To state the obvious Oxford YHA is a youth hostel that accepts bookings for visitors of all ages. Being relatively new, modern, large and conveniently located with good facilities it is an attractive destination for all comers including large school groups and elderly persons on a budget. Herein lie some problems.
The reception hall can at times present as an overwhelming school assembly or a scout camp. Kids are excited about being away from home. On a previous visit to Oxford YHA boisterous youngsters kept me awake all night. That wasn't a problem this trip but it's the luck of the draw as to whether the school group on the floor above is going to be well behaved or unruly. This trip it was the freight trains running under our dorm all through the night that shook the walls and kept me awake. The hostel is too conveniently situated next door to the railway station.
The reception staff were glum, harrassed, unwelcoming and unfriendly. It was the cooks in the dining hall who offered big smiles and jolly conversation, so much so I think that it should be the cooks who staff the front desk to swap places with 'Surley' at reception who ought to be out of sight washing dishes.
We booked and paid for accommodation 3 months in advance but no negotiation will be entered into. My cousin and I were assigned a top and a bottom bunk in a dorm overhanging the railway line. It's a fact of life that in youth hostels 50% of the bunks are top bunks. Top bunks in hostels are normally not a problem but the Oxford top bunks are stratospheric: very high and difficult to climb into, with, in our case the ladder, not at the side but at the end, so that my cousin had to climb over the head board to get into her top bunk. If, because of age or infirmity, you cannot possibly sleep in a top bunk and you can not arrange with the obdurate Oxford booking staff to be sure of a bottom bunk, it really is unfair to coerce other seniors in your dorm to give up their bottom bunk for you, as happened when my cousin was obliged to give up the bottom bunk that was assigned to her.
The gossip among us seniors in the sanctuary of the library was that those staying several nights get asigned top bunks while those who are only in for one night get the bottom bunks, as it's easier for staff to change the linen on bottom bunks. Staff might deny this but it was so very annoying for us looking down from almost ceiling height to see a succession of single, young, fit, one-nighters luxuriating in the double bottom bunk. Appeals to reception to swap were firmly turned down because we "had already used the sheets on our top bunks".
It was worth paying extra for the good breakfasts served by the friendly catering staff.
Next time I'm in Oxford I'll stay elsewhere.
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- Also Known As:
- Yha Oxford Hotel Oxford