Spending the night during a trip is one of the important travel elements. Various people have various preferences- some require a luxurious hotel where they can enjoy and relax like kings, while others just want to sleep somewhere in safety and some level of comfort. Usually, the hotels are the most common way of accommodation, but among the alternatives, there is something worth trying- the hostel. Read below more about the hostels, and more tips about how to choose hostel vs hotel.
What is a hostel
In short, a hostel is a property that offers low-cost accommodation in shared rooms, often with a shared kitchen, toilets, or other facilities. In one room, there can be 4, 6, 8, and more beds, and usually, they are bunk beds.
Many hostels also include bars, and small entertainment rooms or facilities. At the same time, they still can include a normal hotel part, with normal hotel rooms and private toilets. But as long as it has a hostel part, it is a hostel.
The first hostels date from the 30s of the 20th century in Germany, and their purpose was exactly to provide cheaper and simpler accommodation for young people. Since then, hostels became a popular way of spending the night among budget travelers, backpackers, and people who want to meet travel mates.
Hostel vs hotel- pros for hostels
Although hotels are the most popular way of accommodation, hostels remain always attractive for a certain type of travelers. And there are several things that make hostels more preferable by these people than hotels.
Hostels are cheap
They are cheap, because you pay for a bed, not for a room. And since the room is shared between 4, 6, 8, or more people, beds in a hostel are cheaper than beds in a hotel. Yes, there are some exceptions but in general, hostels are a much more budget way of accommodation.
However, if there is a hotel part, the hotel type of rooms is more expensive. Their prices are the same as normal hotels rooms- usually like the prices in the budget hotels.
You can meet new travel mates in a hostel
This is natural. When you sleep in a room with many people together, the chance of talking with strangers and becoming a friend is good. So, if you are a solo traveler, it is not impossible to meet a new travel mate who goes on the same route as you, and you proceed with your journey with him or her. Some people have even met their future spouse in a hostel!
Or at least, you can meet new friends and share each other’s travel experiences, learning some new information and travel tips. And you can meet them not only in the room but also in the lounge or in the hostel’s bar. But even if all of the above doesn’t happen, you can still have a nice time with strangers far from home.
Hostels are better at providing useful travel information and tips
This is probably because hostels are designed mostly for budget young travelers, who want to explore the world. So, you can see a lot of useful information on how to go here or there, what buses, trains or other transport can use for this or that popular route, or how to join a local tour to a certain destination.
This information is often written on papers hanging on the walls or on the reception, and the writing style is usually entertaining or even funny. Besides, you can also see a lot of flyers with useful tips, warnings, or hostel rules everywhere.
In addition, the staff in the reception is usually well-informed and can provide a lot of useful information that is not written on flyers. And again, even if the reception people don’t know something, you still have a good chance to learn it from the other travelers in the hostel.
Hostel vs hotel- cons for hostels
Of course, not everything is perfect and great with hostels. Many people would not like hostels for several reasons like those below.
When you are in a room with many unknown people, you can’t do what you want on your bed. Yes, some hostels divide rooms into men’s and women’s, but still, you are not alone.
So, such kind of accommodation is usually not proper for couples or families with children. While in a normal hotel room couples can remain in privacy for everything, including sex, it is (almost) impossible in a hostel shared room. As for families with children- the need for more privacy is obvious too.
You disturb me, I disturb you
This is the result of less privacy. You go to a restaurant or a nightclub, back to the hostel at 11:30 pm, enter your room and everything is dark. Snoring can be heard from the bed near the corner. You try to be silent and to prepare for sleep, including changing your clothes. And you have to do it in darkness.
And if you are from the other side- you are tired, you want to sleep, but two three guys still stay beside you, talk noisy and keep the lights on until midnight. Or, everybody sleeps on time, but someone has to wake up at 4:00 am to catch his or her early flight. While this person prepares everything, you and at least half of the other roommates are awakened by the noise.
Yes, there is a certain etiquette for hostel roommates, but not everybody knows it, or at least not everybody can follow it successfully. And sometimes, there are people who really don’t care about it and don’t care about others, causing conflicts and other problems.
So, as you know what the hostel is, as well as your budget, your preferences, and your current travel situation, you just need to follow some useful tips if you want to get the best experience from your hostel stay.
Have the right expectations
You can read the hostel cons again. Don’t expect something different than what the hostel is. Just accept its cons and try to get the best from them, otherwise, better to find a normal hotel.
