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[Disappointed] Pil Pil Hostel: Worst Hospitality Manner

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Camino(s) past & future
Will do the camino del norte in May vía camino primitivo
#1
I came to Bilbao as a pilgrim, I started the Camino de Santiago in Bilbao and my return flight to my country was departing from Bilbao, too. And this hostel (Pil Pil Hostel Bilbao) is listed on the private albergue for the camino so I made a reservation here (a 12-bed dorm room).

FYI, I'm working in hospitality area in Australia and I am "amazed" at how the staff (only one male staff) treated me. If I do to my guests what he did to me, I would be fired by my boss. I'm serious. Not only is he rude, but also mean. Horrible man. I had 3 horrible experiences in here.

1. I arrived before check in time. I know the rules that the bed wasn't ready and all I can do was to drop my luggage. I asked if I could use the toilet. He said, "Be careful, because I just cleaned it." WAO! Is he saying that I would make the toilet dirty after one pee?? What kind of person said that?? Was he reluctant to let me use the toilet because I haven't checked in?? Or is it because I wore hiking boots (like every pilgrim does) and he was afraid that I will make the floor dirty?? I won't even say that sentence to any guests who come to my house!

2. After I used the toilet, I sat on the sofa in the common area. He suddenly approached me and said, "You have to go, because the common area is closed." WAO! I didn't see any sign that it's closed! According to my understanding, if a guest is coming before check-in time, he/she can't use the room but is welcome to use the facilities. And he was telling me TO LEAVE. It was an imperative sentence! I already felt like I wasn't welcome. I didn't feel the atmosphere of the hospitality. I mean, I did nothing but sitting! I didn't turn on the TV, I didn't fart, I didn't use the power socket, I didn't even take water from the tap! And that guy kicked me out from the hostel and asked me to return after 1pm. I honestly cannot understand why the common area is closed. Is it closed for an outsider like me, because I haven't officially checked in? Is it also closed for other guests who have stayed there? Would my appearance in the common area make a bad impression for other guests? I wanted to look for another accommodation but I can't get my money back if I cancel it (a decision I regret later). So I did what he asked: I put what I need in my small bag and leave my backpack at the receptionist. What's worse, he stood in front of me, watching me, while I was organizingy small bag, to make sure that I would leave. I felt like I was a prisoner as he monitored every movement I made. I am hurt by his attitude. I felt rejected.

3. It was past midnight and I went to the toilet (which is located outside the room) as my phone rang and I answered the incoming call. I brought my phone to the toilet and later sat in the kitchen to talk to my partner over the phone. He came to me, "Excuse me. You're not allowed to talk in here. You can go outside the building or hung up." WAO! It's you again! And with your incredible rude, brutal, and mean attitude! Since when a hotel staff TELL YOU what to do and what not to do? I started to feel that THIS IS a prison. I told him that I'd keep my voice down. But he didn't want to listen, "It's past midnight so you can't talk in here." SINCE WHEN? I didn't talk loudly, I didn't laugh, I didn't scream, and I wasn't even in the room (to disturb other guests). At that time, I wanted to check out and leave. I had to say goodbye to my partner over the phone and hung up (because I will not obey his order to go out from the building, which I think is more ridiculous). Are you saying that the walls are so thin so everyone in the bedroom could hear every words I said in the kitchen?? Maybe the wall IS thin, because at the time I wrote this (it's 02.30am), I could hear him coughing and using the microwave in the kitchen! Maybe I should shush him for making noises! I wanted to cry, not because I was sad, but because I felt I was bullied, not respected, and angry.

I cannot tolerate what he did to me. That's not how you treat people, especially guests. The most important thing in hospitality industry is to be nice, friendly, smiling, interact politely with the guests, and have a good manner which can make people feel welcomed, safe, and have a good time. That's why it is called HOSPITALITY. I don't know who the staff is, but he represents the whole property. He does not even smile. He was mean. I call it bullying. I don't care if he's the owner or someone special, but THAT'S NOT HOW YOU TREAT PEOPLE. I'm really serious. I'm disappointed. Sorry, I'm not disappointed, I'm angry.
 

