Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bathrooms That Kill; Is a Hostel for you?

So far, South Africa has offered the widest variety of bathrooms, ranging from Michelin-rated to confounding to painful.

Fourstar bathroom:
- Beacon Hotel in Plattenberg: It's a fourstar hotel, they have have fourstar bathrooms.
- Virgin Active health clubs: It's a nice health club with nice W.C.s

- in several places I have found sinks and showers in which the hot water handle is the right handle (instead of the left).
- in one Virgin Active club, there were four sinks, two of which had hot water handles on the left while the other two sinks had the hot water handle on the right.
- in one Virgin Active club, the toilet paper unrolled horizontally (you unrolled the paper by pulling it across) instead of vertically, where you unroll by pulling the paper down.

- One place I stayed, when you touched the hot or cold handle you received an electric shock. (I used a bottle of shampoo to turn the water on and off) Adjusting the shower head also delivered a shock.

Like European toilets, most South African toilets have minimal amounts of water in the bowl. To put this in perspective, if a U.S. toilet bowl had a quart of water in the bowl between flushes, a European toilet probably has a mouthful, and a South African toilet, probably has two mouthfuls. (These are rough estimates.)

As much as everyone likes to get on the U.S. for being wasteful, the low-water toilets from South Africa and Europe, tend not to flush very thoroughly and can leave behind "crumbs" that can only be removed with a toilet brush.

Is a Hostel Right For You?

At this point, I've stayed in 8 different hostels (1 in Greece, and 7 in South Africa) and can offer a little perspective on this low-cost accommodation option. Basically, a hosel is a very inexpensive hotel -- about 1/3rd the cost of a hotel in the same area. Many of them are quite nice inside. If you can handle camping, shared bathrooms, and the occasional bug, this is worth considering.

Some thoughts:

- hostels in remote areas tend to be nice.
- hostels in the city, tend to be a little gritty.
- the only problems I had with noise were with the city hostels because they were in the middle of the action and didn't have expensive insulated windows.
- the beds have generally been workable, though I've yet to sleep on one with a box spring.