Prepare in advance everything that causes noise or other disturbance
Yes, prepare your clothes and other belongings in a proper place in your luggage to find them easily and quickly. If possible, arrange these things in advance, earlier, before others sleep. And if you have to get up too early, prepare your luggage in advance too.
Too many people, only one toilet or a bathroom (or combined). You have two options. Avoid the “rush hour” and go to the toilet earlier, or just be patient and wait in the queue.
Accept the less privacy
Many hostels try to increase privacy by putting curtains on the beds, so you can hide behind them. But you can’t hide the noise that you can make. If you are a couple, just accept that a shared room with many people is not a proper place for sex. Probably, there would be curious people who would enjoy being voyeurs or other people who may find what you do disgusting.
Follow the rules
Usually, there are certain rules in the hostels that you can find written on the walls or other places like “Don’t throw toilet paper into the loo!” or “Don’t bring food into the room!”. These rules are not written without reason. If you don’t follow these rules, you may cause problems to the staff or to the other roommates.
Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you
This is a verse from the Bible. And during a trip, you can hardly find a more proper place to apply these words than a hostel. As long as you do it, you will be ok.
Yes, you can face rude people who don’t want to care about the nature of a hostel. They can disturb you and the others. Again, first, try to convince them peacefully, don’t provoke aggression in them. If this doesn’t help, better ask the hostel’s staff to deal with them, and if necessary, they can even call the police.
This is what you should do if you just want to spend the night in a hostel. But why don’t you get more from the hostel, embracing its pros?
Give and get useful information
Yes, why don’t you use the opportunity to meet new people and share each other’s experiences? You want to visit some places the next day, but you can find people who have already been there.
And they can give you not only useful ideas, but also they can warn you about something crucial that you don’t know (like local restrictions, working time, etc.). In the same way, you can provide useful information to others too.
Spend a nice time with new people
Most probably, you would use the hostel just to spend the night. But if you back to it earlier, why don’t you spend the time with new people there?
You can go to the hostel’s bar (if there is a bar) or just to the lounge, talk with others, share each other’s journeys, get each other’s contact, drink a cup of beer, or something else. Sometimes, you can find good friends that can even change your life!
Now, let’s take a look at some useful resources that can help you find a good hostel.
There are three good platforms where you can search for hostels. All of them are like search engines that you can use to find and book your preferred hostel. Besides these three, there are several more, but Booking, Agoda, and Hostelworld are the best.
Booking is the most popular search and accommodation booking engine. It includes various kinds of accommodation- hotels, hostels, guest houses, Bed & Breakfast, resorts, apartments, bungalows, and more.
So, if you search for hostels, you can find them and can compare the prices with the prices of the other properties. Thus, Booking is for people who are looking just for any place to stay at night.
Agoda is similar to Booking- again, you can find all kinds of properties, including hostels. The only differences are in the business model of booking. Booking uses the “Agency model”- you just make a reservation, but pay to the property when check in or check out. But Agoda uses a mixed model- “Agency” and “Merchant”. That’s why for many properties you have to pay by your credit card in advance.
Finally, there are properties (including hostels) that you can find on Booking but not on Agoda and vice versa.
As its name suggests, this one is specialized in hostels. That’s why here you can find hostels that aren’t registered on Booking, Agoda, or any other accommodation platform. Besides, this platform is not just a search and booking engine, but it includes a blog with various travel tips, useful ideas, travel news, and travelers’ reviews and experiences.
Of course, Hostelworld is for travelers who search only hostels and nothing else. They are people who are looking for a cheap way to meet other travelers, share each other’s experiences and don’t mind the less privacy and the partial inconvenience of the hostels.
So, hostels are not for everyone, but those who like this kind of spending the night can find its charm and enjoy it. Or, at least for people who don’t mind the cons of the hostels but look for them just for the cheap price, they can also have a nice stay in this type of property.
In any case, don’t forget that travel is travel. Your journey is the reason why you leave your home and go wandering, not the hostel or any other place to sleep. And put the hostel in its proper position in your travel plans!
Check some travel books about planning a trip!
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Hi, we are Krasen and Ying Ying. Krasen is from Bulgaria, and Ying Ying is from China. We are passionate about geography and history, and we believe that the best way to experience it is by exploring the Earth in reality, not in a school, and not virtually.
So, we created this blog Journey Beyond the Horizon, where we share geographical knowledge, travel guides and tips how to experience it when you explore our planet, and a lot of inspiration.
And we wish you a happy journey, not just virtually, but most of all- in reality.