irritatingly gelatinous pillows. Everything has its limits I suppose. Of course there's the inevitable toilet-clogging event, handled with the utmost sensitivity, except for the subtle grin of the questionably discreet, as-refined-as-is-humanly-possible maintenance guy.
Here's how one can avoid these and other distresses. In this world where Community 2.0, emblematic of the hunger for post-modern connections, is all the rage, perhaps we should just lower our expectations. Travel like a vagabond. Find yourself pleasantly surprised that there's actually a roof over the building when you arrive for a bell hopless check-in. Or that the bathing water is relatively rust-free. All kidding aside, hostels aren't just for the melodramatic directionless and flat-bloke teens anymore. Now they're for the community starved and directionless adults with money and in denial, who prefer to re-live their youth.
A recent article in the New York Times by Jennifer Conlin does a nice job of highlighting some of the trendiest (yes, trendiest) hostels globally. We're talking hip names, like The Circus in Berlin, Oops! in Paris and Yellow (just Yellow) in Roma. The backpackers in "American Werewolves in London" might still be alive had these swank chic resting places existed back in the day. Their metamorphoses would have entailed soul patches and sideburns, not werewolf caliber chest chair and fangs.
Just picture the scene at London's Central Youth Hostel: "At one end of the room was a sleek, well-stocked bar . . . Opposite was a line of computers . . . Two older women with trendy haircuts and rectangular-framed glasses were enjoying their drinks at one table, and at another sat a family playing cards. There was not a single poncho in sight." Sprockets anyone? Can’t forget about the Wi-Fi, DJs, live music and karaoke nights either. You know you're too cool for school when your hostel has a subterranean bar, with framed photos of David Hasselhoff (cheesy moustache included), vintage video consoles and décor right out of '70s Florida condo. So the next time you have the inclination to travel frugally, without necessarily forsaking comfort or style, I would urge you to check out the hostel offerings in your destination cities. If you can't afford to spend like a rock star, what's the point of pretending? It leaves you thirsty and envious anyway. It's so much hipper to just don those sporty frames and pretend you're with the band. The indie band that is...