Anamiri

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
#2
Hopefully your experience will improve. I had good experiences in most of our accommodation. Most were welcoming and helpful.
 

miffy

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese 2018
#3
I'm probably one of the noisiest people out there, but in this case, I think you should respect the rules of the hostel.
No check in till check-in time and no talking after lights out. I think the rules are fair and if I was that guy, I would want some space to clean and just be on my own for a bit, before everyone comes in at 1.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Will do the camino del norte in May vía camino primitivo
#4
I'm probably one of the noisiest people out there, but in this case, I think you should respect the rules of the hostel.
No check in till check-in time and no talking after lights out. I think the rules are fair and if I was that guy, I would want some space to clean and just be on my own for a bit, before everyone comes in at 1.
Oh I do respect the rules, that's why I obeyed what he said. But rules are different from manner. And I'm criticizing that one guy's manner. Plus, I wasn't even talking over the phone, I was WHISPERING, and it was in the kitchen. I doubt anyone was disturbed by my voice. I also didn't force to check in before the check in time, I just wanted to sit. The way he talked to me, is like I was being treated as a second citizen.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Will do the camino del norte in May vía camino primitivo
#5
Hopefully your experience will improve. I had good experiences in most of our accommodation. Most were welcoming and helpful.
All of my other experiences in municipal and private albergue are nice, except for this one.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#8
I came to Bilbao as a pilgrim, I started the Camino de Santiago in Bilbao and my return flight to my country was departing from Bilbao, too. And this hostel (Pil Pil Hostel Bilbao) is listed on the private albergue for the camino so I made a reservation here (a 12-bed dorm room).

FYI, I'm working in hospitality area in Australia and I am "amazed" at how the staff (only one male staff) treated me. If I do to my guests what he did to me, I would be fired by my boss. I'm serious. Not only is he rude, but also mean. Horrible man. I had 3 horrible experiences in here.

1. I arrived before check in time. I know the rules that the bed wasn't ready and all I can do was to drop my luggage. I asked if I could use the toilet. He said, "Be careful, because I just cleaned it." WAO! Is he saying that I would make the toilet dirty after one pee?? What kind of person said that?? Was he reluctant to let me use the toilet because I haven't checked in?? Or is it because I wore hiking boots (like every pilgrim does) and he was afraid that I will make the floor dirty?? I won't even say that sentence to any guests who come to my house!

2. After I used the toilet, I sat on the sofa in the common area. He suddenly approached me and said, "You have to go, because the common area is closed." WAO! I didn't see any sign that it's closed! According to my understanding, if a guest is coming before check-in time, he/she can't use the room but is welcome to use the facilities. And he was telling me TO LEAVE. It was an imperative sentence! I already felt like I wasn't welcome. I didn't feel the atmosphere of the hospitality. I mean, I did nothing but sitting! I didn't turn on the TV, I didn't fart, I didn't use the power socket, I didn't even take water from the tap! And that guy kicked me out from the hostel and asked me to return after 1pm. I honestly cannot understand why the common area is closed. Is it closed for an outsider like me, because I haven't officially checked in? Is it also closed for other guests who have stayed there? Would my appearance in the common area make a bad impression for other guests? I wanted to look for another accommodation but I can't get my money back if I cancel it (a decision I regret later). So I did what he asked: I put what I need in my small bag and leave my backpack at the receptionist. What's worse, he stood in front of me, watching me, while I was organizingy small bag, to make sure that I would leave. I felt like I was a prisoner as he monitored every movement I made. I am hurt by his attitude. I felt rejected.

3. It was past midnight and I went to the toilet (which is located outside the room) as my phone rang and I answered the incoming call. I brought my phone to the toilet and later sat in the kitchen to talk to my partner over the phone. He came to me, "Excuse me. You're not allowed to talk in here. You can go outside the building or hung up." WAO! It's you again! And with your incredible rude, brutal, and mean attitude! Since when a hotel staff TELL YOU what to do and what not to do? I started to feel that THIS IS a prison. I told him that I'd keep my voice down. But he didn't want to listen, "It's past midnight so you can't talk in here." SINCE WHEN? I didn't talk loudly, I didn't laugh, I didn't scream, and I wasn't even in the room (to disturb other guests). At that time, I wanted to check out and leave. I had to say goodbye to my partner over the phone and hung up (because I will not obey his order to go out from the building, which I think is more ridiculous). Are you saying that the walls are so thin so everyone in the bedroom could hear every words I said in the kitchen?? Maybe the wall IS thin, because at the time I wrote this (it's 02.30am), I could hear him coughing and using the microwave in the kitchen! Maybe I should shush him for making noises! I wanted to cry, not because I was sad, but because I felt I was bullied, not respected, and angry.

