I’ve been in a lot of hostels while traveling. Some were really great and others were a total mess.
I always look for comments on recent stays before booking a hostel, both for the nice ones and for the bad ones. Personnally, I prefer an experience in a hostel with the greatest reviews but sometimes my budget doesn’t allow me to go for the nicer one.
It’s worst when comments are shared: when half say the hostel is awesome, and the other say it’s awful. Generally, my own experience is shared: there are both really great and really bad points. And sometimes, it all depends on the people with whom I’m staying with.
But here are the general pros and cons of living in a hostel.
First of all, hostels are cheap. When you’re traveling short-term on a budget, hostels are nearly always the best. Some exceptions apply, but looking for a hostel is a good start. You get a bed, shower, Wi-Fi, and even breakfast sometimes. Plus, they are often centrally located which means it’s easy to walk around.
Hostels are ideal to meet new people. To socialize. To befriend. To enjoy other cultures. For people who want to meet a travel buddy, it’s perfect! For those who want to have a nice chat, even only the time of an evening, it’s perfect! And for people who want other travelers opinion about this or that, it’s perfect! If socializing is your thing, hostels are the perfect accomodation to get. And if you’re not into it, well it put you out of your comfort zone.
Some hostels organize activities in which not only can you meet people but in which you can have fun too! Some are focused on socializing while some offer free walking tours or can be axed on cultural events.
If you’re looking for a job, this is the place to head. About half of the hostels I stayed in had job offers on their dashboard. Whether they are looking for receptionists or barman/aid, to organize tours, to help on social media or on marketing, your habilities are more than welcome.
This one is for solo female traveler: there are dorms for female only. It’s okay if you’re not comfortable with sharing your room with males, so there is always the possibility to share it with women only. Usually, the cost isn’t higher.
Finally, having a kitchen available is a huge plus to reduce your expenses. Avoiding going out every night is a must if you’re traveling on a budget.
Expect to be always in your bags. There aren’t drawers to put your clothes in, bathrooms are shared which means that yeah you need to keep your shampoo and your soap with you all the time, and that there’s no place for your toothbrush. Believe it or not, but Tetris is your new favorite game.
There are noisy people. I wish there weren’t but it’s part of the game. There are people who naturally speak really loud, there are the ones who come back drunk at 3:00 am, there are snorers who can’t let you sleep, and there are multiple alarm clock at different hours.
Cleanliness depend on both the travelers and the hostel policy. I’ve lived in hostels where the kitchen was the responsability of the users only and it was a total mess. I couldn’t even use it! And prepare yourself because there are people who apparently don’t know how to pee either. Yep.
Unfortunately, hostels aren’t everywhere. There were charming villages in which I would have love to stop sometimes, but the lack of hostels made it impossible to me to stay there.
My final point is about your intimacy. Forget it. Most of the time, you’ll be surrounded by 10 people, maybe more. While some might not mind, wondering naked in your room isn’t always appreciated by others, nor is the one who is having sex in a dorm of 22 people trying to sleep.
Honestly, both pros and cons aren’t that good or bad. Actually, you usually get used to them. It defines your new “normal” while you’re traveling. However, it all depends on your expectations. If they are high, you’ll probably end up disappointed, but if you don’t have any, you’ll probably be nicely suprised of what hostels can offer.
What is your opinion about sleeping in a hostel?