For most Americans, hostel is a foreign term. Most people have a general idea, but are ultimately unsure. This creates an uneasiness and due to this many avoid hostels altogether. Plus the horror movies “Hostel” and “Hostel 2” do not really help matters. This really is such a shame though! Hostels are a wonderful avenue for travelers! I feel I must address some misconceptions about hostels, so that my fellow travelers don’t miss out on an opportunity.
What Exactly is a Hostel?
According to Google the definition of hostel is “an establishment that provides inexpensive food and lodging for a specific group of people, such as students, workers, or travelers.” But this could be said of B&B’s, hotels, motels, or other forms of accommodations. The best way that I can describe it is similar to a dorm room. See, at a hotel or other accommodation you are paying for the whole room, versus a hostel you are paying per bed (and per person). For example, a typical hotel might fit 2-4 people and cost anywhere from $70+ per room per night, with the same price regardless if it’s only one person. Whereas a hostel might charge $15 per person per night so if you had 2 people it would $30 and so on. So there can be considerable savings! At most hostels there are usually also private rooms offered, some with bathrooms attached to the room (en suite), some without and offer shared bathrooms. Even the private rooms are generally less expensive than a hotel. A few drawbacks to hostels though, are sometimes bed linen isn’t included. You may bring your own or rent it. The same is true for towels. All of the hostels that I have stayed at have included bed linens, and we just brought our own towels. Hostels are more common in Europe than in America, but there are more popping up in larger cities. Common sense should be applied as you would for any hotel as well. You want a good, clean one with good reviews, and some decent amenities.
What About Amenities?
Maybe you are thinking about the pool, included breakfasts, and other typical amenities hotels offer? Personally I don’t usually get up early enough for the free breakfast. Or when I do it’s pretty basic like bagels and fruit. But is it really worth the up-charge you’re paying? Haven’t you ever thought “I could go out and get something better?”. Plus many hostels actually include a basic breakfast too! Score another one for the hostels! About the pool, while it is pretty rare to find a hostel with a pool, it is not impossible. As a matter of fact the India House Hostel where Jake and I will be staying at in New Orleans will actually have a pool (so excited about it!). Here is an example of some of the facilities from our hostel in New Orleans: -24 Hour Reception/ 24 Hour Security -Air Conditioning -Bicycle Hire/ Bicycle Parking -Cable TV -Common Room -Free Internet Access -Free Parking -Linen Included -Lockers (must provide your own lock) -Outdoor Swimming Pool/ Outdoor Terrace -Postal Service -Tours/Travel Desk -Towels for hire. They also advertise the occasional live music or entertainment and the occasional crawfish boil.
Unique to Hostels
There are other reasons why I prefer hostels, the main one is the opportunity to socialize with locals or fellow travelers! This can be invaluable. Some will know the best spots and can make recommendations. I have made several friends from people we have met at hostels, and heard some amazing stories. One man was from Italy and had travelled extensively, he showed us some beautiful pictures of the different tribes he had visitied in Africa. Another man was an American expat who lived in France with his son and were on holiday. Plus there are experiences you just can’t pay for. Like on one of our nights in Ireland, several people from the hostel all went out to the pub together and had a great time! Another night we all watched Game of Thrones and cooked together. You won’t get this at any hotel. Plus the majority of small hostels are converted houses, so they have a homey feel, which I like. On the other hand the newer hostels can be very modern and fresh, much more like a hotel.
I cannot make people see the value of hostels or completely get rid of the stigma that it carries. But I really think if more people tried them, they would see what I have been saying. However, what is right for me, may not be right for everyone. I hope this has at least made you consider a hostel, if you haven’t before, fellow traveler. Should you try it for the first time, please leave me a comment on your experience! Until next time, cofre viagens (safe travels)!