Accommodation Review Notes From The Road Reviews RUSSIA

Homeless for a night?? Our first (and only!) negative experience in Russia…

VLADIMIR

Knowing that Vladimir was just going to be a stop off point on our way to Suzdal, we picked a later train from Moscow which arrived around 6pm. We had looked up where our hostel was before we reached the station, so knew we had to catch the number 5 trolleybus which would conveniently drop us directly outside the hostel. The stop was just outside the train station and it wasn’t long before we spotted our bus. Public transport in Russia is ridiculously cheap; it cost us a measly 8p for our 10 minute journey! We boarded and got off at the right stop with no problems – unfortunately our good luck wasn’t to continue for much longer…

The hostel (Like Hostel) address provided on booking.com was basically just the number of a building, and it was HUGE. The front was rows of run-down shops, hairdressers and empty lots. The back was a dodgy looking estate packed with back-to-back apartment blocks – none of them numbered or signposted. We did a couple of laps of the building kitted out with our big bags, and soon realised there were NO signs anywhere! There was nothing to indicate where a hostel might be… nada. After half an hour of walking, trying to ask non-English-speaking locals and realising it was rapidly getting dark, we decided to head to the shopping centre next to the building to dump our bags and think about what to do next!

Gary left me with the bags in the shopping centre and headed off for another lap of the building. He returned 20 minutes later after a fruitless investigation, with a mixture of frustration and despair written all over his face. That’s it, we’re homeless for the evening! I decided I’d do a lap myself – Gary wasn’t keen on me going out into the dark on my own but I argued my case… it was either that or sleep on the floor outside the shopping centre! Armed with my rape alarm, a good dose of determination, and agreeing to be no longer than 5 minutes, I set off. I tried asking in all the nearby shops; no one spoke English but eventually one lady understood what I was asking and pointed to the back of the building. I walked around the back of the estate, pressed a bunch of buttons on apartment buildings and accidentally set an alarm off… Oops. I then spotted a young couple and used my translate app to see if they could help. Luckily for me, I couldn’t have picked a more helpful man! He walked me to the last apartment block, made a few phone calls to ask friends and eventually managed to find out which number it was. He dialled through and a female voice answered. After speaking for a few minutes to the hostel, the only thing the guy could tell me was that it was the 8th or 9th floor. It struck me as weird that the hostel couldn’t provide better directions – did they not know what floor they were on!? I didn’t dwell on the thought long as I had to get back to share the good news!

I sprinted the whole way back to Gary as I was now 15 minutes over my 5 minute deadline and I was pretty confident that he would be assuming that I was dead or kidnapped by this point. Dragging our bags back, we dialled the number and waited. The same voice answered and I politely explained (in Russian) that we were English and could not speak Russian. The voice continued to talk at us, ignoring my comment. I repeated myself a few times with no luck, so I tried stating our names, booking number etc but we were still stuck on the doorstep. This went on for a few minutes, with us getting more and more frustrated and finding it harder and harder to refrain from screaming JUST LET US IN DAMMIT!!! Right before we blew our cool, someone exited the building and we grabbed the opportunity. Heading inside we walked up the eight flights of stairs with our bags (the lift didn’t work, obviously) and realised that the number we were looking for wasn’t on the 8th or 9th floor but actually the 10th…

We knocked and a lady opened the door about 3 inches, peering through the gap and speaking to us in yet more Russian. I once again tried explaining that I didn’t speak Russian but she continued to speak, asking us questions and getting frustrated when we couldn’t answer. Luckily we had a copy of our reservation so we could show her the booking reference. That seemed to do the trick and we FINALLY stepped foot inside.

Things didn’t improve inside – she asked us to fill out a form which was written in Russian and refused to help us or try to understand what we were saying. She didn’t make any effort to mime/ indicate what she wanted when it was clear we didn’t speak Russian and both parties were getting more and more wound up! I tried everything – I even showed her the translate app with the Russian keyboard on my phone and the voice translate option, so she could type or speak, but she refused to even look at my phone. Arrrgggh. In the end, we used our translate app to fill out the form as best we could and went straight to bed, relieved to finally be able to relax after a long three hours…

We’ve had such a great experience in Russia so far – this was definitely an anomaly but still very stressful! I would definitely recommend that you DON’T stay in the Like Hostel in Vladimir if you don’t speak Russian. The hostel itself is fine; we had no complaints about the cleanliness etc. It’s an apartment with a small kitchen and two bathrooms and only three rooms kitted out with 4-6 bunk beds. It’s easy to get into the centre and a decent price. If you are planning on staying there, the apartment number you need is 206… good luck!

Alys 3

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