THE WORST HOSTELS IN MEXICO
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The famous engineer W. Edwards Deming once quipped, “Profit in business comes from repeat customers, customers that boast about your project or service, and that bring friends with them.” Accordingly, ask any backpacker if they have stayed in a terrible hostel, and the answer is undoubtedly YES! The internet, and more specifically Hostelworld reviews, are full of rotten, dreadful, and otherwise unpleasant experiences. I started traveling full time in August 2019. Since I hit the trail, I have stayed in probably 40 hostels (75 in my life) and encountered my share of bad ones. Many readers and travelers may not agree with my placing these specific hostels on this list, as travelers have different tastes. The circumstances surrounding each visit though were absolute deal breakers for me personally. Hence, I give you this list of the worst hostels in Mexico. This list is also fluid, so it maybe updated or added to accordingly.
Hostel Suites DF
I really wanted to like this hostel. I initially booked five days, then extended four more days. The breakfast was quite good and the girls who cook and clean the hostel are very kind. The hostel itself is also very clean. The showers leave something to be desired though, as they take a long time to get and have middling water pressure. Additionally, there are two terraces, one on the ground floor and one on the first floor, where people smoke. Because the terraces are inside the building, when the druggies and hippies bake, the smoke comes into the dorms. You also receive copious amounts of cigarette smoke into the rooms, along with the weed.
Regrettably, my last night in the hostel saw an unfortunate incident and makes Hostel Suites DF, one of the worst hostels in Mexico. I stayed in the same four-person dormitory the entire time, which usually contained at least three persons. My last night, I was alone until 9:30pm, when a grungy, dirtball checked in and came into the dorm. I had the lights out and was watching a movie. After several minutes, I realized this pervert had stripped down to expose himself, in the middle of the room (it’s not a big room).
I realize it’s 2021 and some people wouldn’t mind seeing another dude naked, but I’m old school. My primary thought was to knock him out, but it’s always a crap shoot with the Mexican Policia. I said, “dude, are you really standing in front of me naked?” The grubby hippy replied, “I don’t want to wear a genital mask.” His exact words. I went downstairs, expecting the hostel to take action and remove this scum from the room. The guy at the reception offered me a private room, but I would have to pay the difference (it’s not a matter of money, it’s the principle). He then offered me another dorm but it was a top bunk. That would not work because I had to specially request a bottom bunk due to my back (bad car accident).
The guy at the desk called the owner; his wife is the actual owner, the guy he called is the manager. That got me nowhere. I was fairly aggravated at this point; the receptionist told me, “this is what happens when you stay at a hostel.” I don’t actually agree that when you stay at a hostel, you are opening yourself up to a creepy, pervert exposing themselves. I couldn’t help but wonder what the hostel’s reaction would be if I was a girl. And if the reaction was different from the hostel, then the management lacks brain power.
Needless to say, I was checking out the next day, so I went to the kitchen and worked on my book all night. Do incidents like this occur often in hostels? No. When they do occur though, a customer needs said hostel to deal with the pervert in a decisive manner. I have to recommend people to stay far from Hostel Suites DF.
Hostel Hospedarte Centro
Ultimately, I stayed at Hostel Hospedarte Centro for 13 days, leaving one day early to switch to a room at the Doubletree in Guadalajara Centro. The first week was mostly quiet and uneventful, while I explored Guadalajara. I renewed for a second week on Orbitz. Right when the second week started, the hostel seemed to go crazy. A girl arrived before the end of my first week and several days later tested positive for Covid-19. Hostel Hospedarte does not practice social distancing in the dormitories; I asked one of the staff, Checo, if they had told the other guests in the dorm that a fellow guest had Covid and he said no, it would cause chaos.
Strike one, It's absolutely unconscionable to subject other guests to such a health risk without their knowledge. Strike two; on multiple occasions people were smoking weed inside the living room of the hostel. I don't really care if people smoke or not, but no one should be forced to have to smell it, especially since I hate any kind of smoke. Strike three; there was an older guy that came and hung out at the hostel all the time but wasn't a guest. He stated that the owner had kicked him out because he was epileptic. It wasn’t long before the poor man had a seizure in the kitchen. The seizure could be described as tonic-clonic, which means it goes on for a lengthy period of time. Such a seizure can cause permanent damage. The hostel failed to call an ambulance and continued to let this guy hang out in the hostel. Make your own judgments here.
El Mexa Hostel
Queretaro is the fastest growing city in Mexico, with a population over two million people. It has a La Liga football team and is considered the cradle of the independence movement in Mexico (1810). El Mexa hostel is actually situated in a fantastic location to take advantage of the history and the plethora of bars and restaurants. The location though is where it ends for me. The first major issue was the lack of social distancing by the hostel in the dorms. The manager tried to place a guest between me and another traveler, at a distance of what could only be two feet or so. The picture I used above is from the dorm I stayed in; I was in the bed on the far left, there was another American in the bed on the far right. Judge for yourself if you would be comfortable with someone in the middle bed, during October 2020, with Covid-19.
