Sex is one of the chief things in life, and the union of mental and bodily satisfaction one of its culminating peaks. All the world knows it and conducts its life accordingly” – Sigmund Freud
The dictum above came to mind during my visit to Peru. Rambling around Puente Piedra, I just couldn’t hold my composure. Every five or six steps I gave, I bumped into a new “Hostal” with a discreet entrance. Are there that many tourists in Lima?, I pondered. Treading upon the sidewalk, I later encountered a bizarre Hostal’s sign: “Promotion, half an hour: 10 soles”.
‘Not as many tourists as casual lovers’, I reasoned.
The Peruvian Hostales: The Business of LoveImage Source: Trip Advisor
Hostales in Peru are short stay hotels exclusively for sexual activities. A breed of ‘American motels’, the wave of short stay lodgings started in the 1950’s, first in Japan and then all over the globe.
Scholars have studied the origins of love motels. Although every case is different, hotels were the product of some trends: the loosening of familial restrictions, individualism and the commodification of love. For some couples, motels offered a quick escape from the burdensome roles of marriage and society. Motels destroyed the deadening routine, making their lodgers “feel different” while enjoying the primordial relief of sex. Smothered by the chaotic city, motels were a haven where people could be truly free. Capitalism intensified this trend. Building ‘love hotels’ with a jacuzzi, cable tv, sound system and wall mirrors made sexual pleasure a commodity and a juicy business.
Since the 197o’s, Hostales began to proliferate in Lima. My neighborhood was no exception. During the nineties, my mother’s friend inaugurated a hostal, quite reluctant of her investment. She rapidly understood that the “market was wild” and in expansion. Today, this same lady owns a huge chain of hostales in Lima. But all businesses have mishaps. She recently told mother that a mafia of lodgers specializes in stealing…blankets! Still, she claims that “demand is peaking.”
The booming demand is obvious: There’s a Hostal in Lima within a short-distance trip. Four thousand of them are officially registered, but many more function illegally. The total number of Peruvian Hostales across the nation is vastly bigger.
As my mom’s friend said: the market is really ‘wild’.
Related Content: What Is The Real Deal With Japan’s Love Hotels?Image Source: Groupon
Hostales’ busiest days are Saint Valentine’s, Independence day, Christmas and New Year’s eve. The rooms vary according to the occasion and the partner a client brings. Young couples prefer a quiet place; the romantic types seek a room with jacuzzi. Those with a casual partner rent a room with disco lights, a loud stereo and a dancing pole.
Barrios Pobres: The Mecca of Peruvian ‘Telos’
Working class jurisdictions are the Mecca of Peruvian Hostales. You may find two or three Hostales within a five-minute walk. They are commonly referred as Telos.
These lodges are picturesque and deviate from the norm. They display a pretty upfront publicity and don’t shy away to attract customers. Their ‘promotions’ adjust to the demographic, and may be considered vulgar and hurt some sensitivities. But still, they are what academics call the Chicha culture, a genuine manifestation of our Peruvian working class.
Let it be known that hostales are frequented by clients and their partners. Don’t expect to find love there.
Below are the common traits of Peruvian Telos:
The Name of Hostales Hint their Type of ServiceImage Source: Peru 21
Even if hostales have a discreet entrance, enormous signs are displayed in the frontis. Some hostales have names that advertise their types of service. ‘Grand Prix’, for example, implies they welcome couples seeking a quick visit. Just like Grand Prix, racing all the way to the end.
Hostales Can Really Adjust to the ConsumerImage Source: Twitter
Considering the nature of their service, most clients won’t stay a full night. Business owners understand that applying fixed rates would be detrimental. Therefore, they are flexible and release some cool promotions.
Hostales Advertise Through Mototaxis (or Taxi-Cholos)Image Source: Peru fail
Auto rickshaws are known as Mototaxi or Taxi-Cholos in Peru. They abound in working class areas, being their first choice of transportation. Smart Peruvian businessmen reach potential clients by hanging ads on these vehicles.
Hostales Don’t Usually Have a Food MenuImage Source: Peru fail
Given that couples just rent a room for sex, the menu is mainly composed of alcohol, sodas and “other things”.
Certain ‘Telos‘ sell Sex Lingerie to Enhance Your ExperienceImage Source: Hollywood Reporter
The main purpose of a hostal is to give free rein to your imagination. Accordingly, certain hostales sell accessories for their customers to go wild. What sort of accessories? All types: Costumes, toys, lingerie, handcuffs, cords and other gadgets to realize their wildest fantasies. As expected, premium XXX cable channels are offered for those needing some extra help.
Some Hostales Go Overboard With Their Names
Peruvian hostal owners are inventive, naming their businesses with daring slang terms.Image Source: Peru fail
I don’t believe hostal Monte Rico is located in the fine Limeño district of Monterrico. Monte Rico alludes to “having a good ride”.Image Source: Peru Fail
And the last one “Arrechón” comes from the term “arrecho” which means oversexed.
Hostales Have Signs That Keep Your Mind at PeaceImage Source: latin fail
Most hostales have the reputation of being unsanitary. This sometimes inaccurate fame has undermined their business. That’s why some hostales go great lengths to ensure that their customers return. The image above reads “disinfected bathroom, because you deserve it. ” Picture below: “Take care of your health; Full sanitation, here.”Image Source: Peru fail
Some European Tourists and Backpackers Prefer Hostales
European Backpackers and tourists with a short budget don’t have difficulties renting a room. Language barriers are not an issue. Intelligent Peruvian owners have English aids as the one above.
A surprising thing is that, at least in my neighborhood, nobody seems to mind hostales. In fact, I may have only noticed it because I had been away for long. I even brought to my friends’ attention the high amount of hostales in the area. But they dismissed my inquiry, as something too obvious to discuss.
Obvious or not, I believe hostales are an interesting feature of the city Lima and the nature of their residents.
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