Photo Credit – Davis Staedtler
If you asked me years ago would I be interested in paying money to sleep in a room with strangers in bunk-beds, I would have said “Hell No”. Maybe it’s the American in me that immediately is suspicious of strangers especially people in a different country. Maybe it’s the constant reminder from people of the horror movie “Hostel”. Either way, my feelings about Hostels has changed significantly to the point where I prefer to stay in a Hostel. For those of you who have never stayed in a Hostel, here are some Pros and Cons (Hostel Recommendations will be at the Bottom).
- Huge Cost Savings – You know that feeling when you go to a store and you get a 50% off discount? You feel like you just stole it from the store. I get that feeling every time I pay for a Hostel. The cheapest Hostel I booked was 18 EURO a night and most expensive was about 45 EURO a night. The potential cost savings is a huge bonus as to now you can use that money for everything else like food, souvenirs, transit or purely money that you can go back home with.
- Typically in Great Locations – If you are city hopping in Europe, you know that location is very important because time is limited. You want to do your best to stay within a city and not on the outskirts as it adds to time to get to where you want to be and money to pay for transit. There are a lot of quality Hostels that are in the center of these cities, close to tourist attractions and next to bus or train lines. I’ve stayed at a Hostel in Berlin that was less than 10 minutes walking to Alexanderplatz, a Hostel in Munich that is across the street from the main train station and a Hostel in Paris that was 15 minutes walking distance to the Eiffel Tower.
- Easy To Meet Like-Minded People From All Over the World – What becomes obvious is that Hostels are for travelers. You may get a new roommate every night you stay in a room. People are in and out. Being that people are travelers, they are like minded and you will always have that commonality with them which makes it easy to spark conversations. “Where are you from?” and then next thing you know, you’re spending the day with your roommate and having the best time of your life. In most of my Hostel stays, I’ve connected with at least one person and still talk to them.
- Some Have a Bar or Restaurant – Want a quick bite to eat or a drink? A lot of Hostels have at least a bar attached where you can grab a drink and talk with people who are not in your room but traveling as well. It’s a great socializing spot.
- They are Safe and Safety Minded – Whether you are traveling alone or with a group, we all want to feel as safe as possible. Hostels are very much aware and care about it. A lot of hostels have electronic key cards so you can’t even get through the main room areas unless you have one and then of course a key card to get into your room. God forbid you have a problem with a roommate, they have no problem switching your room or even kicking that person out from that Hostel.
- Relaxed Environment – Because your Hostel room has just a bed and no sort of entertainment, they typically have a lounge area open to everyone. It’s a great meeting spot as well for people who are not in your room.
- Gender Specific and Private Rooms are Possible – Hostels are typically co-ed but a lot of Hostels do offer Women only rooms and Private rooms for small parties traveling together. The private rooms are pricier but it is an option.
- Security Lockers are Normally Provided – Probably the 1st or 2nd thought that runs through your mind with staying in a room with strangers is “I don’t want anyone to steal my stuff”. Every one that travels has that same mindset but for safe keeping you can always put your belongings in a locker. Depending on the Hostel, some have small lock boxes for your passport and money or they could be large lockers where you can fit a whole suit case. You may need to bring your own lock and some are electronic that will open with your key card. You can find out before your booking.
- Family Oriented Hostels are Available – There are Hostels where they are family friendly so you can bring young kids and have a great time. They typically advise this fact so you can spot them in their advertisements.
- Washer and Dryer is an Option – If you need to wash your clothes, the bigger Hostels may have an washer and dryer on location for you to use.
- No Privacy – This is a given. I’ve stayed in a room filled with 13 other guys (which made for a musky morning), the result is the same. You won’t have true privacy 100% of the time. I will say that most travelers are gone in the morning and all morning, so if you do want privacy it will happen then. It is a sacrifice for sure. Here is a tip: If you’re going to multiple cities, in the middle of your trip, stay in an AirBNB. This will split up the constant feel of not having your own space.
- Shared Bathroom – Yes, you all use the same bathroom. Some hostels do have split bathrooms where there is a toilet in one part and a shower in another part which definitely helps.
Photo Credit – Christopher Lancaster
- Bunk-Beds – I’m well over 200 pounds and almost 6 feet tall and I absolutely hate getting the top bunk. It’s like seeing an adult on a child’s amusement ride, like it’s not supposed to go together. I always feel like “This is the moment I break this damn bed” when I climb up it. Maybe for some of you it will bring back the days of your childhood. I will admit I have pure joy when I do get the bottom bunk.
- Some Hostels Can Be Too Youth Focused – As you get older, you just want to go to bed and you’re not about drinking all night or talking till 2 am. Hostels attract the 18 to 35 year old demographic and some really aim for the youngest people. It’s been referred to as “Youth Hostels” or “Party Hostels”. There will be more drinking involved and in general there will be more activity happening in the Hostel. You can typically spot them before you stay there. They sometimes set age limits for Hostels as well so keep an eye out for that as well.
- You Can’t Pick Your Roommates – I personally haven’t had any real issues with roommates but it’s just the fact that it’s random people from different backgrounds. Some people are less courtious than others. Some are less cleanly. You can’t pick your roommates.
Hostel Recommendations – These are Hostels that I’ve personally stayed at and recommend:
Wombats City Hostel in London – 15-20 minutes walking distance to get to the London Bridge
Wombats City Hostel in Munich – Across the street from the Main Train Station and a few blocks away from the Old City / City Center
St Christopher’s Hostel in Berlin – Train line is right in front of the Hostel and it’s 10 minutes walking to get to Alexanderplatz
3 Ducks Eiffel Tower Hostel in Paris – Train line is a block away and it’s 15 minutes walking to get to the Eiffel Tower