I cannot tolerate what he did to me. That's not how you treat people, especially guests. The most important thing in hospitality industry is to be nice, friendly, smiling, interact politely with the guests, and have a good manner which can make people feel welcomed, safe, and have a good time. That's why it is called HOSPITALITY. I don't know who the staff is, but he represents the whole property. He does not even smile. He was mean. I call it bullying. I don't care if he's the owner or someone special, but THAT'S NOT HOW YOU TREAT PEOPLE. I'm really serious. I'm disappointed. Sorry, I'm not disappointed, I'm angry.
The thing that I am concerned about with your OP is the effect it is having on you. I do hope you can let this go for your sake. A Camino is quite different than other kinds of trips because many look to the walk as a method of dealing with turmoil and spiritual crises or just needing a prolonged period of personal reflection on life ahead. It would be sad to think that this experience overshadows everything else you may have experienced.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#10
@Priskalista I'm completely understanding of how upsetting your found your treatment - it is hurtful and humiliating - but also because it was your first day and you had not yet picked up the "culture" of the Camino. I'm wondering if it would have happened if you had some other experienced pilgrim to welcome you and show you the ropes, and maybe share a laugh with you about this person. I have certainly come across some "Faulty Towers" characters in albergues, one just recently on the Via de la Plata. His lack of manners made a great story afterwards and gave all us pilgrims a huge laugh. I hope that in time you are able to turn your story around to one that amuses rather than enrages you.

We do need to be understanding that hospitaleros are human and often put up with a lot and are overworked. There is a difference between low cost backpacker style hostels providing for tourists, such as we have in Australia, and albergue accommodation geared towards pilgrims. I'm sure you would have sensed that after walking the Norte. Private albergue accommodation is run with minimum labour. Either the owner runs it, or one person is employed. So often that one person does all the work, for the whole time. Almost without exception everyone is meant to be out of the building (completely out of the building) between 8am and when the albergue re-opens at 2 or 3pm. In fact I cannot think of an instance when I have been in an albergue during that time. The albergue is cleaned from top to bottom by that one person, who then has a few hours off duty, before coming back on duty and remaining on duty until lights off. I've found they are also usually on site during the night, and may be called on to do any number of other jobs to assist pilgrims. In albergues run by voluntary labour there will often be two hospitaleros to share the work, and as they are only at the albergue for two week stints, they can be expected to be more forbearing.

In contrast to albergues, tourist back-packer hostels are run on more commercial lines and anticipate and expect that common areas will be used during the day. They can probably afford more staff. I'm just thinking of the cost of accommodation in Australian backpacker hostels (I've just looked up Sydney, nothing available under $80! - and Newcastle, a city the same size as Bilbao, nothing available under $40. Compare that with what you paid in Bilbao).

Albergues are run with the needs of pilgrims in mind, and that means complete silence after lights out at 10pm because pilgrims generally are very tired after a day's walking and will be up early the following day. Everyone is expected to be in bed, unless making a "necessary" trip to the toilet.

This is in contrast to hostels who cater for a different crowd - often party-going revellers who may arrive late, talk late, socialise late. You will find on this forum unfavourable comments about those types of hostels (I'm thinking Sevilla) and that there is universal disapproval of anyone who makes noise during the night. So those who run the albergues are under pressure to strictly enforce the "silence" rules.

I'm glad that your other experiences in albergues were positive and hope that you put this one behind you, and go on to enjoy many more caminos.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#11
@Priskalista I'm completely understanding of how upsetting your found your treatment - it is hurtful and humiliating - but also because it was your first day and you had not yet picked up the "culture" of the Camino. I'm wondering if it would have happened if you had some other experienced pilgrim to welcome you and show you the ropes, and maybe share a laugh with you about this person. I have certainly come across some "Faulty Towers" characters in albergues, one just recently on the Via de la Plata. His lack of manners made a great story afterwards and gave all us pilgrims a huge laugh. I hope that in time you are able to turn your story around to one that amuses rather than enrages you.

