I Love Hostels!
Somehow, hostels have a terrible reputation. In all honesty, they’re my favorite type of accommodation, and I’ve stayed in hostels in several countries. Even without taking the price into consideration, I’d still love staying at them, particularly when I’m traveling alone because of their social nature. I also love that they’re all so different. When I stay in hotels, they feel so boring. I know exactly what to expect. Hostels often have their own personalities, and the rooms don’t all look exactly the same. I’ve stayed in straight-forward, very forgettable hostels; super modern, beautiful hostels; and traditional hostels with a lot of history. I’ve stayed in private rooms and in all-female dorm rooms and I haven’t had a real problem yet.
Hostels are generally much cheaper than other accommodations. The price and the type of hostel can really differ, so doing a little bit of research can make or break your stay. If you’re going to an expensive country or city, you’re going to pay a little more, especially during the high season. For the most part, I’ve paid between $15-35 per night. If you’re willing to stay in a large dorm room (I’m not), then you can go even cheaper. If you want a private room in a nice hostel, it’s sometimes more.
How I Choose a Hostel
What I’m looking for in a hostel depends on who I’m traveling with and where I’m traveling. Two things I look for no matter what are cleanliness and location. Of course, I want to stay in a clean place. Thankfully, I don’t have any horror stories of hostels with bed bugs or that were disgusting in whatever other way. A dirty hostel can be spotted pretty quickly through bad reviews. Location is also important to me because if a hostel isn’t either easily walkable or easy to access from public transportation, I’m going to waste a lot of time and money getting there.
If I’m traveling with someone else, I’ll usually look for a private room. Sharing a private room is usually just as cheap as paying for two dorm beds. If I’m traveling alone, I’ll either stay in a private room or in an all-female dorm. The benefits of a dorm are both the price and the fact that you’ll usually meet your roommates.
Another thing to consider is the atmosphere of the hostel. A lot of this can be figured out through descriptions, reviews, and pictures. Some hostels are known as party hostels, while others have a reputation for being quiet and laid-back. In the end, reading the reviews can tell you a lot.
One last thing that you might want to think about is the bathroom situation. I’ve stayed at hostels with all kinds of different bathroom setups. As long as it’s clean, I’m not terribly picky about the rest. If you get a private room, you might have an ensuite bath, and your room will feel like a very basic hotel room (basic as in possibly no TV, very little decor, etc.). If you’re staying in a dorm room, you’ll share a bathroom, which could be with your roommates or could be in a more common area. Sometimes, there are separate men’s and women’s bathrooms that remind me of the large bathrooms in a college dorm. Sometimes, it’s more of an area, with doors (not stalls) that open into a hallway. Sometimes, you’ll go to the shower down the hall from you room and then accidentally spray an electrical outlet in a very old building and spend your whole shower scared that the building’s about to burn down (it didn’t). In the end, it’s not as bad as it all sounds, I promise!
Booking a Hostel
I mainly use Hostelworld for finding and booking hostels. You can also book through the hostel’s actual website, which will save them money and will sometimes save you money, too.
The Benefits of Hostels
I have to end on a positive note. I really do love hostels. For me, the best part of a hostel is that they’re almost always social. There’s often a hostel bar that people will gather in at night and where people will also have breakfast in the morning. I’ve met roommates and made plans with them. I’ve made plans for the day with new people over breakfast. Just off the top of my head, I can think of specific people I’ve met people from Canada, Sweden, the UK, Colombia, China, Australia, Spain, Japan, South Korea, Germany, and the United States in hostels. Almost all of the countries listed represent more than one person, too.
There are also often events in hostels themselves, directions to local activities, and the staff usually has great advice. I’ve found free Japanese classes, street artists, beautiful places to hike, and more from hostel staff. I’ve gone to movie nights, local food making nights, weathered a tsunami, and more in my hostels. If you’ve never tried a hostel before, give one a try. Ask me if you want help finding one, and check back soon for another post detailing some of my hostel experiences.