I was recently debating with my friend over the topic of staying in hostels. He thinks hostels are unsafe, dirty and uncomfortable; they are for party animals and people who can not afford hotels. I tried to change his misconception.
I love staying at nice hotels and I have to admit now that I am older I would like more privacy and luxury. My experience in the hostels in Australia a couple of years back told me maybe it was time to retire from the dormitory style, but every now and then I miss the hostel life and still enjoy the experience when I do stay in one. I certainly will never stay in a 16-bed mixed dorm ever again like I did in Melbourne, but I wouldn’t mind a 4-bed female room.
Many people stay in hostels for the atmosphere. I see traveler in their 50’s and 60’s( very young at heart), who are obviously well-off, staying in hostels all the time. They simply enjoy being around like-minded travelers.
I like staying in hostels for the following reasons:
1 – Awesome social vibe
Even though hotels have big lobbies, how often do strangers talk to one another? Hostels, on the other hand, have cool common areas for travelers to hang out and mingle. Even if you don’t feel like socializing, it is nice to just lounge and eavesdrop on others.:) You might pick up some travel tips.
2 – Great support from staff
A hostel feels cozier and people that work there are friendlier. You may benefit from knowledgeable local staff who will provide you with all the information you need – they will highlight all the tourist spots and their favorite restaurants on the map for you, tell you the easiest way to get around, provide you with bus and train schedules, and will gladly answers anythe questions you may have.
They may recommend something which is not in guidebooks and which may provide you more insight into the local culture. Hotels are probably paid to recommend touristy places to eat, but a person in a hostel will tell you about the hole-in-the-wall shops — not the fancy ones that rip you off.
3 – Meeting new friends
You meet interesting and inspiring people from all walks of life who you can exchange travel stories with. You can share useful traveling tips, share a taxi to the airport, go out for drinks or explore the city together. These people may become your life-time friends.
4 – Travel information and discounts
Hostels usually have loads of information available. City maps and information packets with suggestions for free attractions, coupons and inexpensive local restaurants to eat. This is often a community bulletin where you can find out about great local activities, free walking tours or festivals around the city.
5 – Great for solo travellers
If you are traveling alone, it can save you a substantial amount of money, especially if you are traveling for a long period of time. With the money you save, you can travel longer. The price you pay for a night at a hotel could get you a few nights at a hostel. Why not?
6 – Innovative design
Many hostels are modern, trendy and unique – each having its own charm and personality. How about staying at a remodeled Chinese hutong house with a Qing-dynasty courtyard or a resort style hostel with traditional Thai furnishings and a jungle-like garden. Some of the designs are like what you would see in a 5-star hotels.
7 – Great location
Another critical element of hostels is the fact that they are normally located near the bus/train station, which will help you to get to various main attractions easily.
8 – Clean
In some countries, I would rather stay in a hostel than a 3-star hotel. I don’t like the musty smells of some hotel rooms, those floral carpet and colorful bed sheets that they use to cover up stains, the lumpy beds, moldy bathtubs and shower head with low water pressure. Yes, you have to share the shower and bathroom with others in your dorm, but as long as the reviews say the facilities are squeaky clean I am fine with it.
9 – Perfectly safe
Many people don’t like the idea of sharing a room with stranger with fear of safety and security – what if they attack me while I am sleeping or take my belongings, what if I run into some weirdo? Remember other people are thinking the same as you and they are probably afraid of you too. For me, I only worry about people snoring!!
When you think about it, it is probably much easier for a person to get into a hotel and follow you back to your room. Nowadays hostels have a variety of security options ranging from lockers in the rooms, electronic swipe cards for you to use when getting in or out and CCTVs. It is more likely for a staff at a hostel to stop a stranger from entering the property than a hotel receptionist because of the nature of the accommodation.
10 – Well-equipped kitchen
You can pack a lunch and cook while socializing with other people. I don’t really use the kitchen in hostels because I don’t like to cook, but it is nice to bring food back and have it in the dining room.
Your experience in hostels can make your trip an unforgettable journey. We should all try it once.
What do you like or dislike about staying at hostels?