When I was first going to Europe, my parents told me never to stay in a hostel. “They’re dirty and dangerous” my mother warned, “you’ll get your soap stolen, among other valuables”. But as a world traveler on a budget, I soon learned that hostels were not nearly as bad as my parents made them seem.
Hostels are all different. There are big ones. There are small ones. There are strict ones. There are party ones. There are ones with free breakfast, linens, and soap. There are ones without. Honestly, there are so many different types to choose from that you can find one that suits your needs. The website Hostelworld offers the best selection of hostels and allows you to put in filtering parameters to find your perfect match.
There are seven types of hostels, but I want to focus on just a couple (you can read about the others in the linked article). The first is the cheap hostel. Yes, hostels are already cheap in nature, but we’re talking really cheap. These hostels usually don’t include anything free (they might actually cheat you into buying linen or towels), have lower level services and facilities, and might be outside the city center. If you’re really on a budget or don’t care about walking a little bit, use this type.
The homey and cozy hostel feels and looks like home. Usually this type of hostel has a lot of open space, like a garden or library or living room. I stay in this type of hostel most frequently because the staff is wonderful and it just feels like home instead of some foreign place.
Boutique hostels are more expensive and focus on a design element rather than a budget element. It’s basically a mix of comfort and luxury. Boutique hostels can also have different names, like luxury hostel or design hostel.
And finally, party hostels are just what they sound like–a big party. Usually younger hostel goers stay at this kind of hostel, but don’t be surprised if you see some people who are young at heart. Some of these hostels will have weekly social events, their own bar, and be a little bit messier than other hostels.
Aside from the types of hostels there are, there are also different types of hostel rooms. There are the most common dorm style rooms (with anywhere from three to twelve beds) and private rooms. The more beds in a room, usually the cheaper it is (so dorms are usually the cheapest). Within the dorm category, there are female only dorms, bunk bed dorms, dorms with an en-suite bathroom, dorms with bathrooms shared in the hall. The type of room usually corresponds to the type of hostel. If you want to read more about room types, check out this article.
Still too steep in price? Some hostels will allow you to work at the front desk or do laundry for a free bed (and that coupled with free breakfast is a win-win). Most hostels also have free linens and soap for visitors. Eating out can be really expensive, and hostel owners know that, which is why there is usually a kitchen on the premises for you to cook in.
I hope that I’ve debunked some rumors about the cleanliness and safety of hostels. I can’t sing enough praise for this accommodation type, and I encourage you to try it! You’ll meet new people, stay within your budget, be close to the city center, and have a great time on your trip. If you need more travel tips and tricks, check out this article. Happy traveling!
Also published on Medium.