Explore Hostel in Negombo is taking reservations for a closed hostel at the moment.

Explore Hostel in Negombo is taking reservations for a closed hostel at the moment.

I used to stay at Explore hostel in Negombo, Sri Lanka, fairly often. It was one of my favourite places to stay in Sri Lanka. This is not the case any longer. And i highly recommend NOT to make a booking there.

Explore hostel in Negombo used to be my favourite little hide away between tour guiding jobs in Sri Lanka. It’s located in Negombo, right next to the airport. But it’s away from the busy touristy area and situated right by a little fisherman’s beach at the end of town. The general manager there was highly cultivated guy, who was very service minded. Working in the service industry myself, I really appreciate when I come across people who know this trade to perfection. And this guy surely did. Explore hotel was both a hostel and a guest house. I would always have my own private room, as i am getting too old for dormitories. And the private rooms at Explore hostel were really nice.

My former review of the place.

My former review of the place.

So I was really looking forward to staying there again a few days ago. I booked a private room on booking.com and packed my bike. Just as I was about to close my laptop I saw a notice in my booking that the reception was only open 2 hours a day. From 14:00 to 16:00. That was very surprising to me as the general manager used to live on the premises and keep the place open 24/7. I phones the place right away, but my call was not answered. And my booking was non refundable.


I jumped on my bike quickly and cycled to Negombo. I arrived to the gate of the hostel at 16:04 and the gate was closed. And it was closed with a padlock on the outside of the building, so there was clearly no one inside the hostel. Again I tried to phone them. And again there was no answer. I also mailed them, asking them to contact me right away.

I took my bike and cycled to a coffee shop with good wifi. There I sat down for the next 3 hours wit my laptop open. That way I would be aware right away if they tried to contact me. After 3 hours I cycled back to Explore hostel again, but the gate was still shut from the outside. I peeped over the wall and the entire building seemed to have been shut for a while.

But Explore Hostel is still accepting online bookings.

I went back to the coffee shop and booked another place on booking.com. Went there and checked in. Absolutely brilliant place by the way. Run by a very genuinely friendly family. 

I send a message to booking.com that I had been having this issue and asked for help, since I could not cancel the booking. It was a non refundable booking. Not that the money was such a big issue. But I really don’t want to put money in to the pocket of people who rip me off. So I was doing it mostly for the principle. And also because I wanted to report the place to booking.com. booking.com is a company I have used many times over the years and their support has always been brilliant. And it was the same this time. I was quickly contacted by mail by booking.com and asked for a few details. The next day, one of their employees phoned me and told me that I would not have to pay anything. And they offered me a little discount for my next booking with them. Absolutely brilliant service once again from booking.com.

I better mention here that I do not earn any commissions on my blog from booking.com. So I’m not being paid to praise them.

I also cycled down to Explore hostel one more time the next day. This time between 14:00 and 16:00 when they claimed to have staff there. But the place was still bolted up and showed no sign of having been used for quite a while.

So my conclusion is that the hostel does not really exist anymore. But the owner of the place is just trying to milk the fat money cow by taking reservations that he does not honor. This scam is of course not going to last long. But let it not be you who get scammed by this dishonest hostel owner.

Done with my ranting this time.

Now back to the fun parts of traveling :-).


  1. Wow.. that was a close one… hopefully they remove it from booking soon.

  2. Elaine Masters

    What a crappy experience. Glad you found another option. Hope nothing untoward happened to the guy with the great service.

  3. Feel bad for what you have experienced.

  4. This must be very disappointing

  5. Hello, sorry to hear about your bad experience at EH. I used to handle the online booking and social media marketing for the property from July 2016 to Jan 2018.

    I still work closely with Dimitri (founder) to this date on some other projects, and we are saddened with the current state of the property. Was pleased that you were repeat customer in the early months and we did have some memorable experiences operating the business before selling it to the new owners in February 2018. Krish (the former property manager was an amazing all-rounder and we surely miss having him take care of guest. Good luck with your tour operator consultancy and happy travels. *Alex

  6. Good info, Claus, thanks.

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