Last week we wrote about hotels vs. vacation rentals, but what if you are considering a hostel instead? Are there any benefits over staying in a hotel? There are a few differences that can help you decide whether it is a better choice to book a hostel or a hotel.
What is a hostel? When you book a hotel, you book a room. When you choose to stay in a hostel, you book a bed. You are literally reserving the spot in which you will stay instead of the room. This typically means that there will be other people in your room that reserved thLs of staying in a hostel?
- Cost. The number one selling point of hostels is the price. I have stayed in multiple hostels for under $15 a night, which is significantly cheaper than many hotels. There is often the misconception that hostels are dirty and much trashier than hotels. This is not necessarily true. Hostels are rated like hotels on sites such as hostelworld.com. I have stayed in 4 and 5 start hostels that are as nice as some of the best hotels. Since hostels are aimed toward the budget conscious traveler, they often include things such as guest kitchens where you can cook and discounted tours or attractions, especially for students.
- Social scene. If you stay in a hotel, you are isolated in your room. Hostels are social settings and you are bound to meet other travelers that are sharing your room. Additionally, almost every hostel has a common room or some type of lounge to encourage social interaction between residents; many even have bars attached. I have met some amazing people in hostels who are usually like minded travelers ready to share stories.
- Hostel Staff. The majority of the staff members I have talked with in hostels are younger people who love to travel. They almost always have great advice, both on the local area and other destinations. Particularly perfect for people who want to experience local culture, their suggestions are usually more off the beaten path than a concierge who often names the top tourist spots.
- Location. Since hostels typically house a fewer number of residents than hotels, their location options are greater. There are many hostels situated in restored historical buildings, big houses, old prisons, campsites, castles, etc.
What are the cons of hostels?
- Bad roommates. There have been a couple times when I have had to share a room with a particularly stinky guest, someone who snores, etc. I will say these times are outweighed by the times I have met awesome people, but keep in mind you have no say in who is in your room, it is just the luck of the draw. One night my friends and I returned to our hostel and found a guy that had crawled into my friend’s bed instead of his own. Awkward. These usually make for good war stories though.
- Amenities. It is common for a hostel not to provide towels for guests without an additional fee. Likewise, they may give you sheets when you check in to make your own bed. If you are looking for added amenities and special treatment, hostels are probably not your best choice.
- Privacy. Hostels are created to form a community. The atmosphere is often much more relaxed and less formal than a hotel. With this in mind, guests may stay up late talking loudly, you will be sharing a community bathroom, and you better get used to changing clothes in front of strangers.
Hostels can be an excellent option especially if you are looking for location character and travel buddies. Just be cautious to do your research first. Below are some pictures from hostels I have stayed in, both costing a little more than $20 USD a night.