Everybody knows hostels are cheaper than hotels. It’s a great reason to choose them when travelling however that’s not the only reason they’re so popular among backpackers. In fact a couple of week ago I made a bold claim to my brother. I confessed that even if I won £1million I would still choose to stay in hostels most of the time. It sounds ridiculous but whilst the lower price tag is alluring, it isn’t the only quality I prefer in hostels. These are the things I love about hostels and the reasons I continue to save money by choosing them over hotels.
Hostels are jam packed with other travellers. You get to meet so many like minded people but from a whole selection of different backgrounds. This is especially great if you are a solo traveller. Rather than sit in your room alone and bored you can meet new friends and socialize. Backpackers are, as a whole, really open and supportive people. We look out for each other and share what little we have, from travel tips to inspiration and stories. There’s been so many things I’ve done and seen which was off the back of a recommendation from another backpacker in a hostel.
The fact that hostels are usually run by other backpackers adds to this community spirit. There is no staff and guest divide as everyone uses the same communal areas. Everyone who stays in a hostel becomes partly responsible for it’s upkeep as there is no room service or kitchen staff. If you use it’s dishes you must clean them up. (We hate those people who leave their dirty dishes everywhere as if there IS a magic cleaning fairy!) We all work together to create the welcoming space that is the hostel.
Hostels often have various events and activities arranged throughout the week. These are a great way to meet new people and also just something free or cheap to do for a few hours. There are days when you’re travelling where you do just want a quiet evening in. Other times you want a crazy night with a few laughs. In a hotel it’s all very well having a TV in your room but do you really just want to watch TV alone each night? The entertainment can range from movie nights to beer pong. Especially during high season hostels will sometimes have a different activity planned each night of the week. If you’re lucky they may even involve prizes. It’s a great way to get involved and is the perfect way to fill the evenings.
Hostels are designed for backpackers. Therefore they are equipped with all the facilities we need, from kitchens to laundry rooms. The things I love most though, are the additional touches which give the hostel character and make it feel homely. When backpacking the world with minimal possessions it’s these extra comforts which you crave.
- Book Exchange
- Record Player
- Games Console
- Ping Pong
These are just some of the facilities various hostels may have. It’s these things which makes your stay and your travels easier. I love reading whilst travelling so being able to swap my book for a new one at my hostel is ideal. I think these touches are so important because even whilst you’re travelling sometimes you need a quiet afternoon at your hostel. Backpacker burn out is a very real and very serious condition. By having some facilities in the hostel it means it becomes a fun and comfortable place to hang out and recharge.
Freebies is backpackers favourite word. I kid you not. If you were to stand in the middle of a hostel and yell freebies. You would get trampled. Hostels, know how much we love freebies so they often use it to their advantage. Similar to hotels you can get free tea and coffee, some even provide free hot chocolate (those are my favourite hostels.) A free breakfast is also commonly offered. I’m not going to lie. You shouldn’t expect a Full English but free food is free food! The kitchen also normally has a wonderful little box too which is labelled free food. This is a box people leave unwanted food when leaving. If you’re lucky you can bag yourself some pasta and sauce and your dinner is sorted!
If you join in with the evening programmes you can also get in with a shot of some freebies. If you’re hostel has a bar attached and you win an activity you can normally get a free drink. However, if it’s a bigger hostel and a bigger competition the prizes grow too. I once came 1 marshmallow away from winning a White Water Rafting trip. I was gutted but had a good night none the less.
The way hostels are set up, it is very difficult not to be sociable. Dorm rooms, communal kitchen and common areas encourage interaction between guests. This means that you’re bound to meet new people and make connections. I always find the staff so friendly and approachable meaning you can always find any help should you need it. As I said before as soon as you step into a hostel you are part of the community. Then it becomes a lot easier to start chatting to people. You’ll also realise you only need to ask one questions to start any conversation. Where are you from?
Hostels offer so much more freedom during your stay. Simply by having a kitchen in your hostel you suddenly have more options for meals. The dorm rooms themselves also have variety to provide guests with choices. Rooms range from private twin rooms to large dorms. The largest dorm I’ve ever stayed in personally was 32 beds. You can choose a dorm with an en suite or not and some hostels offer female only rooms.
All this choice means you choose the option which makes you most comfortable. Personally I am normally happy to go with the cheapest option however not everyone is. I know travellers who do prefer female only dorms or want their dorm to have an en suite. It is just about what makes you most comfortable.
I have stayed in so many hostels and they’re all so different. There are some hostel brands which you can find across countries which have some sense of consistency. However most hostels have individual touches. You never know what to expect and I have been pleasantly surprised so many times. Hotels are smart and well decorated but they are normally limited when it comes to character. Hostels however have bucket loads of it.
It seems it’s possible to turn any old building into a hostel. From jails to convents there are some unusual places you can stay the night. In Rotorua I stayed in a traditional ancestral house which was set up as dorm room accommodation with 16 beds. It was a really fun place to stay and so culturally different. Meanwhile in Gisborne I stayed in a converted convent! That was unusual, although a bit spooky.
Have you stayed in a hostel before? What’s you’re favourite thing about them?