I have stayed in hostels many many times, yep. In the shared dorm, yes. How many of you are going ‘eeew’ now? Hello, snobs :) No, no, don’t get me wrong: if you ask me where I’d love to stay I would never say ‘in a hostel, bring it on!’, no. I love the comfort and a five-star hotel in the city centre would be a fantastic choice but if we talk budget travel we don’t talk five-star hotels, right?
My first time
I remember my very first time staying in a hostel. It was in Montenegro. Initially, I came to stay with my mum in a small village, but I got bored to death on the second day. I wanted to explore the country, to see places. It was back in the day when you would go to an Internet cafe to get online. A brief search at hostel.com and I booked my stay in a few more places. I had no idea what to expect, but it was cheap and I decided that I could cope with a bed in a dorm for the sake of exploring. This was the beginning of the end haha: those hostel experiences pushed me to travel more! I met a bunch of great people and had a really great time as if I travelled with friends and ever since I stayed in hostels a lot: Brussels, Amsterdam, Krakow, Madrid, Bilbao, Milan, Berlin, Edinburgh, London, Istanbul, Delhi, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minn, Chiang Mai and God knows what else I don’t remember. I think the first stay in Montenegro was the best. And I did have some really bad experiences with the hostels.
What is it?
But let’s start with the basics: what is a hostel? From what I have heard from my friends they are very squeamish about the hostels because they imagine the shittiest shit hole with bunk-beds, rats, criminals and drug addicts. <insert a facepalm smiley>
No, this is a very wrong image. A hostel is a cheap place to stay, it usually consists of dorms (a room with bunk-beds and lockers for your luggage), shared bathroom and shared showers, sometimes it has a kitchen. It is perfect for young backpackers. The idea is that you leave your luggage there and come to sleep because most of the time you are supposed to explore the city. Hostels quite often have a bar or a common area so that it’s easy to meet fellow travellers.
Yes, you don’t have any privacy, it might be tough for light sleepers. The bigger the room – the noisier, obviously. Shared facilities (you will be surprised) are almost always (in my experience) really well looked after. Bring your flip-flops for the shower, that’s basic common sense, yes? By the way, you will have to have your own shampoo and towel because usually, hostels don’t provide it.
Why to chose a hostel?
If your main focus is to travel places but you are tight on a budget hostel can be a perfect solution. You can also meet great people and make new friends (true story). When I first came to Edinburgh I stayed at St. Christopher’s Hostel right by the central station. A week in the very very centre of Edinburgh was less than €100. That’s quite a sweet deal, trust me! It was Belushi’s bar downstairs where we met with Andrew on my very first night and look where this stay in a hostel took me! Fell in love, got married, moved to Edinburgh, got a cat!
How bad can it be?
Some of the hostels in Asia wouldn’t change the bedding after the guest leaves. When I saw that I actually couldn’t believe my eyes, that’s a real EEEW! A few times I got some things stolen (Russian money went missing from my passport cover in a hostel in Kuala Lumpur. Unfortunately, I discovered it when I was to get a taxi in Moscow. But that was my bad: don’t leave money or equipment outside the locker. In Chiang Mai, my favourite TNF jacket went missing one day. Oh well, at least not the iPad :) But those are the only incidents that happened during all my travel time. In London, I had the horrible experience with the staff and the management. That was very unfortunate because I wanted to write this article based on that hostel and specifically chose it for my stay in September. But oh well, their loss (and minus good one point on booking.com, you are welcome assholes).
So, yes or no?
If you want to travel more than to stay in fancy places: YES!
If you can keep up with noise at night and don’t mind to share facilities: YES!
If you are young and you just start to explore the world: a big big YES!
If you are a princess and a TV in a room is more important for you than the sightseeing, well, it’s a NO then.
Would I stay in a hostel again?
Probably no. I think I have done my bit and now I do want comfort and privacy. I definitely would stay in a hostel with a group of friends so that we take the entire room, then it’s different:)
Do you have hostel experience? What would you say?
xx, love, Liza