"Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me" back at campus, I left with a friend to the city of Oxford. We had been studying in England for a semester and thought that it would be great to go explore during one of our weekends. Being the nerds that we were, we settled for Oxford, home of Tolkien (yes, we took photos of his appartment and ate at his favorite pub). Because we were broke, as I stated above, we booked accommodation at a local hostel. This turned out to be a very bad mistake. The first red flag that we ignored was the name of the place...never stay at an establishment that has the word "funky" in the title. Well, we arrived at our hostel and found it to be a bit...dingy. The main room was filled with some kind of smoke, and most of the other guests looked more like carnival workers than students. "It's okay, " we thought, "this place must be really bohemian." It wasn't bohemian, it was just dirty. The hallway leading to our bunk room was covered in badly painted cartoon people and the paint was chipping off the walls. Our room was okay. There was a lock pad on the door, so we felt safe at night. Safe from burglary anyway, there's no telling what kind of biological hazard the matresses exposed us to. We were a bit peeved to learn that there were no locks on the hallway lockers, so we ended up buying some at a local shop. The breakfast was tolerable, it included cereal, a table, and lots of awkwardness. We couldn't tell if the staff was polite or not as their communication skills were a tad rusty. We opted not to take showers until we got back to school as this seemed to be the most hygenic option. I've been in horse stalls that were cleaner than that bathroom. Anyway, I wouldn't go back to any "funky" hostels. Oxford was nice though.
Pros: It was within walking distance of the train station. Didn't come back with a flesh-eating virus.
Cons: Everything else.
*Special thanks to Herman Melville for providing the opening quotation.