AN AMERICAN tourist claims that she was left wearing just a coat for nearly eight hours after finding bedbugs in an Edinburgh hostel.
Julie Ping Luu says she was staying at St Christopher’s Inn Edinburgh Original near the capital’s Waverley train station last week when she was woken up by bedbugs crawling on her.
The 42-year-old claims that staff initially didn’t believe her until she pulled up a photo of the insects, after which she requested to use a washing machine to clean all her clothes.
However, marketing administrator Julie was allegedly forced to do two washes in the staff washing machine – which each took four hours to complete, leaving her with nothing but a coat for eight hours as she waited almost naked in the freezing reception room.
Julie also claims to have informed the manager of the hostel the following day, who Julie claims was “defensive” and argued that the hostel is regularly fumigated.
Despite this, Julie claimed that she was given compensation for her traumatic experience but soon moved over to a different hostel in the city.
The traumatised tourist has now taken to social media to warn others to check for bedbugs in their hostels.
She wrote in a post last week: “I just found bed bugs in my bed in my hostel in Edinburgh. I know it’s a hostel but what should I expect in terms of retribution?
“Reception was nice enough, but their response is quite unsatisfactory. Initially, they didn’t even believe me. Thank goodness in my frantic departure from the bed I took a picture.
“Their guest laundry is broken, so I am using their tiny staff washing machine. Two and a half hours to wash clothes at the highest heat setting.
“I have to do several loads because the machine is that small (and I only have a ‘personal sized’ item bag of clothes).
“They don’t have a working dryer, so I have to dry my stuff on their radiators, per their suggestion. So, my undies will be on public display.
“They definitely won’t be dry by the time I wanted to start my day. I am currently sitting in their reception area, naked except for my winter coat.
“It is the dead of winter in Edinburgh. It is now 5am. I have been dealing with this since 2am. So, no sleep, no rest as I am super anxious and upset and cold.
“They offered me a new bed but I’m not going to lay down here.
“Before anyone says that’s the risk I took because I chose to stay in a hostel, please don’t be so judgmental.
“I’ve stayed in hostels for years, and never had a problem and I’ve heard of others who have, but their hostels were very helpful.
“I love hostels. They offer a lovely community that isn’t possible with most hotels and yes, I checked the bedding before I went to sleep but I guess not close enough.”
The post received hundreds of likes and comments as many stunned travellers were shocked to hear of Julie’s ordeal.
One person wrote: “Well, this will be a great travel war story someday. Are you sure it was a bed bug and not just a bug? They are so small and hard to see.
“Anyways, I hope you got dry undies by now try to see the humour. Make sure to get a picture in your coat for proof. Hugs and love.”
Another said: “I don’t know what to expect in terms of compensation but even the nicest five-star hotels can have bed bugs, so I agree it would be stupid to judge, based on it being a hostel.”
An Edinburgh local commented: “I’m from Edinburgh. If you need help with anything then let me know.
“Bed bugs seem to be spreading like crazy around European cities – not just hostels but everywhere.”
A fourth added: “That sucks. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this and it’s not just a risk of staying in a hostel, it can happen even at fancy hotels too.
“It’s basically just the world’s crappiest travel lottery. I hope you are able to take care of this and find a good place to stay and enjoy the rest of your trip.”
Speaking to Julie today, she said: “When I planned my trip, I wasn’t sure how long I was going to stay, so I only booked for two nights there.
“When I decided to stay for a third day, it was fully booked for Wednesday, so I looked for another hostel and picked St Christopher based on location and price.
“St Christopher was disappointing. The dorm room was crowded and messy with people’s stuff and some trash littered throughout, and the bunk beds in my room were three to a bunk, with the lowest bunk placed nearly on the floor.
“I was so tired from the day’s wanderings that I just threw everything on my bunk and fell asleep.
“In retrospect, I definitely should have utilised the metal lockers they provided but as I didn’t have a lock and again, I was so tired, I just threw my clothes and bags in the foot of the bed, closed the curtains and fell asleep.
“I didn’t check my bed, which I have studiously done so since. I woke up around maybe 12am, feeling itchy, and so I jumped out of bed, paranoid because of all the stories I had heard about bed bugs in Europe.
“So then, because everyone was sleeping in the room, I used my [torch] to look around the bedding and found a huge one on the blanket.
“So, then I freaked out, threw all of my stuff into the metal locker as quick as I could, and ran to reception to tell them.
“The first guy I spoke to was not very nice. He didn’t believe me, as he said that it was impossible as they clean and fumigate.
“When I showed him the photo he and his colleague finally went up to check, and I followed so I could grab my stuff.
“They went up first, as another colleague sorted me out with another room (another dorm in the building across the street).
“I asked about washing my clothes, and they told me the hostel laundry was broken.
“I kept saying I needed to wash and dry my clothes immediately, but they said nothing was open (by this time it was maybe 1am) but that they did have a small staff washer that I could use (but no dryer).
“So, there I was, cold and naked and sleepy and tired and angry, sitting in the reception of this hostel, playing on my phone, surrounded by not very empathetic men, waiting for my clothes to wash.”
Julie claims that she then faced a gruelling wait for her clothes, saying: “After about an hour or so, I asked to check my clothes, so one of the guys took me into the room. They were still going.
“An hour later, I asked again, and it was a different guy at reception, and he was annoyed and said he wasn’t going to do this all night.
“I was so upset, I was like, ‘I just want to get my clothes so I can put another load in so I can at least have some clothes.‘
“Even though they wouldn’t be dry (they suggested I put them on the radiators in the hostel, I was shocked – fire hazard, and I didn’t want my undies all on show for everyone, but there was literally no other way to dry anything), at least I would have something.
“So, he went up with me to check, and the washer was still going. Turns out that a wash in 90 degrees in that washer requires four hours. So, I went back downstairs to wait.
“A couple hours later, back upstairs, took those clothes out, put the rest of my clothes in, (really needed a third load but I didn’t want to wait any longer), and went to the new dorm that they gave me.
“I hung my clothes on the radiators as best I could, checked my new bed for bugs. This other dorm was much nicer than the first, only two beds per bunk and the beds were much more spaced out.”
Julie continued: “Linens looked clean, so I sat down in a little bit of peace for the first time and slept uneasily for a little while, sitting straight up. I think this was about 7am now.
“I wanted to wait until 8am to speak to the manager, who I was told would come in then. My first round of clothes were dry enough by around 9am, so I could put something on.
“[The manager] was nice enough, but obviously quite defensive of her hostel, saying that they fumigate and clean regularly, and have been very much on top of things since they know about the infestation going through Europe.
“She also said that maybe they came from the hostel I was at previously, since she says they’re so on top of things here.
“I told her I doubted it, but that I would mention it to them, so they were vigilant as well.”
A spokesperson for St Christopher’s Inn Edinburgh Original said: “Ms. Luu had previously stayed in Edinburgh and joined us as part of her Edinburgh stay at the beginning of December.
“When arriving into her room she informed our reception staff that the bed she was staying in had a bed bug – this was verified by staff to be one singular bug that was likely brought into the building during the same period.
“As per our company procedure we conducted a pest control survey with a third party who found no evidence of bed bugs in our rooms.
As a gesture of good will our reception staff paid for the cream Ms. Luu purchased from the pharmacy to ensure you had a pleasant stay with us.”