The Hostel Owner’s Eight Commandments

Joseph at Castelo de São Jorge in Lisbon, Portugal.

Joseph at Castelo de São Jorge in Lisbon, Portugal.

  1. Thou shalt not unreasonably punish thine clients with squeaky beds. They careth naught for the demonic creaks of this rotten slumber device, and yearneth only to hit the sack after a 16-hour international flight. The irksome racket of the beds shall prevent them from befriending the other guests in the morning.
  2. Thou shalt not christen bread and Nutella “free breakfast”. This is not breakfast. Thine guests are not infidels. “Breakfast included” shall betoken toast of the French varietal, cakes of the pan, juice of the orange, or at least a little yogurt. Furthermore, free coffee at all hours is requisite.

  3. Thou shalt provide towels free of charge. See Luke 10:25-37. €2 for a towel is derisible, behavior expectable only of a nullifidian, paynim, or succubus.

  4. Thou shalt saturate thine chambers with power outlets, lest your guests’ phones die during the night, begetting missed flights and trains. Or worse, begetting mayhem in the guests’ quarters as eight weary migrants cross swords over a single outlet.

  5. Thou shalt inundate the hostel’s lodgings with with plenteous lockers of commodious size. Those providing itty-bitty cubbies shall be met with vigorous hellfire.

  6. Thou shalt not live in thine hostel, nor shalt thine receptionists. You must treat thine neighbor as thyself, but first you must make thine hostel guests thine neighbors, not thine housemates. Thine friends are not invited to watch the game within the hostel common room and not invited to prepare shakshuka in the community kitchen.

  7. Thou shalt stock the kitchen with salt of the sea and oil of the olive, as well as enough specialty spices to make a divine Thai curry from scratch. Just oregano does not count. It is but an impossibility to do anything creative with the leaf of the oregano, the worthless weed of the herbivory world.

  8. Thou shalt not pronounce “24 hour reception” if thine body—or the body of a hireling—is not physically at reception for 24 hours. Thou shalt not leave a sticker on the counter with thine WhatsApp number and then feel wrathsome when guests call at daybreak with questions about their early checkout.


Joseph Winters

Joseph immersed himself in the culture of Northern Italy, a major departure from his small town Washington State roots. Clad in thrift store shorts, a pair of sneakers, and a T-shirt from the clearance section at REI, Joseph mispronounced his way through Versace, Gucci, and Gianfranco Lotti stores. “Dolce and Bananas?” he sputtered in Milan. “Giorgio Armonkey?” he stammered in Florence. By the time he got to Venice, he decided to get onto a gondola and keep his mouth shut about fashion. Interestingly, though, he had no problem saying “gelato,” “gnocchi,” or “biscotti” when placing his order in an Italian “ristorante.” Apart from his linguistic misadventures, Joseph toiled through the extensive Let’s Go “requirements” like seeing Michelangelo’s David or da Vinci’s The Last Supper, making it through the month mostly in one piece, despite only managing to memorize 114 of the 650 kinds of pasta he encountered.