The Amman hostel that I stayed in was rated one of the best on both Hostel World and Hostel bookers. Although recent reviews had been less than glowing. On my first night here the staff got exceptionally flustered when I turned up a day early and tried to book in. Balea was arriving the next evening, so I asked if I could have a single or a dorm for the first night and then move into my booked twin room the next night. My booking for the next night wasn’t on their system, even though it was booked through Hostel Bookers and I had my reference details. Eventually I was put into a twin room that I was told would also serve for when Balea arrived. The room had no air conditioning even though it was advertised as standard. To cope with the heat I opened the window and was blasted by the street noise below. I heard three car crashes within thirty minutes. Even with earplugs I knew sleeping with this racket would be almost impossible. When I later met the matron she chided the assistant who had put me in such a loud room before I had even broached it as an issue. She quickly moved me into a single room that was off the road. What followed was one of my worst nights of sleep during this trip. The room was stuffy and had no fresh air. I was able to steal an industrial electric fan whose ear splittingly loud gale force blast attempted to blow me through the back wall. The bed itself was the creakiest construction I have ever had the displeasure to lie on. Each small movement I made would set off a series of loud concussive blasts from the bed. Lying corpse like was my only way to attempt any form of sleep. It didn’t work.
The next morning I demanded that as I had booked a twin room with air conditioning that I wouldn’t accept anything less. This caused a lot of head scratching and consternation. Finally a room was provided and upon finding a modern working blower of cool cool air I was pleased. My attempt to have a shower was thwarted by the lack of a showerhead. When I requested a showerhead burst of laughter erupted throughout the hostel workers ranks. The eventual installation of my showerhead was delayed by a water pipe bursting in the adjoining room. Well at least my bed was silent. Over the next few days the elevator broke, the hot water went on vacation and their booking system failed resulting in emergency rooms and beds being made up and staff all squeezing in together as they had overbooked and overcommitted the beds available.
Balea and I ended up staying three nights and using Amman as a base for travelling to and exploring the region. The breakfast at the hostel was better than average and we received a free home cooked dinner from the owners one evening. The matron was also fantastic and the staff were good fun, which explains why I was so forgiving and happy to overlook the many problems with the facilities at the hostel.
Next stop was Petra where we met up with my other two travelling friends. Using the toilet in our Petra hostel required a level of dexterity and flexibility that I was unaccustomed to. One didn’t so much sit on the toilet as contort on the toilet. After a few days in Petra we all came back to Amman for our final night. We booked two twin rooms through Hostel Bookers at the same Amman hostel that Balea and I had already stayed at. When we turned up, apart from the staff firstly being confused by our booking, they then went on to inform us that we had only booked one room and there wasn’t any room for Balea and I to stay. Together we attempted to explain their own booking system to the lady behind the counter and in the process point out the pertinent details that showed not only that had we booked two rooms but that we had also paid to confirm them. The first room offered to my friends smelt horribly stale, had no ventilation and no air conditioning. They declined. More consternation followed in which we were again told that the hotel was completely full. A short while later my friends were shown a further two sets of rooms. Both were turned down for various reasons. Finally a suitable room with air conditioning was offered. While they moved in and lodging was found for Balea and I, I decided to use the toilet facilities in the shared bathroom. Intense relief was quickly followed by panic as I discovered that the toilet didn’t actually work. I took the cistern apart and discovered that nothing short of a new cistern would help me to flush away my shame. Quickly checking that no one was watching I escaped from the crime scene and found my friends again. In the intervening minutes a room had been found for Balea and I. It was on the first floor, had no air conditioning and overlooked the street of no-sleep noise. We decided to take it just to avoid any more hassle. Turning on the light switch for the bathroom failed. So, once again needing to go to the toilet I set about it in the dark. Upon flushing I discovered my second broken toilet for the day. Again I took apart the cistern and unscrewed the internal mechanism connected to the water flow. Suddenly water was gushing out in a powerful stream across the room. Not a drop went anywhere useful. Covered in water and after much spluttering I managed to get the system reconnected and water flowing where it should, only to discover that the seal to stop the water freely running through the cistern into the toilet was missing. Wet and defeated I went back down to reception and asked for another room with a working toilet and lighting if possible. Simple requests. Miraculously within five minutes we had another room. This was the sixth twin room shown to us within an hour. For a full hotel they sure did seem to have a lot of empty rooms.
Having checked the toilet was in working condition I was mostly mollified. The bathroom still didn’t have any working light, but I was assured this would be fixed. It never was. The first time the toilet was to be used Balea and I broke down into uncontrollable fits of giggles. The bathroom door had no door handle; if it were to be closed then there would be no way to open it from either side. For the next day all bathroom activity was conducted with the door open. Not only were we picky tourists who liked to be able to see while we were alternatively shitting or showering, but also surprisingly neither of us relished the idea of being locked in the bathroom for an extended period.
Over the course of the evening my other friends had their air conditioner freeze completely over while they also battled with a lack of any cold water and an abundance of scalding hot water. When surfing the internet that evening to finalise everything for our flights the follow day a web page flashed up informing us that the internet bill was overdue and as such the connection had been disconnected.
Alcohol helped us all cope with the annoying situation and to appreciate the hilarity of it all. Alcohol also helped me to pass out and sleep through most of the Jordanian rally driving outside my window.
Personable staff can only get you so far when you run a hotel. What could be a great place is held back by an absurd and severe lack of maintenance; a lack of maintenance that has turned into a funny story for me to share. Oh and yes, I did go to the toilet a lot that day.