We do need to be understanding that hospitaleros are human and often put up with a lot and are overworked. There is a difference between low cost backpacker style hostels providing for tourists, such as we have in Australia, and albergue accommodation geared towards pilgrims. I'm sure you would have sensed that after walking the Norte. Private albergue accommodation is run with minimum labour. Either the owner runs it, or one person is employed. So often that one person does all the work, for the whole time. Almost without exception everyone is meant to be out of the building (completely out of the building) between 8am and when the albergue re-opens at 2 or 3pm. In fact I cannot think of an instance when I have been in an albergue during that time. The albergue is cleaned from top to bottom by that one person, who then has a few hours off duty, before coming back on duty and remaining on duty until lights off. I've found they are also usually on site during the night, and may be called on to do any number of other jobs to assist pilgrims. In albergues run by voluntary labour there will often be two hospitaleros to share the work, and as they are only at the albergue for two week stints, they can be expected to be more forbearing.

In contrast to albergues, tourist back-packer hostels are run on more commercial lines and anticipate and expect that common areas will be used during the day. They can probably afford more staff. I'm just thinking of the cost of accommodation in Australian backpacker hostels (I've just looked up Sydney, nothing available under $80! - and Newcastle, a city the same size as Bilbao, nothing available under $40. Compare that with what you paid in Bilbao).

Albergues are run with the needs of pilgrims in mind, and that means complete silence after lights out at 10pm because pilgrims generally are very tired after a day's walking and will be up early the following day. Everyone is expected to be in bed, unless making a "necessary" trip to the toilet.

This is in contrast to hostels who cater for a different crowd - often party-going revellers who may arrive late, talk late, socialise late. You will find on this forum unfavourable comments about those types of hostels (I'm thinking Sevilla) and that there is universal disapproval of anyone who makes noise during the night. So those who run the albergues are under pressure to strictly enforce the "silence" rules.

I'm glad that your other experiences in albergues were positive and hope that you put this one behind you, and go on to enjoy many more caminos.
This post deserves more than a "like" :) It was very well thought out and well written. Thank you.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF Sept/Oct 2013
CF April/May 2016
#12
I recall getting scolded a couple of times by different hospitaleros who were speaking to me in Spanish and although I don't speak the language I knew I had stepped outside the rules somehow.

One time I transferred my bag to an alburgue I was intending on staying at but when I arrived in Fromesta I decided to get a private room at another hotel due to illness and injury. When I went to go pick up my bag, oh did I get an ear full. Not sure why but I kept nodding my head and saying gracias, gracias. Then I ran for my life. :) Haha!

Another time was in Bolorado where I had my bag transferred. I had met up with some pilgrim friends on the way who wanted me to walk further on with them. We stopped at the alburgue before opening time. I knocked on the door to ask if bag transfer had come yet. The lady who answered Oh....I got scolded for disturbing them and knocking on the door before the alburgue opened. :) Needless to say my bag hadn't arrived so we waited.

Perigreengo's (like I was) don't understand the Camino is a completely different culture then anything, anywhere with rules and regimen. It doesn't take long to catch on and to enjoy the simple life with every step. Peace be with you and God Bless.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 will be Camino #14.
#13
Frankly, I agree with everything the hospitalero said and did. And talking on your phone in the middle of the night is particularly insidious as it keeps the rest of the pilgrims awake.

Obey the rules or get a private room :::shrug::: and even then, there is a time before which you are not allowed to enter.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#14
Erm ... did anyone actually look up the Pil Pil hostal in Bilbao? The fact that it’s on some “Camino list” doesn’t make it a pilgrim’s albergue. It appears to be a backpacker’s hostel that doesn’t cater specifically for pilgrims.

