There are two types of travellers, those who stay in hotels and those who stay in hostels. Once people make their choice, they tend to stick with it. Many first-time travellers are faced with the difficult choice of where to stay while on the road, but which kind of place is best?
Are hostels really that safe? Aren’t hotels a little too expensive? Each has its own advantages over the other, so let’s see what they are!
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Price – Hostels
Accommodation is one of the biggest expenses when it comes to travel, so having a cheap place for the night is incredibly important for long-term backpackers! Without a shadow of a doubt, hostels are by far the cheapest option, that’s why they’re such a popular option in the first place!
Hostels have a huge price difference compared to even the cheapest hotels. In most countries, hostels rarely go over £15 and are usually much less! You can even find some for as little as £2 a night in some places!
Quality – Hotels
This is actually a lot closer than you think! Most people have horrific images of what hostels are like; prison-style bunks in filthy dorms filled with perverts, but it couldn’t be further from the case…mostly. You’d be stunned how modern and well equipped some hostels are these days! Many are actually nicer than the cheapest hotels!
That being said there is a limit to the luxury, and you get what you pay for. What’s the most you can expect from a £10 hostel? They just can’t compete with the higher rate hotels. You tend not to see many celebrities passing through hostels, do you?
Availability – Hotels
If you dropped a pin on a map anywhere in the world, what are you more likely to find, a hotel or a hostel? Though there might be plenty of hostels in the most popular tourist spots, you’re much more likely to find more hotels wherever you are. That’s particularly true in the more obscure locations.
Travelling can be quite an expensive hobby! But don’t worry, there are plenty of ways that you can save money while you travel!
If you’re simply asking for the range of different room options available, then hostels and hotels are pretty much even!
Today’s modern hostels come with a range of different rooms to suit your needs. Mostly they vary in the number of beds in a room, with the prices getting cheaper as the bed numbers increase. Some even have private rooms, giving you a bit of separation while still having the benefit of hostel life.
Also, an important feature in most modern hostels is female-only rooms for any girl who would rightfully feel concerned with having to share a room with strange men.
Hotels also have their own variety of rooms. From simplistic single bed, no windowed rooms to luxury suites. So enough selection all around!
Privacy – Hotels
Who would have thought you have such little privacy while sharing a room with up to 15 other strangers, shocker.
Privacy becomes a luxury that you’ll have to sacrifice in hostels. Not only will you have to share a room, but also bathrooms and common areas. You might have a curtain or be lucky enough to stay in a capsule hostel, yet it’s not real privacy. You always have to consider that other people are there, and deal with their annoying habits. There’s ALWAYS a snorer.
No matter the quality of the hotel, you always have complete and total privacy, your own kingdom away from the rest of the world. For many, this is the only factor you’d need to convince them.
Safety – Hotels
Going on from the last point, added privacy also means a lot more safety! 99% of the time, hostels are incredibly safe and are full of very respectable and considerate guests, but there are always a handful of assholes that has to ruin it for everyone.
As you’re sharing a room with complete strangers, there’s potential for mischief. After all, there are plenty of creeps out there who have made female-only dorms a necessity. Though incidents are rare, they definitely can happen.
The most common problem is thievery. Most decent hostels have lockers (either paid or free) that allow you to hide your valuables, though many don’t. Even when they do, they might be too small to fit everything or just too easy to break open.
With hotels, none of this is a concern. Your private room is Fort Knox in comparison to an open bunk bed.
Hostels are the lifeblood of backpackers around the world, but plenty of people don’t want to stay in them. So what are the pros and cons?
It also may surprise you to learn that most hostels are just as well equipped as your average hotel, and often even more so! Even the most basic hostels aim to provide the necessities to live life on the road! From facilities to do your own laundry and fully stocked kitchens to prepare your own meals, to having cafés or bars attached to the hostel itself.
Definitely, the most modern and most luxurious option is capsule hostels, where you crawl into your 4 walled bunk and close the curtain to have total privacy. Some hostel bunks might come with their own TVs and nightlights, and have beds comfier than you have at home! You’ll find sleek modern common areas with plasma screen TVs, vending machines, video games, a karaoke machine and all sorts thrown in between, you’d be amazed!
Yes, many hotels are just as well equipped, with some having their own swimming pools, spas and restaurants…but many are pretty barren too. To pretend that hotels, in general, are better equipped than hostels just isn’t true these days.
Sociability – Hostels
When’s the last time you had a conversation with someone who stayed in the same hotel as you? Unless you want to talk to businessmen, families or people cheating on their other half, then you haven’t got much choice! Admittedly peace and quiet might be exactly what you’re looking for, but if you’re a social butterfly then hostels are where you need to be!
Hostels are filled with fellow travellers that are exploring the world for the same reasons you are! It’s a perfect place to interact with like-minded people, hang out and share stories from the road. You’ll make friends that you’ll join on day trips and possibly travel further with. You might even find luuuuv.
Pretty much every hostel holds regular social events on a weekly and sometimes daily basis! They range everywhere from the simplest quiz or movie nights to taking the guests out on the town to a few bars or even full-day trips. Not to mention plenty of opportunities to get completely wasted with your fellow guests over card games, beer pong and everything else in-between! These experiences can’t be found outside of hostels!
Uniqueness – Even
There are plenty of basic bitch hotels and hostels out there to fill the average needs of any traveller. But what if you want a unique experience, something completely out of the ordinary? Like being on the banks of the River Gamgees or in the middle of a nature reserve.
There are plenty of both types of accommodation which are peculiar and unique! You can have hotels standing in the middle of the ocean or hostels in the heart of a rainforest, there are plenty of unique options out there! They might be much harder to find but both they’ll give you some pretty incredible experiences.
Free Breakfasts – Even
It really is important to some people, do they offer a free breakfast? Well, both hotels and hostels are pretty much the same in the sense that some do and some don’t. Of course, many hotels will provide an incredible buffet-style spread that dwarfs the simple offering of tea and toast from hostels, but they’re offered at the same frequency.
Many people are worried if street food is safe to eat or not? What should you look out for and why is it much safer than you think?
For long term backpackers, it’s all about saving money. One of the best ways to do that is to prepare your own meals, and most hostels provide the means to do just that! Many hostels come with fully equipped kitchens, while I haven’t ever seen that in any hotel. Though some hotels will have their own restaurants, you can exactly cook for yourself!
A Welsh university drop-out on a mission to travel the world for as little money as possible. My adventures have taken me through over 30 countries across Europe, Asia and Oceania, and the list keeps on growing! From classic backpacking to working and volunteering, I have found all sorts of ways to maintain a life on the road.