What Are Hostels Like and Should You Book One?

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You’re likely traveling and want to save a lot of money on accommodation.

Or, you may want to have an extra opportunity to meet new people.

Then you more than likely heard the word ‘hostel’ in movies or conversations.

You may have heard a lot of horror stories about staying in them. Conversely, not all of them are true. And you may not suffer the same experience.

You will need to learn what hostels are and prepare yourself to stay in one to prevent those stories from happening.

Throughout this guide to hostels, I will cover what hostels are, tips to optimize your stay in a hostel, and frequently asked questions to better prepare you for your next visit.

What Is a Hostel?

A hostel is a form of accommodation that offers low-cost rates at the expense of the perks usually provided by hotels. Moreover, hostels offer a dormitory-style sleeping area filled with bunk beds that are typically sectioned off.

Hostels act as an excellent means of accommodation for solo travelers or those who want a sociable lodging experience.

How Many Types of Hostels Are There?

There are numerous types of hostels—whether they’re themed or aimed at a particular demographic. Below, you will find six examples of different hostel types.

Boutique hostels: these well-designed flashpacking counterparts offer a little affordability while providing a lot of comforts. Many may compare the luxury of these hostels to that of hotels.

Luxury hostels are excellent for flashpackers—those who love to travel in style.

Party hostels: owners of these establishments focus on younger travelers, which means that they organize events, are louder, and potentially have a lot more alcohol.

You’ll love party hostels if you’re a party animal.

Eco-hostels: these hostels aim to cut down their carbon footprint as much as possible. For instance, they weave measures into their operations like offering locally grown food and fair trade coffee. Moreover, they usually host workshops to teach travelers about eco-living and how they can help the environment.

Eco-hostels act as excellent lodging for those who want to help preserve the environment.

Activity hostels: these backpacker hostels offer specific themes like diving, surfing, and more to entice particular niches that people love.

If you want to find a particular group of people to socialize with, activity hostels will be the best place for you.

Cheap hostels: they offer the lowest rates around at the expense of comfort and potentially safety.

Only opt for cheap hostels if you want to save every penny possible and are okay with potentially finding yourself in a dangerous situation.

Family hostels: these facilities usually offer larger spaces for families and include areas like game rooms. Moreover, they enforce stricter rules, such as earlier curfews.

These hostels are great for families. However, you may want to review your options.

What Does a Private Room Mean When Booking a Hostel?

A private hostel room is a room similar to what you’d find in a hotel. It’s a room dedicated to you and your group.

However, you will likely still have to deal with shared bathrooms and kitchens. Moreover, you will have to pay more for these rooms than a bunk bed in the dormitory area.

In short, in private hostel rooms, you will have no bunk beds and no snoring strangers.

Tips for Staying in a Hostel for Your First Time

Explore these eight tips and tricks to prepare yourself for most situations that’ll happen during your stay in a hostel. These tips range from keeping yourself safe to practicing good hostel etiquette.

1. How to Sleep Well in a Hostel

After a day of adventuring or a flight that feels like it took forever, you’ll want to make sure that you wake up the next day refreshed. However, you’ll encounter sleep deterrents like snoring neighbors or disrespectful people who blast their music when staying in a hostel.

Moreover, you may feel the adrenaline pumping through your veins at the thought of being in a potentially dangerous area.

The following are valuable travel tips you should consider to ensure that you have a better sleep:

  • Avoid party hostels: the loud noise will keep you awake
  • Wear earplugs: to block the growling snores of your neighbor
  • Take melatonin: aim for 5 mg of this sleep-aid supplement at least 30 minutes before bed
  • Wear an eye mask: use it to shield your eyes from hallway lights
  • Minimize jet lag: adjust your sleep schedule before leaving home (if possible)
  • Hide your belongings well: that way, you don’t have to worry about a thief stealing your stuff while you sleep

2. Secure Your Belongings

When staying in a modern hostel, you will find that many of them have lockers or vaults for each person. Conversely, they may not be big enough to store all of your bags. In that scenario, you may want to consider using a luggage storage service to keep your valuables safe and use the vault for clothing, toiletries, and other essentials like your phone.

Other times you may find that some hostels will provide chains and padlocks to anchor your luggage to. While it’s doubtful that you will run into these types of people, plenty of intermediate or skilled lockpickers roam this planet. With that said, don’t entirely rely on the vault or padlock the hostel offers.

Another piece you might find useful: What Is The Best VPN? (An Ultimate Guide and Comparison)

3. Pay Attention to the Hostel’s Rules

Before booking your stay in a hostel, ensure that you check their lodging listing or website for hostel rules during your visit. Doing so will prevent you from causing unnecessary drama, from finding yourself locked out of the hostel, and attracting pests—some hostels may not allow you to bring food.

