So far, C and I have mostly been staying in hostels. My only experience of hostelling wasn’t great and consisted of staying in a 20 bed dorm room; it was too hot, everybody snored and there were vomit covered sheets in the hallway! Not a great reference point for spending the next twelve months in hostels.
We can assure you, not all hostels are like this. So if you have a similar idea about hostelling this will hopefully help ease your mind and bust some of those myths.
There are only 20-bed dorms in hostels! I don’t want to sleep on a bunk bed.
OK, yes. The most common room style in hostels is dorm rooms. But dorms can be anywhere from 3 up to 24 people per room. This normally (but not always) means bunk beds. There are also different types of bunk bed from the standard “top and bottom” to a triple decker. A vast number of hostels also have private twin or double rooms.
I’ll have to take my own bedding
You shouldn’t need to take a sleeping bag as nearly all hostels will provide linen free of charge. As hostels rely heavily on online ratings, cleanliness tends to be good although make sure you read reviews before you book! Bedbugs can be a problem, but most places will bend over backwards to clean everything if you find them.
I’ll be surrounded by people trying to ‘find themselves’
The stereotypical image of the guests that frequent hostels is young, free-loving hippies that play the guitar and smoke medicinal herbs. Now we’re not saying that there definitely won’t be anyone like that, just that they are not the norm. Hostels are a hive of people of all ages from different cultures, countries and backgrounds. We have seen singles, couples, groups of friends and even families with young children. Hostels are simply a cheaper way to stay and some are actually nicer than “cheap” hotels!
Hostels are so cheap, there must not be any ‘extras’.
With most hostels the formula is “you get what you pay for”. So for instance if you only pay £7 for a private double room, don’t expect WiFi or breakfast. However the vast majority of hostels will offer free WiFi and will either have a kitchen in which you can cook or have its own restaurant/bar (some even have both!). Lots include free breakfast and many offer tours, food nights or bar crawls and a few even have pools.
People will steal my belongings
Another thing we have heard concerns over, is how secure are your valuables? There are a number of different ways hostels approach this: from lockers, to locks on doors, key code or wristband entry on the main doors and, in the slightly more expensive hostels, 24hr CCTV. Some lockers even back onto electrical sockets so you an charge your tablet whilst it kept secure.
Hostels can’t afford to advertise on the internet
There are a number of ways, each with benefits and drawbacks, to book a room in a hostel. We mostly use Booking.com, Hostelworld and Hostelbookers to find nice hostels in nice locations. We find locating a hostel via these sites and then visiting the hostel’s own site can often be cheaper, as the hostel passes the booking fee on to you. If the hostel doesn’t have a website, and you are willing to risk turning up without a booking in order to save some money, you will find that many hostel walk-in rates are cheaper than online.
Why would I want to stay in a hostel?
Over time, we have realised what matters to us personally when looking for a hostel. This list will look different for everyone depending on budget, personality, reason for traveling etc., but these are our must-haves;
•Free and fast WiFi
•A free to use kitchen to cook our own meals
•Near public transport links
•Plug sockets, reading lights and shelves for each bed.
Hopefully this brief look at hostelling will have dispelled some of the concerns you may have had. Now all you need to do is get booking and get hostelling!
Have you got any more questions about hostels? We’d love to hear about any fantastic (or horrible) experiences you’ve had while hostelling.