This review is the first I’ve ever written about an accommodation, and it describes the only negative experience I’ve had staying anywhere recommended by the Let’s Go guidebooks. However, my two-day stay was so poor at Kauai Beach House in Hawaii that I write to warn any other Let’s Go users, or anyone else, to approach this place with caution.
In the way of background, I am a well-traveled university woman professor who is flexible about accommodations. I’ve stayed everywhere from 5-star hotels to bed and breakfasts to campgrounds to cots in a third world country during a war. My favorite vacation is camping, so roughing it, cold showers, or lack of amenities are not a problem for me. Also, for many years I have taken university students on extended travel experiences, so am easy-going about high-spirited behavior and am comfortable with reasonable excesses of college-aged people.
Not only was the Kauai Beach House well recommended by Let’s Go and inexpensive, but I also have had many positive beach hostel experiences in the past at the wonderful Point Reyes Hostel in California, one of my favorite places to stay. I highly recommend that hostel for simple, clean, well-run accommodations and an amazingly friendly, responsible staff.
My experience at Kauai Beach House is that it is a poorly run hostel whose staff and owner do not have sincere concern for the welfare of their guests. Also, it seems to allow drunkenness, smoking, and poor treatment of others.
At the hostel a large chalkboard instructs people that the kitchen closes and lights are out at in the sleeping spaces at 9:30 p.m. The hostel has another area where people can stay up late. My first night, a Friday, was peaceful. My second night, a Saturday, was difficult. At 9:01 p.m. three people started to drink rum in the balcony area immediately adjacent to the sleeping room where I was. The sliding glass door doesn’t open and close properly and the slatted moveable windows are broken or missing, so they were basically in the space with me. The lights in the sleeping space were on, as well as those in the kitchen. 9:30 came and went and no staff arrived to move the people off the deck to the late night room.
Sometime between 9:30 and 10:20, the group moved into the sleeping space. They were loud and obnoxious. For instance one man who on the deck said how much he enjoyed using the word “copulate,” exclaimed how good a woman smelled and then asked permission to sniff her. That same man suggested how much fun it would be to get a number of people get into one bed in that area for the night. Their loud, drunk, and inane conversations continued with no intervention by the staff. Then the people moved to the kitchen where one of them said how much fun she was having spitting orange juice at others. There is an open space between the kitchen and the sleeping area, so what happens in one room happens in the other.
At 10:21 I asked the rowdy people to be quiet and turn out the lights, reminding them that the lights out was at 9:30. One of the people was argumentative and said that they had until 10. I reminded them what was written on the chalkboard and also that it was now 10:21. One of them laughed and said that she guessed that no one was in charge, then turned out the lights in the sleeping space. The group made more noise in the kitchen and then moved on.
In the early morning, I told the on-site manager what had happened, and she said that she had not been there on Saturday night and was sorry about the commotion. She then said that despite the 9:30 official written lights out policy, lights out was actually at 10 p.m.
I decided later in the morning that I did not want to stay in a place where there was unreliable night supervision and where I had to inform drunk people about contradictory rules. When I tried to talk to the manager about 9:30 a.m., a resident informed me that she had gone shopping. I returned about noon to ask for the refund. The owner via cell phone refused to refund $90.00 for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday stays. We had the option of paying by the night or in advance, and I had paid $150.00 cash for five nights.
The owner was unhelpful, as was the manager. I pointed out that they were responsible to supervise at night, and that they had not done their part, so my request for a refund was reasonable. The money wasn’t the point with me. The principle of their duty to guests seemed significant.
Also, during the telephone conversation with the owner, the manager maintained that she had been there on Saturday night, when she had told me that she had not been there at the time of the incident. She then told me that the behavior I described was typical of the hostel on a holiday weekend and tolerated by the management.
In addition to the Saturday disruption, the kitchen area was remarkably dirty. Friday evening, Saturday morning, Saturday evening, and Sunday morning the table and counter space were littered with food residue and the sink and/or the stove were full of dirty dishes. The area was so grungy I could not make myself cook. The refrigerator was chaotically and fully packed. Much of the food smelled as if it were old. That refrigerator was simply disgusting. Also, people just left dishes and empty bottles around the hostel.
Unusual behavior seemed to be tolerated in the shared kitchen area. For instance, on Sunday morning, when the manager was present at the hostel, at the only kitchen table, a man and woman were wrapped around each other in passionate embrace on one chair with their music playing loudly. If a person wanted to prepare food in the kitchen area, they would have to work around the couple.
Also of interest is that several people at the hostel were arguing about one or more of them stealing food from each other. Another guest discussed this matter with me. Some of the people seemed really hungry and one long-term unemployed resident shared with me that he was so hungry that at times he had to fish to eat.
The sleeping space where I was staying was overflowing with people’s stuff, guests dropped wet towels wherever they pleased in the hostel, and there seemed to be no general sense of order in the place. One odd design feature is that the main entrance off the parking lot is through a sleeping room, providing no privacy for the people in that space at all. Also, that room has windows always open to a public bike and footpath parallel to a busy main road. As far as I know, the exterior door that leads to that sleeping space and then into the main hostel is never locked.
Also, the upstairs bunk bed sleeping space does not seem safe by normal fire safety standards. If a fire broke out in the kitchen, up to sixteen people would have to exit through a sliding glass door that is difficult to move at all and does not open fully.
The hostel has a smoking area in a central lounge, one that guests have to walk through in order to hang up their wet towels and clothing on the clotheslines. That space is not enclosed or isolated from non-smoking areas. People also smoked on the downstairs porch facing the ocean, the main entrance to the hostel with windows opening to a sleeping room. Guests at this hostel needed to be prepared to inhale unhealthy smoke during their stay.
On Friday two people seemed to be discussing drugs on the downstairs ocean porch, one assuring the others that he had his stash in his bunk. The manager dismissed my concern entirely and supposed the people were passing by and just happened to be on the porch
When I put my experience of Kauai Beach House next to my many experiences at Point Reyes, the Kauai place doesn’t even get to zero on a scale of four. For those of you used to decent beach hostel standards such as Point Reyes, I suggest you stay away from Kauai Beach House. It is the only accommodation I have ever walked away from in the middle of a stay, and it is one I will never revisit.
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- Also Known As:
- Kauai Beach House Hotel Kapaa
- Kauai Beach House Kapaa