PS:
In fact, when you go to their reservation page, you see the following tags: #MUSEOGUGGENHEIM #PLAYA #SURF #MONTAÑA #PINTXOS #ERASMUS #TXIKITOS #ATHLETIC #BEC #OPERA #BALONCESTO #COMERBIEN #RIA #ARQUITECTURA #KALIMOTXO #CASCOVIEJO #SANMAMES #CONCIERTOS #FIESTASPOPULARES #MERCADOS #BASKET #MARATHON #METRO #TXAKOLI #FUTBOL #BEC #PILPIL.

Camino or pilgrimage doesn't even seem to be on their radar :cool:. They charge 20 € for a bed in a 12 person dorm or 55 € for a room.

PPS:
Correction: On one of their pages, they actually market themselves also as a "best pilgrims hostal - right on the way and next to the bus station - bicycle parking". In this context, they also point out that pilgrims can park their motorcycle there.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#15
Oh I do respect the rules, that's why I obeyed what he said. But rules are different from manner. And I'm criticizing that one guy's manner. Plus, I wasn't even talking over the phone, I was WHISPERING, and it was in the kitchen. I doubt anyone was disturbed by my voice. I also didn't force to check in before the check in time, I just wanted to sit. The way he talked to me, is like I was being treated as a second citizen.
Follow the advice given earlier and put it behind you. I had a look at the comments page on Booking.com, including replies from the hostal to some comments. Most of them quite positive, actually. I think you misinterpreted the hostal's house rule. When their common area is closed (00:00-5:00 and and before and after check-in/check-out), it is closed to everyone. Even to persons who whisper or want to sit quietly.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: SJPdP -> Fisterra, (sep 26- oct 18, 2017)
#16
I agree with the others that this is likely a case of you not doing your homework and going into the camino with a set of unrealistic expectations of “the customer is always right”. There are certain simple rules shared amongst almost all the alburgues and they are stictly enforced - which is for the benefit of all pilgrims, even if it might seem like a pain at certain points. A lot of alburgues will not even let you in the door before open hours. You can properly blame the strict enforcement on experience of what happens if they bend the rules just a bit for some people.

A lot of people come “unprepared”, but most people quickly adapt - I hope that you are able to do the same for the sake of your camino. In the end you will likely find the staff of most alburgues to be extremely helpful (if you follow their simple rules).
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#17
And this hostel (Pil Pil Hostel Bilbao) is listed on the private albergue for the camino
It is not listed as an albergue on the three major websites I use for research, Gronze, Mundicamino, and Eroski. It is on booking.com, where you have to go to page 8 of 12 when the listings are sorted by customer rating. Fifty-eight of 895 reviews list it as poor or very poor, so you are not alone in your opinion. It is my experience with booking.com that customers go out of their way to inflate their ratings because they do not want to damage a place's reputation unless the experience has been pretty bad. The overall 7.7 rating would stop me from going there.

There is a limit on how much research one can do while on the trail, and it is not obvious how a particular desk clerk can be researched with any degree of precision. There are seven hostels in Bilbao with booking.com ratings over 8.5 that are less than 20E per night. I stayed in the Poshtel (8.7 rating with 550 Awesome ratings) for 17E in January. I hope you can end up in accommodations like those the next time you book.

I would simply write off Pil Pil as a learning experience, and move on.:)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, fall of 2015
#18
The rules of this albergue sound fair enough, but as they say, it's not what someone is saying, but rather how they are saying it. Maybe this fellow was having a bad day, or may he is the only one running the joint, so I can understand the need to have the place cleared out to ready it before the next herd comes through. I hope your experiences improve, but I will say that one of the beauties of the Camino are the varied experiences you will have - both good and bad. We had some awful experiences too, but I was just so gosh darned happy to be there, I let them roll off my back and didn't care!! Lol.

Buen Camino!!
 

DebR

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances:
2013; 2014; 2015; 2017; 2018 (October)
#19
This post deserves more than a "like" :) It was very well thought out and well written. Thank you.
Well said, Kanga.
I often think of the enormity of th job facing hospitalero a, day in and day out, of its relentlessness and of how it must feel to meet amazing people every day...and then see them go with the dawn. I am in awe of the way they support those of us who walk, and although they all have their moments, part of the pilgrimage is to roll with these minor hurdles...
 
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