A true travel story of a sleepless (and very embarrassing) night in London.
Have you ever slept on a complete stranger’s couch? I have. More than I can count on both hands, all over the world. Sounds crazy? Believe me when I tell you that it is one of the most eye-opening, exciting experiences to open your heart and get to know the world.
And it can go very wrong. This very embarrassing but for sure unique story includes a naked man, hairspray and a very inappropriate offer.
I don’t know if there is any situation more embarrassing than standing in front of a naked man in the middle of the night. And I am not speaking about a boyfriend, husband or lover — I am speaking about a complete stranger.
Sleeping on a Stranger’s Couch
But let’s go to the beginning of the story. It all started on a warm summer day in London, where I and my friend Sophie were looking for a place to stay for the night. As adventurous travellers, we were always on the hunt for money-saving backpacker options — like Couchsurfing.
CS is a global platform of over 14 million locals and travellers. You can simply create your profile and start surfing around the world. After my first CS experience, I never wanted to stay in hotels or hostels again because only like this can I get to know the place I visit in a real, authentic way. Who makes a place? Right, the people. If you stay with locals, you will discover the city not as a tourist, but as one of them.
I have made many really good CS experiences in the past, but as we all know, luck doesn’t last forever. I found this seemingly nice guy (let’s name him John) on the platform who invited us to sleep on his couch for the night and show us some of his favourite London spots. When we arrived at his flat, everything was pretty normal — except for one thing … I couldn’t find the couch.
The Unexpected Pervert
Not thinking too much of it, we left out backpacks and went out for food. When we came back around midnight, we were super tired and ready for a good nights sleep. I don’t know why I didn’t listen to my gut feeling at any given moment. I and my friend went into the bathroom and got ready for bed. We never even imagined what happened next. When we took a step into the bedroom, we saw him — and I screamed (it was more of a loud exclamation of shock).
A naked man was casually laying in the middle of the bed.
I am sure our shocked faces spoke for themselves. But he didn’t seem discouraged. He patted either side of him and said: “Come join me, there’s space for everyone.” I felt my face turning completely red and I said the first thing that came to my mind:
“We are doing Couchsurfing, not bedsurfing mister!”
He just grinned at us. Was he really suggesting that we take our clothes off and join him? We excused ourselves and rushed into the bathroom. I saw panic in my friend’s eyes.
There we were, two girls far from home in a complete stranger’s house, locked in the bedroom because their host was inviting them to have a naked sleeping party.
We held a crisis meeting. Our options were very limited because it was after 12, a national holiday, everything was closed, we had no clue where we were and the next hotel was miles away. So we decided to take the risk and make a deal with the naked man. Cautiously we opened the door and with closed eyes approached the bedroom again. The man just seemed amused and agreed to our deal — clothes on without touching!
So yes, we slept in the bed with a crazy guy.
Obviously, I had to sleep in the middle because my friend was way too scared. I was glued to her and tried not to move an inch. We didn’t sleep for one minute. Even though I was super tired, I just couldn’t risk closing my eyes. When the sleep almost overruled me, the man suddenly got up and left the room. We heard a door opening and a second man seemed to have entered.
That was the moment when we started to really panic. Two strange men — we were outnumbered! My mind started to go crazy …
“What if they are serial killers who rape or kill innocent travellers?”
Okay, I admit this seems a little bit over the top — but just imagine yourself in that situation! Out of sheer desperation, I took the little bottle of hairspray out of my backpack, it was the next best pepper spray I could think of, and the only weapon which was available to us. I hold onto this bottle the whole night, not being able to move or even blink. I was ready to defend our lives.
Guess what, nothing at all happened. When the first light touched the city of London, we packed our stuff and left this very weird place immediately. We never even saw the naked man again, god knows what he and his friend were up to.
Maybe until this day they are still watching tapes of us laying in their bed with a bottle of hairspray.
Funny enough, this was not the only weird CS experience I made — if for sure one of the scariest and most embarrassing. I also had to face a party Dj in Paris and a crazy collector in Ireland — who both gave me long sleepless nights. So it is true, you can be very unlucky with Couchsurfing, but looking back, these experiences taught me some very precious things about this world.
Thank you for appreciating my art!