I think hostels get a bad rap. It may just be the name, I remember working at Blockbuster Video as a young teenager when this R 18+ horror movie was released called Hostel, it freaked me out. When travelling the biggest expense other than maybe airfares is accommodation. Depending on your length of travel and budget, you may be interested in a luxurious room with all the amenities, spa bar and room service. I myself personally didn’t quit my job and travel to the other side of the world to relax and indulge myself in this way. I do choose to slum it in some ways but not all. It’s all about finding the right balance. I am not made of money , I didn’t come from money, I did however earn all my money. How I choose to spend it is up to me. I don’t see the value at all in forking out large sums of money for a nice room that I won’t actually be spending much time in. I choose hostels as they offer all I need at a very good price and location. Often I just want a place I can put my bags, take a nap, charge my phone & have a shower. If you don’t like the idea of sharing a room with what are yes , complete strangers. You could perhaps opt in for private room. They are a lot more expensive, but are still a lot more affordable then hotels.
Location. The truth is, more often then not, hostels are located in really great areas. Often all they are is very old run down hotels that are now ineligible of any kind of star rating. For example in San Francisco I was staying at a hostel next to the 5 star hilton. The location was absolutely amazing. Sure my suitcase didn’t fit in the elevator but Yolo, the wifi was fast.
Although I am overall very Pro Hostel. They ain’t all good. Thanks to a lot of the booking websites it is now very easy to divide the good from the damn right ugly. The booking website have a rating system that allows you to view honest opinions from recent guest. They rate everything from the staff, cleanliness to location & wifi speed. The websites only allow you to rate after staying there, so you know they are legit views.
Tips: If you are planning on visiting a place in peak season, such as NYE, summer or perhaps there is a major festival happening there. I do recommend on booking well in advance where possible. other then that my suggestion is not to book in advance at all. More times then not I have got a last minute deal from the night before. A lot of the hostels palm off there unsold rooms to various websites that go on to slash the price often 50% off or more. This is great if you are a spontaneous traveller.
Super Tip! If travelling off-peak. (think English Winter) go ahead and book that 10-15 mixed dorm. It will be bargain price & chances are you could be the only one in there. This has actually happened to me! In Birmingham and Cardiff, Wales. I got a room for 10 pounds and I was the only one in there. I saved some serious mola. Hola!
Cheeky tip. If its the weekend and your in a city where you know you are going to go out. Book the cheapest room, lock up all of your stuff, get out on the town, get your boogie on & chances are you won’t be sleeping at all or will end up in someone else’s house. Often a lot comfier then the hostel beds. 😉
Beware; Be careful of the extra cost associated with your room. Perhaps they don’t offer complimentary towels. Maybe the Wifi ain’t free. Maybe the checkout time is 7am. Always read the fine print or you it might cost you as much as a night at the Hilton around the corner.
My favourite thing about hostels is of course the people you meet! When your renting out a bed in a 10 bed dorm, if my maths is correct theres a potential that you are able to make 9 new friends! You meet people from all over the world, if your plans are often flexi like mine, it can be fun to tag along and get some ideas from your fellow dorm buddies. With 10 beds in a room there is the obvious downside of potential snorers, or people that stank, or chat on their phone, come home at random times, alarm clocks with 5 min snooze intivals.
Hostels also put on a various range of events if you are lucky! from crawls to pasta nights. When I was in paris my hostel put on a cheese and wine tasting night for free. I vomited it all up in my dorm ensuite later that night.