Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Rip-Off Hostels in Damascus

                                If breakfast is provided by your Syrian hostel, this is what you'll usually get.

When Aud and I were researching for our trip to Syria, we emailed a couple of backpackers hostel in Damascus to ask for room rates.

We emailed Al-Rabie, Ghazal Hotel and Al-Haramain which are all recommended by Lonely Planet and/or Wikitravel under "Budget Accommodation".

However when they replied our emails, their rates didn't seem like budget rates to me.

All of these hostels replied that their dorms were full and suggested we take the rooms for obvious reasons. I thought this was all utter BS, and true enough, the room rates were sky high. For example, at the time of enquiry, Al-Haramain's rates were USD100/pax/night and Ghazal Hotel was 1,500 Syrian Pounds for a double room, wth!

When we were lamenting that accommodation in Syria was gonna cause our budget to blow, Aud found this blog entry that confirmed these hostels were just trying to rip us off.

According to the blogger, Al-Rabie, Ghazal Hotel and Al-Haramain in Damascus have fixed their prices to double of what's written in Lonely Planet. So the writer has warned all other travellers to stay clear from these rip-off hostels.

After reading that blog, we decided to go "Kamikaze", i.e. walk-in randomly to any hostel when we got there.

And to the delight of our pockets, we found many hostels that charged 900 Syrian Pounds (SYP) for a double room with bathroom ensuite. We even managed to bargain the rates down to 800 SYP, which is 400 SYP only per person. Our pockets were certainly screaming in delight!

In my next entry I'll tell you more about the hotels which we stayed in in Damascus and Aleppo.

So the moral of this story is the information in Lonely Planet and Wikitravel is not the gospel truth - the internet is, especially travel blogs written by fellow travellers.

I don't want to speculate whether those rip-off hostels in Damascus paid Lonely Planet to get featured in it. If they did, then Lonely Planet should do the most honourable thing and close shop.


khengsiong said...

My old Lonely Planet for Thailand, written by the "legendary" Joe Cummings, lists about a dozen hotels/guesthouses in Hat Yai. The newest edition, written by somebody else, lists only 3. Wondering how they pick these 3...

Julie Lim said...


You guess is as good as mine! Let's just say that ultimately, money talks and bullshit walks.

Jaz said...

Not all hostels have good accommodations. Better research first the hostel you want to stay in.

Cusco Hostels

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