Lee’s knowledge of the english language is limited, and when booking accommodation for his trip to Europe he failed to notice the letter ‘s’ distinguishing between the words hotel and hostel. Not quite understanding the exchange rate, he also failed to notice how cheap the room was.
Imagine his shock when he discovered that he had to share a room with 8 British lads on a stag do! When he arrived they were swilling fosters and having a burping competition ahead of a pub crawl. Lee was so anxious that he slept fully dressed with his suitcase tucked under the duvet, sobbing quietly. He checked out early the next morning. Hostelling wasn’t for him.
Svetlana’s default expression is resting bitch face. She hates staying in a hostel and will glare at any other women in the hostel who dares to look at her. She’s looking for a job in the capital as her own town just isn’t it cutting anymore and she’s sick of getting her stiletto heels stuck in the muddy roads.
Unfortunately she spends too much money on her acrylic nails and eyelash extensions to be able to afford a hotel, so she’s stuck here until she finds a job. Svetlana spends every waking moment on her beauty regime; even if she only goes to the supermarket she’ll make sure her lipliner and stencilled-on eyebrows are perfect. She usually wears a velour tracksuit, pool slides and some sort of face mask and she can often be spotted taking pouty selfies in the mirror to send to her boyfriend back home, a tracksuit-wearing ‘businessman’ called Dimitri who drives a white Mercedes.
Dino has huge muscles that look like they might rip his shirt. He has a little goatie beard and a slightly maniacal look on his face. He rarely leaves the hostel and spends most of his time doing press-ups and snorting lines of coke in the garden. Hostel guests from his own country wonder why he looks vaguely familiar but none of them realise he’s the guy on the wanted posters they’ve seen at the airport.
Dino is on the run from the police at home and he picked his hideout based on the corrupt local police force and the unlikeness that anyone will ever find him sequestered away here. After a year or so he reckons all the fuss will have blown over at home so he can head back, equipped with some new drug smuggling contacts, bigger muscles and a taser that he bought at a market.
Suze & Jennie
Suze & Jennie left Sydney with big dreams for their trip around Europe. They planned on getting hair braids and matching tattoos, drinking cheap vino and finding attractive Spanish boyfriends. Unfortunately they spent all their money on cocktails in the first three weeks, being unsure of the exchange rate and also taken advantage of by unscrupulous (but hot) barmen.
Now they’re forced to work at the hostel to earn their keep and having never worked before both girls are finding the bed-making and toilet cleaning back-breakingly awful, even though they only work 3hr shifts each day. They spend the rest of the time blagging ciggies from other guests and emailing their parents, pretending that they’re having the time of their lives. It’s no good asking them where to go in the city, they’ll only be able to recommend over-priced cocktail bars.
Like Poppy the hippy, Mo is also secretly very rich. He’s actually the youngest son of a sheikh, but as his older brothers have taken on all the family responsibilities Mo is free to enjoy a gap year that only the mega-rich could dream of. He likes to pretend he’s a man of the people but his rolex and the selection of amex black cards in his wallet gives it away eventually. He has now made an effort to fit in; he ditched his butler* and 16-piece suite of monogrammed Louis Vuitton luggage as soon as he arrived in Amsterdam and realised that there wasn’t room in the under bed storage locker for it.
Mo’s first night in the hostel was a shock. He looked everywhere for the servant’s bell in the room and was shocked to learn that there wasn’t one, nor was the bedlinen 1000 thread count monogrammed Egyptian cotton. He now blends in rather well; he ditched the lacoste polos and boat shoes for novelty t-shirts and nike airs and he even got a tattoo of a crocodile on his foot in Ibiza.
(footnote: the butler claimed asylum in Europe and is now working as a topless waiter in an Amsterdam gay bar.)
Jim was stoned through high school, then through college and now on his travels. He’s perma-stoned, always rolling a joint with an emergency one behind his ear. He doesn’t even try to hide it: most of his clothes have marijuana leaves on them or are otherwise made of hemp, and the ‘420’ tattoo behind his ear is also a dead giveaway.
He rarely eats anything other than cheetos (or the local equivalent) and with his long hair and braided leather jewellery he could have been in a 70s pop band, or a cult. He earns money through some very low level dealing and by working on organic farms. His default setting is ‘chilled out’ and regardless of what you say to him the response will always be ‘that’s far out, man’.
This trip to Europe was Jin-Li’s first time away from home, where her mother still washes her hair for her, even though she’s 23. She needs hand holding constantly: she had to ask a roommate to make her hostel bed when she arrived and she won’t leave the hostel unless it’s part of a group activity, lest she has to use a map. Jin-Li quickly realised that prioritising space in her suitcase for her favourite candies and her collection of plush toys was probably a bad idea, given that she had no clean pants, toiletries or shoes (other than the fluffy pool slides she arrived in).
What she lacks in common sense she makes up for in being genuinely sweet: she makes origami cranes for her room mates, gives them stickers and candies and takes selfies with them to snapchat to her girls back home. She probably shouldn’t have come away without parental supervision but at least she’s learnt how to wash her own hair.
Stuart bought a ukulele on his travels because he thought it would be a kooky conversation starter. He imagined himself serenading attractive girls with it but so far they’ve all just rolled their eyes and given him the cold shoulder. By day Stuart plays on the hostel’s PS2 and by night he’ll tag onto any group he can, nodding enthusiastically even if the conversation is in a language he doesn’t speak or understand.
You’ll spot him by the baggy hippy trousers he’ll be wearing and the happy hardcore t-shirt he found in the lost property bin. He’s been at the hostel for 3 months now but in reality he’s too scared to leave the building. The staff are plotting to kick him out; if they find him sat behind the reception desk or have to listen to his ‘funny’ stories about band camp one more time they might well smash his ukulele over his head.
Bob is the token old guy. He claims he used to be in a Southern California cult and that the scar on his face is from him time in ‘Nam. In reality it was the result of a drunken lawnmower accident and he was too stoned to serve, but he’s not going to disclose that to anyone. Bob has been travelling for 17 years now. He’ll tell you the money for his travels came from investing in silicone valley (‘Steve Jobs and I were buds back in the day, before he stole my ideas’); in reality his father was an evangelical television preacher who left him a large fortune.
Bob is also an extreme cheapskate who spends very little money: you’ll find him rooting in the lost property bin, minesweeping drinks in the bar, unashamedly eating other people’s food in the communal kitchen and fishing dog-ends out of the ashtrays. Bob is in reality a crashing bore but you can always find a group of naive young Americans hanging onto his every word, as he tells them his latest conspiracy theory.
Poppy pretends to be a ‘woman of the earth’ but in reality she’s the daughter of a Duke and grew up on an estate in Buckinghamshire. Her mother despairs of Poppy’s dreadlocks and ‘smelly hemp clothing’, which she usually asks the butler to burn after Poppy returns from one of her many journeys of spiritual self-discovery. You’ll find Poppy doing yoga in the communal sitting area, probably with some dolphin music playing in the background.
If you mention any ailment to her she’ll pull out a crystal and chant some shamanic verses she learnt on a retreat in India. She rarely wears shoes and can be identified by her musty scent: part patchouli, part marijuana and part stale sweat (she doesn’t believe in deodorant). Poppy will tell anyone who will listen about how they ‘simply must try a sacred cacao ceremony in South America’ and she proselytises about the benefits of a raw diet. What she doesn’t mention is her penchant for bolly and cocaine when she goes to house parties with Jasper, Tabitha, Camilla and the gang back home in Bucks.
How many of these characters have you met on your travels?!