Let’s face it, when someone who has never stayed in a hostel before hears the term “hostel” the first thing they picture is an open room with 15+ bunk beds lined together and creepy strangers admiring each other sleep. While this may be the case in a select few countries, the majority of hostels are actually quite the opposite.
If you are a traveler looking to spend the least amount of money possible on a room to sleep in, and you don’t mind the idea of sleeping in a room full of other travelers, the above option is often available for the cheapest price possible. However, many hostels also have rooms with 6 beds, 4 beds, 2 beds, and even private rooms, although the price rises as the number of beds falls.
In my experience, hostels are a great affordable choice for a traveler on a budget. I stayed in a hostel in Bariloche Argentina, a city in Patagonia that offered almost all of the same amenities as a 3 to 4 star hotel. This included 24 hour front desk service, a locker with a lock for personal gear, desktop computers with free internet service, free full breakfast (eggs, pancakes, cereal, fruit, drinks) between 7 – 8 am, tour booking assistance, cable TV, and even a balcony offering views of the ocean. Sure, the room I stayed in had 4 beds available for any traveler to book, but let’s face it, anyone looking to stay in a hostel is not looking to spend any part of their day living there. Instead, they are probable only looking for a place to get a few hours rest between their busy schedules. How much did a place like this cost per night you ask? Try $26.00/person/night.
Another common misconception about hostels is that the person working behind the front desk is a local that couldn’t care any less about you or your safety. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In my experience the front desk workers are actually world travelers just like yourself who have found a love for the country or city of which you are looking to stay, and decided to work there for a period of time in order to do some more traveling in the area themselves. Many times these people are college students looking to work abroad for their summer break. No matter who they are, they always hold a vast knowledge of the local area and are always willing to suggest travel ideas to a fellow world traveler.
The choice to stay in a hostel or a hotel is one that must be made (or at least should be) before you arrive in the country or city you are visiting. In order to help you decide further I’ve broken down a list of which amenities each usually includes.
|A Place to Sleep||X||X|
|24 HR Reception||X||X|
|Tour Booking Assistance||X||X|
|Internet Access (sometimes WIFI)||X||X|
|Bathroom/Showers||X (But Dorm Room Style)||X (Private)|
|PRICE RANGE||$7 – $140 /night||$65 – $200+ /night|
**Based on personal experience in hostels and 4-star hotels. Minimum price based on full inclusion of above amenities, maximum price may (and probably does) include more (private rooms, spa access, etc).
Overall, the decision to stay in a hostel or a hotel depends on what you’re looking to get out of your trip. Are you looking to stay out all day and into the night in order to truly experience the city you are visiting the way the locals experience it? If so, a hostel would be a great affordable choice for you. Or are you looking for the all-inclusive resort where you can lounge by the pool while sipping margaritas in the sun all day long? If so, the hotel is certainly the better choice for you, but at least now you have some basic knowledge to get you started on making your decision.