I love hostels, and I think they’re a great option, particularly for solo travellers. Of course, ultra-cheap usually comes with some kind of trade off, and hostels are no exceptions. So I present to you, 3 reasons to stay in hostels, and 3 (slightly tongue-in-cheek) reasons to avoid them.
Three Reasons to Do It!
ONE. For solo travel, hostels are a great place to meet people – afterall, who wants to spend their evenings alone in a stuffy private room, with no one to share your latest adventures with? Plus, travelling means leaving behind your worries, enjoying yourself, and potentially never seeing those you encounter again. These three ingredients mean that for the most part, the people you meet in hostels are friendly, relaxed, and almost always up for splitting a bottle of cheap vodka with you or joining in an impromptu singalong. One of my favourite nights in Amsterdam was spent having a pretend American college party in our dorm room, just the eight of us. One person didn’t speak English, but that didn’t seem to deter us in the slightest.
TWO. It’s cheap! Do you know how many glasses of cheap wine a proper hotel will prevent you from enjoying? Seriously, everyone has their priorities, but if yours is staying under budget or having more left over for other aspects of your trip, you really can’t go wrong with a hostel. A bed in a dorm room in many countries is about the cost of a McDonalds meal. Win!
THREE. The staff just “get” you. Of course, every traveller likes to think they are a unique snowflake, and in some ways everyone’s adventures are deeply personal. However, there are certain commonalities between most budget travellers: and it’s nice when, without saying anything, your hostel staff provide you with a map of the bus system and a guide to free walking tours of the city because they just know you aren’t paying for that!
Three Reasons NOT to Do It!
ONE. The behaviour of many backpackers would probably constitute a recommendations to an AA meeting if exhibited back home. If you are staying in hostel rooms, be prepared for people to stumble into your room at 3 o’clock in the morning, swat at the light until it erupts all over the room, searing itself into your irises. Said dormmate will likely then try to climb into his/her top bunk like a baby gorilla climbing a tree for the first time. This is all conducted with Maximum Possible Noise and probably with annoying commentary (even once the lights finally go out) or reflections on their night out.
TWO. Bad for romance. Like, really really bad. If you want to canoodle with your significant other on your trip – all power to you – but book a private room. Couples can stay in dorm rooms, of course, but it’s ONE PERSON TO A BED, people! Which, of course, is not always the greatest option for couples. I have also personally found that sadly, couples seem to emit some kind of ‘stay away!’ vibe, and it’s not quite as easy to meet people, even if you’re trying to. I think some backpackers may fear “commitment” is catching. (It’s not – I promise. Also, couples won’t suddenly ‘cut in’ on that cute girl/guy you’ve been chatting to at the bar!)
THREE. I have seen petri dishes mid-experiment that appear to have a far better level of hygiene and cleanliness than hostels. The fact that backpackers, well known to be about as resilient and relaxed as they come, refuse to step into hostel showers without a good pair of thongs is slightly concerning. However, having seen the state of several hostels, I reckon that’s a good call. So is lying your sleeping bag liner over the sheets!
Pic from: http://www.hostelolomouc.com/