Working in a Spanish hostal

I’m not exactly sure what happened to July, but here we are in August: the month in Spain when everyone goes on vacation at the same time, when Madrid reaches temps in the low 100s, and I wish I were closer to a beach. Also, businesses literally close for the whole month so everyone can vacation. This is Spain.

2016-08-18 13.00.55
“Happy summer! We’ll return on August 29th”

For the last 2 weeks in July, I worked at a hostal while Diego’s parents took a much deserved vacation. Plus I’m always looking for ways to make money here since I don’t have a steady job. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, but of course a few surprises and challenges arose.

So what did I do, exactly?  Well the hostal has 12 guest rooms and a residence with a kitchen. Occupancy fluctuates, but we kept busy and therefore had a bunch of rooms to clean. That’s right, we are the front desk, phone answerers, housekeeping, laundry team, ironers, customer service, and repairs. What’s the worst thing I found? Nothing too bad, actually. I would say the worst was the amount of hair to clean up. I know I shed but I don’t feel so bad anymore after seeing how much hair some people lose in 24 hours.

Another fun thing about living at the hostal is that you get to respond to questions and concerns at all hours of the day or night. Outside the building is a button that peoole can push that calls up to the hostal in a ring that makes you jump out of your chair. It turns on a video feed that allows you to see who you are talking to. I was surprised at just how many people will walk around asking for a room for the night. Getting these calls once I had already gone to bed in my pj’s was annoying, yet I didn’t want to turn off the bell in fear of losing out on profits. Let me tell you, that is the fastest I’ve ever put on a bra (although I didn’t make time for putting shoes on). I loved the look on people’s faces when they walked into the door expecting a Spaniard and being greeted by a super American girl with an accent and a tank top with “this is how I roll” written in English.

Said tank top, with a very much missed pup!

The best part for me was a chance to practice spanish with people who didn’t have any mercy on me. I conversed with Spaniards, Italians, Brazilians, Romanians, Portuguese, and Mexicans. Yeah I made mistakes, but all things considered I think I did a good job. Most importantly, Diego let me do it by myself so I learned a lot.

Mitzy enjoyed seeing people come and go, but was not happy that she wasn’t allowed to greet them personally. She would frequently cry at the door in protest. One time she decided to break the rules and say hello, only to find out that one girl in the group was deathly afraid of dogs. The girl ran outside and refused to come back until I promised that Mitzy was secured in our living quarters. Mitzy got lots of walks and treats as Diego cooked 2 meals a day (he always gives her food as he cooks).

2016-07-28 19.19.09
Mitzy working hard

Out of everything that happened in those 2 weeks, the worst thing that happened actually had nothing to do with hostal work at all. I got some really bad food poisoning or gastroenteritis from a local bar (that I will never return to). My body woke me up at 2 am to start expelling everything inside in any way possible. I’m kind of weird because I never vomit, in fact I hadn’t vomited since I was a kid. Until that night. It came in full force and scared the shit out of me…literally. Okay I’ll spare getting more graphic but it was absolutely horrible. Every 20 minutes on the clock for the first 6 hours. Poor Diego got woken up and sent to get me some medicine and their equivalent of gatorade. I was out of commission for 3 days and lost about 5 pounds.

Thankfully I have no accompanying photo for this.

Onto greener pastures, after the hostal work I headed up to northern Spain with a family and their kids. I’m speaking english with them and enjoying some fresh air, beach and relaxation. I have plenty to tell about that too, for the next post!


8 Comments Add yours

  1. thisisyouth says:

    fun post, i like your style 🙂


  2. andnaps says:

    Great post! Always wondered what it would be like to work in a hostel 🙂


    1. Thanks very much!


  3. Mark says:

    Glad you are feeling better now Heidi! Can’t wait to see you (soon!)


  4. Lisa Wieman says:

    What is with you and getting sick in foreign countries?! Glad you are better now. I am sure that working in the hostal was hard work. When we stayed there, everything was spotless. They were so very accommodating. Always willing to help with whatever and whenever we needed it. They take their jobs seriously and take pride in their hostals. Now you see how that was done!


    1. I’m so glad to hear it! Yes I did get to learn a lot about how it all works! And as far as me getting sick…I have no idea, maybe I’m too adventurous with the food I try?!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s