Hostile Hostels

One of my biggest concerns prior to leaving was the selection of a place to stay in Hong Kong. A friend of mine, who grew up there, stongly recommended against staying in one particular building. I asked if the neighborhood was bad, and she replied, no, just the building. Her story was coroborated by some other articles which I read, in fact they warned away from another building as well.

The problem is that becase I’ll be staying there over New Years, which is a very popular holiday, finding a place to stay, at an affordible rate, was very difficult. I spent several days searching and could not find anything less than $150 a night which was anywere near the city or municiple railway..

It was with great trepidation that I eventually chose a place in the building I was warned against.

The online reviews of the place basically fall into three complaints:
1) The building is pretty old.
2) The rooms are tiny.
3) There are pushy merchants selling fake watches and other questionable goods in and around the lobby of the building. However, most reviews seemed to think that the place was relitively secure once you got past the merchants.

I did a lot of reading of other reviews, not necessarily about this building. One of the things which struck me was that many travelers complain about bait and switch tactics used by the opperators of the hotels. Additionally there were stories of having to haggle the room price down from a previously agreed upon rate. Most people reported that they were only able to get the origional deal after enough agruing and haggeling.

It became quickly apparent that some of the reviews were fake, probably posted by the owners themselves. These are easy to spot because while every other reivew is low these are high, they mention no negitives about the place, nor speciffics about the experience.

All of these things together make me feel uneasy about what my Hong Kong experience will be like. One thing that’s hard to do, while reading a review is to get a feel for what kind of traveler the reviewer is. Everyone brings their own bias and expectations into a new situation even if it is the norm for the area, as evidenced by the “small room” complaints.


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