4. Only Party Outside the Hostel

Unless your hostel explicitly states that you can host parties, don’t do so in the hostel. Set a rendezvous point for you and your party crew.

Also, if you plan to party, ensure that you’ve checked whether your hostel has a curfew. That way, they don’t lock you out if you’re out late.

5. Clean Up After Yourself

We’ve all possibly seen dudes who cook or chill and lounge areas. And afterward, they leave a mess behind, whether it’s trash or food-coated countertops.

Don’t act like this guy in a hostel.

If you’re cooking in a community kitchen, ensure that you clean your mess immediately when you don’t have any more use for the item you’re using. And once you’re done cooking, don’t forget to clean the countertops or any other mess you left behind.

Cleaning up your messes in a hostel makes it a lot easier for the next person who wants to cook in the community kitchen.

Moreover, don’t leave a giant mess behind when leaving your sleeping area or lounge spot. While it may not directly affect fellow hostel stayers, it produces more work for the staff.

6. Read the Hostel’s Reviews

Congratulations, you’ve found a hostel that you love.

However, how trustworthy is it?

Explore websites like Airbnb, Booking, HostelBookers, or TripAdvisors and the hostel’s social media pages for reviews. However, pay attention to the reviews to ensure they aren’t fake.

If you find yourself trapped with staying at a less than trustworthy hostel yet still want to experience a hostel. Consider using a luggage storage service to keep your valuables safe and keep toiletries and clothing with you at the hostel.

Related: Most popular social media messaging app by country

7. Invest in Headphones That Don’t Leak Sound

Once you’re out of energy from exploring outside, you may want to chill in your sleeping area to prepare yourself for your next adventure. While relaxing, you’ll likely want to listen to music or binge Netflix.

However, you will want to be considerate toward your neighbors. For example, I’m sure that they don’t want to listen to anime at max volume.

That’s why you should invest in some noise-canceling headphones or earbuds that also don’t leak a lot of sounds. While the features may sound premium, they’re not. Instead, you could likely find yourself a cheap pair of headphones.

As with what I say about everything else, ensure you read reviews and watch reviewers test them to see if they’re right for you. Because you can use this investment in other places than a hostel.

8. Shower Tips and Etiquette

Before you step into a hostel shower, get yourself a pair of shower shoes or flip-flops to protect your feet from athlete’s foot. Public showers are notorious for the spread of this ailment.

If you find your water cold, the plumbing may likely be broken. Bring it up with the hostel owners. If enough people complain, the owners will likely fix it.

Moreover, don’t bring bar soap. Instead, opt for liquid soap. That way, your belongings stay cleaner.

Anyway, onto hostel shower etiquette.

Don’t leave your belongings in the shower, and don’t blast a shower speaker.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hostels

Do you still want to learn more about hostels?

I have great news for you. There’s more to learn.

Explore frequently asked questions about hostels to better prepare yourself for your next booking.

Related: 15 Best Tips To Keep Your Money Safe While Abroad

Are Hostels Safe?

Hostels are safe under certain circumstances. For instance, they have security cameras, offer personal vaults, and are situated in a good neighborhood.

Conversely, if you find a hostel in a notorious part of the city, you may find yourself in danger. Always remember to research the surrounding neighborhood and the hostel’s reviews before booking.

What Is the Difference Between a Hostel and a Hotel?

Hostels and hotels are different because hotels offer individual rooms, whereas the way hostels set up their businesses reminds many of dormitories.

Moreover, hostels offer lower costs at the expense of perks that usually come with hotels. Also, hostels generally come with fewer hidden fees, unlike hotels.

Why Are Hostels Cheaper Than Other Accommodation Options?

Hostels are often cheaper than other accommodation options because they usually buy cheaper furnishings, rent out older buildings, are potentially in sketchy neighborhoods, have limited staff, and bunch all visitors together.

However, if you prefer to have a private area to sleep in, Airbnb or its alternatives will be your next best and most affordable option.

What Do You Think About Hostels?

Often, hostels have a terrible reputation because of movies or horror stories others may have told you. However, not all of them are bad.

If you want to save a lot of money during your trip, meet new people, and encounter new experiences, hostels are an excellent choice for you. Just ensure that you research and make the proper preparations in case you run into a bad scenario.

If you’re a solo traveler, you can maximize your experience with a hostel. But, conversely, if you’re traveling as a pair, you may want to consider a hotel or other affordable accommodation alternatives.

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