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Rockaway Hostel Rents Beds With Gang Violence, Domestic Abuse Themes

By Katie Honan | May 15, 2014 7:15am
  The names of the bungalows at The Hostile Hostel are meant to "lighten the vibe."
'Gang Violence' and 'Wife Beaters' Are Inspiration for New Rockaway Hostel
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ROCKAWAY BEACH — The Plaza Hotel has the Eloise Suite and the Oak Room. A new pop-up hostel in Rockaway Beach let guests relax after a day in the sun on the "Ike Turner Bed" in the "Wife-Beater Bungalow."

The recently opened Hostile Hostel featured rooms and beds named after gangsters, drug users and domestic abusers, with a website depicting images of machine guns and planes dropping bombs.

But the room and bed names were yanked after DNAinfo inquired about them on Wednesday, with the "Whore House" becoming "The Dorm." The descriptions of the rooms were also pulled from the website, along with the machine gun background — which has been replaced by bananas. 

 Owner Laura Jones operated a pop-up hostel in Puerto Rico before coming to Rockaway, and says she isn't trying to offend anyone with the bungalow names.
Owner Laura Jones operated a pop-up hostel in Puerto Rico before coming to Rockaway, and says she isn't trying to offend anyone with the bungalow names.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

Offering beds named for Chris Brown, Ike Turner and Mel Gibson, the hostel had a shared kitchen space called the "Domestic Violence Bungalow," which advised guests to "get yo spatulas out."

The name of the space was changed on the hostel's website on Wednesday to the "Wife Beater Bungalow" and later to simply "The Kitchen."

Hostile Hostel owner Laura Jones, 30, initially said she was "just trying to lighten the vibe" by giving the four buildings on the corner of Beach 88th Street and the Rockaway Freeway the questionable names.

"It's just a joke," she said Wednesday afternoon. "If it doesn't go over well, we can pull it."

But she later conceded that "it hadn't really occurred" to her that the violent names would be offensive.

"The fact that you mentioned it — I don't want to cause any trouble, and I just don't want to offend anyone," she said.

Jonathan Gaska, district manager of Community Board 14, said "it's clearly a poor choice of names."

Jones, who is from Canada and has lived all over the world, fulfilled a decade-old dream and opened her first hostel in Aguada, Puerto Rico, last October, keeping it open until the spring.

She'll be in Rockaway until November, and said the spaces got their initial names from a former guest of the Puerto Rico hostel, who hails from Toronto and was in town last weekend for The Hostile Hostel's opening.

Guests can still book beds named after Tony Montana, Tony Soprano or Fat Tony from Springfield at what was known as the "Gang Violence Bungalow," now known simply as "The Living Room."

There visitors could "wash away the evidence in the attached bathroom, and hide your glocks because this first bungalow acts as the communal living space for the rest of the hostel gang," according to the description, which has since been deleted.

Despite changing the labels for the rooms, the names associated with the beds at the hostel, which is slated to be open until Nov. 1, remained.

The "Whore House," which was changed to "The Dorm," is the perfect place to "get down wit yo ladies," according to the description. Like all the bungalows, beds there rent for $50 a night per person on weekdays and $65 on weekends. 

New York's most famous prostitute-loving pol, Eliot Spitzer, is honored in that space with a lofted bed — along with infamous madam Heidi Fleiss

Good ventilation and stainless surfaces can be found at the "Crack House Bungalow," later changed to "The Other Dorm," which Hostile Hostel warned was "not recommended for children" and houses the Rob Ford, Whitney Houston and George Michael beds.

Jones said she hoped her beach-themed hostel will attract a good mix of people looking for a place to crash after a day of fun at the popular Queens beach.

After leaving a job in marketing, she opened the Puerto Rico hostel to help support her dream of traveling around the world.

Jones landed in Rockaway Beach after meeting her boyfriend, who co-owns the Rockaway Beach Surf Club around the corner.

She said she wants to "have fun with good people — what more could you want?" she added. 

At the hostel, she'll offer deals to local restaurants and bars, plus surfboard storage.

"I want to give people an opportunity to have fun and be able to afford to have a good time," she said. "I want to make things accessible."

But not everyone got the joke.

Danny Ruscillo, a community leader who works with the 100th Precinct Community Council, said the names were "outrageous."

"This is not a joke, and it's not funny. We're not laughing," he said. "We have enough problems in Rockaway, and we don't need that kind of nonsense."