What is a hostel and why to stay in it?
Hostel accommodation becoming more and more popular! Especially European hostels reached lately so high standard of offered services that there is no exception to feeling like in a 4-star hotel when you pick some of this high standard property for your stay! Are you curious about what is a hostel in Europe? If so, read further!
Whether you are a young or middle age backpacker like me, staying in a hostel could become so fantastic experience that it could have an impact on your whole stay significantly! Would you like to hear more about the hostel accommodation for you to decide to stay in some? It is your answer yes, read further!
A hostel is a form of low-cost, short-term shared sociable lodging where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed in a dormitory, with shared use of a lounge and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex and have private or shared bathrooms.
Private rooms may also be available, but the property must offer dormitories to be considered a hostel. Hostels are popular forms of lodging for backpackers, cycle tourists, and gap year, travelers. The benefits of hostels include lower costs and opportunities to meet people from all over the world, find travel partners, and share travel ideas.
I remember the time apr. 15 years ago when saying “hostel” was almost a rude word. Also, the movie Hostel from the director Eli Roth did not serve very well the hostel operators, and based on many people opinion was staying in a hostel almost life treat experience (much more in their imagination than in reality).
What has changed since then and why staying in a hostel becoming so pleasant experience lately? If you have visited some hostel anywhere in Europe in past 5 years (I did this a few years ago as you can read in one of my previous blog posts), you would probably notice the quality and count of fantastic hostel properties raised rapidly.
Truth is, some of those hostels were there already a long time, but they were rapidly renovated so it could now compete with newer properties or hostel chains, those have often very high standards of the design, interiors, offered services, and staff behavior. Newer hostels focus on a more trendy design interior, some of which are on par with boutique hotels. Some may cater to older digital nomads, global nomads, and perpetual travelers that prefer slightly more upmarket private rooms or a quieter atmosphere.
It is great the hostel operators conclude eventually that having a hostel does not mean lack of service and old squeaky beds, but became quite focused on the services offered, sometimes even original concept of the hostels (e.g. capsules bed, etc.). A 2013 study in Australia showed that youth travel was the fastest-growing travel demographic and that the hostel industry was growing at a faster rate than the hotel industry!
Most of the hostels offering linen and towels to be included in the price, lockers for your stuff, meals during the day (some of them even for free ) and organizing a lot of activities like movie nights, bar crawls, wine tasting and much more. Staff on the reception become your close friends after a few days in such a hostel, most of the staff are backpackers too so they know very well how to act and serve you!
There is a lot of hostels in Europe that have fully equipped shared kitchen so guests could easily cook their food in it, organizing BBC‘s on the terrace or garden or offering a pool or sauna for its guests. Some hostels offering bar, nightclub, restaurant or café. It is not an exception they are very well located within the city center or easy reach.
It is also really interesting to see that in London or Paris you can find a lack of hostels. But there is expected this kind of accommodation will raise further on (and we can see this trend currently) in these destinations as well. Still, you can find some solid hostels in Paris and in London, truth is Bed and breakfast or normal hotel are the more traditional type of accommodation in those destinations.
There are approximately 10,000 hostels in Europe and approximately 300 hostels in the United States. The typical guest is between 16 and 34 years old. Many hostels are locally owned and operated, and are often cheaper for both the operator and occupants than hotels. Hostels may offer long-term lodging to guests for free or at a discount in exchange for work as a receptionist or housekeeping.
For longer traveling, you can use very often laundry, most of the hostels allowing longer stay so no worry to be thrown up from the hostel after a few days.
Are you curious about the disadvantage of staying in a hostel? Are there even any? Of course, they are and I also faced some issues during staying in hostels – some could be solved quite quickly, some not. In general, the backpacker could face the following problems:
There is less privacy in a hostel than in a hotel. Sharing sleeping areas in a dormitory and bathrooms might not be comfortable for those requiring more privacy. However, the shared lodging makes it easier to meet new people (and are also, sometimes significantly cheaper). Some hostels encourage more social interaction between guests due to the shared sleeping areas and communal areas. Lounges typically have sofas and chairs, coffee tables, board games, books or book exchange, computers, and Internet access.
Nearly all hostels have a shared communal kitchen area for the preparation of food and a storage area with refrigerators. Most hostels have a label system to identify the owner of the food. Some hostels will have a labeled “free shelf” where guests can leave unwanted food. Theft of food can happen.
Noise can make sleeping difficult, whether from snoring, talking and social activities in the lounge, people staying up to read with the light on, someone either returning late from bars or leaving early. To mitigate the effects, many guests use earplugs and blindfolds.
When you pick a hostel for your next stay e.g. in a European city, read carefully what saying former visitors reviews – there could reveal most of the problems this hostel has (limited front desk hours, dirty or lack of bathrooms, missing shared kitchen, etc.). When you pick some hostel based on our recommendation and our blog post, we have prepared the pros and cons for each of the property so you can easily see the most troubles and advantages of the chosen property.
So you can see whether is the hostel centrally located (so you can save money for public transport and make walking exercise within the city), whether is breakfast, linen and towels in the price or are paid extra (based on that you can find our how many things you should pack with you if you need a padlock for keeping your stuff safe, etc.).
If I could speak for myself when I picking the hostel for me before traveling anywhere, I am looking mainly for the location so it is near strategic place (not necessarily right in the city center, but e.g. close to the bus stop for the airport transport or train station if I plan to travel more than only within the chosen city). Overall I am looking for the best value for the price.
As a breakfast lover, I always looking for a property that offering breakfast for free or for a small fee (sometimes could be the price for breakfast ridiculous – meant a negative and positive way). From my previous experience, it would be my concern whether there is any nightclub as a direct part of the property because let’s be honest, if you have all day sightseeing ahead of you, you want to sleep at least a few hours.
For solo travelers is easier to choose the dorm as they simply travel alone. On the other side, they never know who they met in the dorm. I prefer staying in mixed dorms, but there are often also female-only dorms for female travelers available (for women to feel safer).
As I like to chat with guys I, therefore, prefer 4-bed mixed dorms, which is not always a lucky choice as I have experienced in Stockholm in 2019, but this could be valid for female travelers as well as happened to me in London in 2018 when whole night come tourist to the room and was almost impossible to sleep (other than that was the stay satisfying and roommates were nice and kind).
What I am trying to say it sometimes matters of luck which kind of people you meet in the hostel (I have 90% good experience all over), proper check of the property before you travel is the base for having a good experience. Not all hostels are party hostels, most of them are not.
I can assure you picking an 8-bed dorm for your stay could cause more troubles than picking a 4-bed dorm as I used to. But, there could be a different experience each time (picking more bed dorm is a better idea for a bunch of friends that know each other well and for people that don’t care what other people do and how noisy they are, but this is not my case, to be honest).
I recommend everyone staying in a hostel when traveling. Where else you could find so great people, that are also on their journeys (so you have at least one thing in common)? Saving money, knowing the visited place and have a great time in the property you spend your nights in… this is just a few things you can enjoy when staying in a hostel.
Hopefully, this post showed you well that it is worth considering and in case of any further questions, do not hesitate to turn on us via the comment below the post. We are here to advise and help!
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