A hostel can provide travelers with inexpensive yet entertaining and friendly lodging. They can be as cheap as—if not cheaper than— $10 per night, and provide access to an array of local activity. If you are traveling on a shoestring budget or want to expand your travel network, chances are you will find yourself seeking shared accomodation at one of the many available establishments. Suffice it to say, it is good to be well versed in both the good and bad of any situation. As we weigh both the pros and cons, you can decide independently if the hostel will be your way maker… or a deal breaker.
Cheap Accomodation - As mentioned above, hostels can be very easy on the pocket. Spending little on accomodation can free up the budget in other areas, such as money spent on food and miscellaneous activities. What’s more, cheap accomodation affords only the bare minimum, which encourages travelers to spend more time out and about experiencing their surroundings, rather than holed up inside doing nothing.
Leisure Activities - Most hostels are great at making information accessible, and can help make one’s expeditions easier. Many hostels provide entertainment for their guests. In Barcelona, for example, I stayed in a hostel that arranged for its lodgers to have access to amazing bars, clubs and lounges. Some establishments take it a step further by having all these amenities in-house (a certain Cuzcan hostel comes to mind).
Location - Hostels are everywhere! From city centres to the remotest of areas, most likely, there’s a hostel or two around. Though not every hostel was created equal, they all share one common thread: area convenience.
Cultural Opportunities - This is perhaps the best thing a hostel can offer: the chance to meet people different than one’s self. This is why we travel… to experience culture! Hostels are cultural melting pots. I can recall a hostel experience where my counterparts consisted of persons from Japan, Slovenia, Finland, Russia, Australia, Alaska, Buenos Aires and more. Can’t say fairer than that!
Lack of Privacy - Most hostels are designed dormatory/overnight-camp style. This means there is a high probability of having to sleep in a bunk-bed in a 12-person room. Which means there is little-to-no privacy. While some hostels do offer smaller-sized and even, on occasion, private rooms, they do come at a cost, and operate on a first-come-first-serve policy.
Lack of Security - While some hostels provide lockers (with padlocks at a price), others have no form of security, and make it clear that they are in no way accountable for any items that are lost or stolen. This, of course, can make staying in a room with countless others a nerveracking and paranoia-filled experience, which can ultimately have an affect on the travel experience overall.
Noise/ Lack of Consideration - Not everyone has the same set of standards (or morality) when it comes to respect. Hostels can, thus, be dirty and extremely rowdy, especially at night, when travelers are in and out, preparing for an outing or coming in drunk from a party— rarely will someone take into account the one or two people asleep in the room. And if extremely unlucky (as I was once before), one can get stuck rooming with the couple who has chugged away their pride and resorted to engaging in lewd, sexual acts while others are in the room.
Curfews - Be warned. 24 hour front desks are uncommon. Ergo, a lot of hostels have a lockout time. This can mean the difference between sleeping in a bed or a park bench.
Before booking a hostel, be sure to do a little research. Find out the rules and regulations of the establishment. Get a cleanliness rating. If it’s important to have a supportive staff, be sure to look into that. Reputable hostels usually have all of this information readily available. If certain areas of importance are inaccessible, it might be smart to look for different accomodation. Happy Travels… and get that horror movie out of your head!! — VJ