The first time I mentioned to my friends that I would be staying in hostels on my travels, I was met with looks of disapproval and questions of concern.
“Are you sure that’s safe?”
“Aren’t hostels dirty?”
“What about bed bugs?”
“What if your stuff gets stolen?”
I’ll be honest, before staying in my first hostel, I also had the same concerns and I didn’t quite know what to expect.
But at the time of me writing this post, I have stayed in a total of 10 hostels and I’ve got 3 more booked for my trips coming up.
Conclusion: I freaking love hostels!!
So much so that I actually prefer hostels over hotels.
…and here are 5 genuine reasons why you should stay in a hostel instead of a hotel.
1 – Cost
This is obviously the main reason why people choose to stay in hostels – they’re super cheap.
When traveling, accommodation can be one of your biggest costs, but by switching to a hostel, accommodation can be one of your lowest costs.
On average, I pay around €20 per night for a hostel located in a city center where all the tourist attractions are within walking distance – and sometimes, I even get a free breakfast thrown in.
The cheapest hostel (and one of the best) hostels that I have stayed in was in Budapest, located right next to a museum in the city center. I paid around 2500HUF per night, which is equivalent to about €7.50/$8.25. (It was the Budapest Bubble in case you’re interested)
It really is that cheap!
No matter how long I scour the internet for, or how many ‘last-minute deal’ notifications I sign up for, I would never get a hotel for that price.
Not in a million years!
So, how come hostel prices are this low?
Hostels can afford to offer such low rates because you are effectively sharing your room cost with other people.
For example, your room may hold up to 8 beds (4 bunk beds). 8 people x €20 per night = €160 – which is roughly the same cost as a decent hotel room. This allows the hostel to function similarly to a hotel in terms of service, such as daily room cleans, 24-hour reception, and, of course, free wi-fi!
2 – The good ones are clean and safe
Don’t believe all the stories that you hear about hostels being dirty and unsafe. As always, the media likes to promote the negatives – a hostel being clean isn’t going to go viral on social media.
So far, I have not had an unpleasant stay in a hostel. The beds have always been freshly changed, the bathrooms have been clean, and I’ve always had access to a locker or somewhere safe to store my belongings.
I’m sure that there are bad hostels out there – the same as there are bad hotels. But as long as you book a hostel that has had numerous positive reviews, you can’t really go wrong.
When I’m searching for hostels, I like to use HostelWorld.
Here, I can search through hundreds of different hostels located all over the world and filter results based on price, location, and the average review rating.
Each hostel has lots of photos and clear information on what’s included and what’s not. It’s really easy to find a hostel that suits.
TIP: Get a well-reviewed hostel and you can’t go wrong.
3 – It’s not about where you go, it’s about the people you meet
This is one of the main reasons why I love staying in hostels – especially as a solo traveler.
You’ll meet people from all over the world.
The difference in culture and language can make for some really interesting dorm room conversations.
In a hotel, I’d be sat in a room on my own. In a hostel, I come back to a group of people all asking where I’ve been that day and what sights I’ve seen.
It’s a wonderful way to get travel tips and share information about the area.
Do you need to know the best way to get to the airport or a great place for food? Just ask around. Your roommates, as well as hostel staff, will be able to give you tips to help make your trip easier and more enjoyable.
“But Roz, I don’t know the people that I am sharing my room with…”
Well, that’s right, you don’t know them. They could be anyone. But if I’ve learned one thing from traveling this year, it’s that most humans on this planet are kind, genuine, and helpful people.
Most of the other people that you’ll find in hostels are traveling solo, and they’re more than happy to chat, give travel advice, and make friends.
Still, be sensible and don’t do anything stupid or dangerous, but remember that not everyone is out to get you.
4 – Safety in numbers
Believe it or not, I feel safer staying in a hostel than in a hotel.
Allow me to explain.
Say something happened to me one evening whilst I was out exploring a new city and I never made it back to the hostel. The other travelers staying in my dorm room may notice that I didn’t come back that night.
If I was staying in a hotel, no one would know I was missing until I failed to check out – and that could be several days away.
In a hostel, my other roommates may be able to provide valuable information such as where I was planning on going that day, or what clothes I was wearing when I went out.
These trivial things may not seem like much, but they could make a big difference.
Although I am always traveling alone, as soon as I have made friends with my roommates in the hostel, I don’t feel as though I am alone. People know who I am, where I’m from, and what I plan on doing – this helps me to feel safer.
5 – Quirks
Hotels can be very predictable and very boring. Once you’ve been in one, you’ve been in them all.
Hostels, on the other hand, are unique.
They each have their own style and stamp.
Some of the features from past hostels that I have stayed in include a games room, a hammock room, umbrellas on the ceiling, walls that have been decorated by street artists, and beach themed roof-top bars.
The public spaces are creative, innovative, and fresh.
No whitewashed walls or heavily patterned carpets. Instead, expect to see bean bags, bright colors, and a much more relaxed and edgy vibe.
Truth? There is a negative to staying in hostels
I am going to be honest about hostel life and tell you that there is a negative point – and it’s one where hotels trump.
The reason why staying in a hostel is so amazing is because you are staying with other people – this helps cut the cost and enriches the experience.
But the negative of staying in a hostel is that you are staying with other people…
If you’re in an 8-bed dorm filled with travelers, someone is going to be checking in late, someone is going to be up at 4am to catch a flight, and someone is going to come in late after experiencing the city’s nightlife.
Although most people are courteous and avoid turning the lights on and try to be as quiet as possible, they’re not ghosts. They’re going to make some noise whilst accidentally flashing their phone light into your eyes a few times whilst you’re trying to sleep.
That’s just inevitable and there’s nothing that you can do about it. It’s just one of those things.
On the flip side, there is going to come a time when you have to get up for an early flight, and you’re going to be fumbling around in the dark trying to get ready whilst not waking everyone up.
But if you can put up with this minor inconvenience, then I would definitely urge you to book into a hostel on your next trip.
I’d book a hostel every time
Let’s face it, hostels are basic. There’s no TV in the room, no sofa and dressing table – but they have everything that you need.
And to be honest, I don’t fly off to another country to sit in a room and watch TV! I want to be out of the room for as long as possible exploring and having a mini-adventure.
When I first started traveling in 2017, I would not have been able to afford to travel to so many places if I didn’t stay in hostels. The cost of hotel rooms in European capital cities would have wiped me out.
Imagine how many more trips you could take if instead of paying €100 per night, you were paying €20 per night…
Have you stayed in hostels before? Let me know of your #HostelLife experiences in the comments below.