My friend E. has just discovered the joys of hostelling. She’s not new to travelling but she’s never trusted hostels.
When she decided to move to South East Asia – something that did not last – she took my advice and booked a couple of days at a hostel first. Fast-forward to last weekend, when she told me that was the best bit of her trip.
People tend to have a lot of preconceptions when it comes to hostels, most of which are false and are stopping them from meeting new people, having a great experience and of course, saving a few quids.
If you want to meet people, hostels are for you. Whether or not you book a dorm bed, – yes, most hostels have private rooms – people who stay at hostels tend to be into socialising. Add to this the real possibility of the property’s staff organising activities and here you have it: a happy family made up of people you didn’t know five minutes ago.
I’ve met people in hostels that I now call friends. I’ve visited them in their hometowns (the friend I’m with in the picture above was met in Spain but we had a good catch up in Germany), they’ve come to say hi, we chat and keep track of each others’ whereabouts on social media… Half of my social network has been met travelling. 90% of those fellow travellers were met in hostels.
However, whilst hostel people are ace, they are still people. You might meet fellow humans you don’t get along with. It’s just a reality. Whilst staying in a hostel, it’s pretty hard to escape the travellers you don’t like. You’ll see them in the kitchen, the TV room, on the terrace… and if you’re super unlucky, in your room.
About your room: unless you go for a private, you’ll be sharing it. Dorms aren’t as bad as some people make them out to be. But if you value your privacy above all else, you might need to give it a pass. If you like other people to keep their orgasms and farts to themselves, you should also, probably, give it a pass. On the plus side, sleeping on the bottom bunk and having crazy freaky loud sex couple on the top bunk makes for some good stories the next day at the hostel bar. If you’re a storyteller or a comedian, you’ll soon find yourself the most popular/ funny person in the place. Lose some sleep, win some friends.
Hostels aren’t always in the best locations. 95% of the time though, they are. That hostel in Busan: by the beach. The one in Waikiki: behind a four star hotel, a 1 minute walk from, yes, the beach. The London YHA: by St Paul’s Cathedral.
You can, of course, get hotels in these locations. Thinking about how much you’d pay for them, however, gives me a rash.
Hostels are so much cleaner than hotels. Seriously. Weirdly, every time I had a nightmare room – blood in the bed, itchy mattress, bathroom that had not seen detergent in the last couple decades – it’s been in hotels.
Hostels’ facilities do get a bit messed up at the end of the day BUT they’re usually sorted out pretty quickly. The reason is usually that hostel mess is a guest’s fault, hotel mess is because the staff can’t be bothered. It’s always cleaner when the people in charge of cleanliness actually want to clean.
Let’s be honest: you can’t really beat hostel prices. A dorm bed in London for 18 pounds, 30 dollars in Waikiki, a private double room for the equivalent of 45 euros in Busan… These are prices – all real – that we can all get behind.
If it wasn’t clear: I love hostels. I also, sometimes, like a quiet hotel room where I can get some work done and turn off the light whenever I feel like it. For solo travellers, I’d always recommend staying in hostels, at least for a couple of days. Meeting humans is one of the most important part of any trip and hostels make it as easy as sharing a drink with new friends.