How to Stay in a Hostel
Hostels are a great alternative to hotels for many different types of travelers ranging from solo travelers to family travel. They provide cheap, affordable accommodations and can be a great resource for a more local experience (local restaurants, nightlife, etc.). They are the best way to travel for solo travelers, not just because of the low per person prices but because of the community-based feel of hostels. In this quick guide on how to stay in a hostel, we cover how to find good hostels, travel tips, what to expect when staying at a hostel.
Disclosure: All views, opinions and suggestions are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission on purchases made through recommended product links at no additional cost to you.
What Are Hostels
Hostels come in many different types of accommodations. They range from dorm style rooms, to bed and breakfast to budget hotel rooms.
There are several different types of hostels, however, the typical hostels are dorm style rooms with a number of twin or full sized beds (some are bunk beds) in a single room. You typically share the room with other travelers and can be co-ed or single sexed rooms. You can find female only rooms, male only rooms and mixed rooms. Some hostels also provide private rooms if you prefer to not share sleeping quarters.
Hostels usually have communal spaces, such as kitchen, recreation room, lounge room, TV or game rooms. In addition to the shared sleeping spaces, the communal rooms are a great place to kick back, relax and meet fellow travelers.
Pricing Structure Of Hostels
Unlike hotels who charge per room by night, hostels charge by person by night. If the per night price is $10 and you are staying for 3 nights, traveling with a friend, the cost of a hostel would be $10 x 3 nights x 2 people = $60 total for the two of you.
Because you are sharing your room with other people, some hostels provide lockers to store your luggage while you are out. Check the Hostel’s detail page on what they provide.
Benefits of Hostels
Very Affordable Prices
Most people would say that the primary benefit of hostels are that they are very affordable. Even with the per person pricing structure, hostels are usually 3 times cheaper than hotels in the same area.
Social and Easy To Meet Fellow Travelers
I personally like the community and social aspect of staying in hostels. Hanging out in the common areas you’re bound to strike up a conversation with a fellow travel about their travel stories and next day’s plan. Depending on the hostel, some will put together family style dinners, social outings and/or other group events. This is a good way to hang out and have fun in a new city. Most hostels in Europe, for example, will get a group together to go out to a local restaurant and/or bar and/or club to party all night. It’s a good way to hit up the night scene with people who know their way around and have fellow travelers to hang out with when your friends are back home.
You don’t have to travel alone. Hostels are loaded with solo or double travelers who are easy to connect with. Hotels are usually bigger, more private and have a mix of business, family and other types of travelers. It’s more difficult to meet and talk with people. Because hostels have this social aspect to them, it’s great for solo travelers.
Instead of being alone in your hotel room, eating alone and relaxing alone, you meet, eat and speak to fellow travelers. The best part is you’re most likely going to meet people who want to go to all the same sites so you can plan to go together. I always find one or two other people to go exploring with. We’ll travel together for as long as our agendas are the same then split ways when we have different plans.
Sacrifices of Hostels
Unless you book a private room, you’re sharing your room with other people. You’re also sharing the bathroom. This means little to no privacy. It can also mean that people can come in and out of the room at different times, even while you’re sleeping (I find that people are very respectful at night hours, coming in silently and not turning on the lights of you’re in bed).
Hostels usually lack amenities such as gym, restaurants, room service, spa, etc. Hostels are budget, dorm style accommodations. Note that most hostels do not provide towels and soap. Some allow you to rent a towel for a fee.
See Hostel Packing List below for additional items needed for your stay – skip to skip to below
How To Make Reservations For A Hostels
I use HostelWorld to search and book Hostels
Put on your location, dates and number of people and a list of hostels will appear. Prices are shown per night per person.
Tips For Booking
1. Read the latest reviews on hostel world.
Read the reviews of people who have stayed recently but also sort the reviews to read the lowest/bad reviews. This way you can know the good, bad and worst. You’ll know what to expect. Keep in mind that one person’s worst reviews can be someone who just happened to have a bad experience and not be 100% of how that hostel is run. But if you see a pattern of people mentioning that same bad items, then you know and can decide if that’s OK with you.
2. Look at reviews from other sources with a more lenient eye
When you narrowed down which hostel you want, check out the reviews on trip advisor and/or Google. The difference here are the type of people you’re getting the reviews from. People who use HostelWorld.com are most likely seasoned travelers who use hostels more frequently. When you look at other sources for reviews, they maybe a bit more harsher since hostels are not as nice as a typical hotel. Keep this in mind. It’s still a good resource to find out specifics of the hostel.
3. Check out pictures
Check out pictures from travelers not just from management. This goes for booking hotels too. Management will of course post pictures that show the property in the best way possible. Look at pictures
Hostels on the other hand, are geared towards travelers that are there to explore the city. The rooms and communal areas are great places to meet and talk with others about their travels.
Hostel Packing List – Additional Items needed for your stay
Hostels are different from hostels in that a few standard items are not generally provided in hostels. So if you’re planning on including hostels into your travel plans, be sure to pack these little extras to make your stay more comfortable:
Quick dry towels
Lock for Lockers
Flip-flops for Shower
Comfy clothes that you wear at home, not out to a bar or to visit friends. You start to realize how travel clothes are different from everyday travel/dress to impress