A Kings Cross hostel has come under fire for letting the city’s international reputation down, a City Hub investigation can reveal.
City Resort Hostel in Palmer Street, Woolloomoolooo has been slammed by negative reviews on lodgers’ comparison site TripAdvisor and continues to gain widespread ire from its guests for poor hygiene, broken utilities and insect infestations.
Described as a “funky, laid-back backpackers in the heart of Sydney,” the hostel is rated just one and a half stars by TripAdvisor’s community of travellers.
“This is by far the most disgraceful accommodation I’ve ever witnessed,” wrote one user.
“If this is all you can afford, just sleep in one of the city’s parks and save yourself the money and disgust. We left 10 minutes after arriving and my request for a refund was met with a request of me hanging myself.”
Another guest described the hostel as “an absolute disgrace to Sydney”.
Owners Jo Hancock Pty have a Development Application (DA) pending with Sydney City Council which would see the premises demolished and replaced with a seven-storey building containing 32 apartments.
While the hostel awaits news of its fate, long-term residents are often employed to work reception in return for free accommodation. One employee told City Hub he was appalled with the way it was run.
“A couple of days ago I came into the kitchen and there was mice there, they didn’t even look scared to see me. Then sometimes people come in, you’ll be writing their details into the system and a cockroach will start running across the wall. The guest is like ‘Oh you have cockroaches,’ I just have to bat the cockroaches away and joke that we don’t have cockroaches.”
The employee added water damage in the building had led to several of the rooms being closed off completely.
A City of Sydney spokeswoman told City Hub that while it was not responsible for the operation of hostels, the council’s Boarding Houses Development Guidelines nonetheless targets an increase in high quality residences with acceptable levels of amenity, accommodation and fire safety.
The spokeswoman added, “The City undertakes annual inspections of more than 300 registered boarding houses and backpacker hostels in the City of Sydney area.
“The City is currently investigating a number of hostels and will take action where breaches of development consents and building standards have occurred.
“The City encourages residents to report any concerns about hostels to our Customer Service Team… so we can investigate and take action if necessary.”
Regulatory powers available to the council include fines and legal action for breach of development consent and failure to meet basic hygiene standards.
Hostels elsewhere in Sydney generally find a more favourable reception from travellers.
Of 74 hostels rated by TripAdvisor, Sydney averaged a score of 3.08, which is comparable to other world cities; London on 3.3, Berlin on 3.62 and New York on 3.38.
Destination NSW, the state’s tourism body, said “Destination NSW works closely with the Backpacker Operators Association (BOA) NSW to promote and ensure our Harbour City provides great product and experiences for our visitors. Sydney offers plenty of excellent hostel options, such as the Railway Square YHA which was recently awarded the Australian Tourism Award for backpacker accommodation. “Destination NSW understands BOA NSW has a program where people who’ve had a bad hostel experience can raise their concerns. This then allows BOA NSW to work with local councils to rectify the problem.”
Nearby hostel Brado’s, in Darlinghurst Road Potts Point seems to have won a niche with party-goers for a lively atmosphere, but opinion is divided on whether this excuses it from hygiene standards.
“Rats in the kitchen under the fridge, the fridge smells like it had a dead rotting body inside. Rooms are vacuumed once a week. Cockroaches everywhere. Human faeces in the shared showers,” wrote one guest.
But Felix Gonsson, 23, from Sweden conceded the hostel had a vibrant atmosphere.
“Although it’s certainly a party hostel, I don’t like it so much. It is pretty unclean, but then so is every place. It isn’t that I don’t like parties either, I got kicked out of my last hostel for throwing up everywhere. I’ve got the top bunk and its so annoying because you can’t relax,” he told City Hub.
Management at Brado’s and City Resort Hostel did not respond to invitations to comment at the time of publication.