Additionally, a major safety issue in the hostel building, is that homeless people in the neighborhood pay to shower when they have enough pesos. There is also a parking lot in front of the hostel because it is across the street from the Catholic Diocese for the state of Queretaro de Santiago. There are a few guys helping park and washing cars for tips that come and go freely in the hostel. I left a review on Hostelworld after the stay, and the hostel owner or manager, not sure which one, accused me of discrimination because I commented on a legitimate safety issue. I copied their response for this post:
“The Mac Cord was for its own safety, it was visible to anyone else in the room, we tried to look after your belongings, sorry if for that. "homeless" people comment sounds more to discrimination for us rather than something else.”
Again, judge for yourself whether you would pay to stay here.
San Luis Potosi is an amazing city. It played a major role in the independence, and I arrived one day before Independence Day on September 14th. Sukha hostel is well-located near street markets, stores, and the old prison/ art museum (check it out if you're in San Luis Potosi). I checked into Sukha hostel after three months in Puerto Morelos and Playa del Carmen. When I first arrived, it seemed like a phenomenal hostel. It was very quiet my first couple days with no other guests; just myself, the manager Paco, and the two volunteers Karla and Alexa. Throughout my stay, the younger cousin of the hostel owner Alex would come to the hostel to bang local girls he would bring with him or just party if he didn’t have one to bang. Bear in mind he is not a paying guest, he would just arbitrarily show up with a female or a bunch of local guys who want to drink.
Customers are paying for security and peace while traveling; having someone who brings in multiple random characters to have sex with and party defies both those. Several nights before I switched hostels, a volunteer Karla had a friend visit who was also volunteering in Mexico. Without fail, Alex’s cousin showed up with 5 or 6 other people, who proceeded to blast music and party until 5:00am, regardless of the sleep of actual paying customers. When I was awoken at 3:30am, I spoke to the manager Paco in the common area who said he understood but did nothing to end the noise or party. I asked him for the owner Alex’s What’s App, and he said he would give it to me the next day. Of course I never received it. Alex actually showed up the day before I left, but failed to address the concerns I raised, so clearly he believes it is ok for him to run his business this way. Allowing his cousin to bring in random people to drink with and screw, while paying guests are habitating and sleeping.
I realize some backpackers and/or travelers may enjoy this type of environment, but for me, Sukha is one of the worst hostels in Mexico.
Mundo Joven originated as a travel agency 25 years ago, started by a guy named Jordi llorens. Before I get to the bad, let me say, this hostel has three good redeeming features. The first is the high quality breakfast. There is great bread, cereal, and some kind of hot offering daily, like pancakes or bacon. Secondly, it’s a superb location, right in the Zocalo. Thirdly, It’s a good price, averaging around $8.00 US a night. Sadly, for me anyway, the good does not outweigh the bad.
The first negative is that the front desk staff does not service guests equally. Some of the staff will make guests wait until 2pm exactly to check in (this guy) while others will check people in at 7am before breakfast opens and while people are sleeping. Service levels need to be the same, even in a hostel. Because the hostel is cheap and the location is perfecto, you tend to get a lot of low class people staying there. Lots of hippies, druggies, and locals looking for a place to bang their girlfriend. On more than one occasion, I was woken up by people smoking weed or cigarettes out the window of the dorm room.
Hint: it still stinks like shit. People also smoke on the terrace or rooftop, so if you have a Zocalo view, guaranteed you will have smoke drifting into your room. It’s nice the hostel has a kitchen, but it’s far too small for a hostel that has at least a couple hundred beds. The “fridge” is an old coke cooler which does a below mediocre job of cooling so don’t put anything perishable in there. The biggest negative by far though is the closing of the rooftop and the terrace on weekends.
Now, if you visit the Mundo Joven site or their profile on Hostelworld, you will see they push the fact that they have a terrace attached to the kitchen and rooftop bar. Come Friday afternoon though, hostel guests who have already paid become second class citizens. The hostel blocks access to the terrace from the kitchen and they close the rooftop bar to reservation only for people from the city. You will get to listen to the garbage techno each night until 1am though, so thats a bonus (sarcasm).
I stayed at this hostel for two weeks when I first arrived in Mexico in June 2020. The hostel IS located in a phenomenal place, near the mercado Chedraui Select, restaurants, and most importantly the beach. Essentially, I was the only traveler for most of my stay, which was nice. The hostel DOES NOT allow the air conditioning to be run during the day; remember I was in Quintana Roo in summer. The hostel is sweltering in the daytime from 6am-10pm when the AC is off. Additionally, and this borders on the weird/ creepy, most of the dormitories have cameras. Yes, in the dorms where you sleep. This issue alone, makes Cuca Macuca one of the worst hostels in Mexico.