Welcome to the Coffee and Fly Guide to Hostels! This is a part of a travel guide series so you can plan your travels better. As a passionate traveler, I have my fair share of lessons on what makes a perfect holiday.
Well, there’s no such thing as a perfect holiday – and would you really want that for your trip? I would prefer a good balance of adventure to better appreciate the gift of travel. You want a memorable trip filled with priceless moments so there is something to remember and to tell your friends and families once you’re back home.
You might not think much of accommodation when it comes to travel because perhaps, you thought that you would probably spend most of your time in exploration during the day. And with plenty of variety in booking websites, how are you able to choose what’s best for you? What are the factors you must consider?
First, what is a hostel and why stay in one?
A hostel is a building with a shared bedroom, shared lounge and shared bathroom making it a cheap accommodation option when traveling. There is more opportunity to meet and be sociable due to the shared facilities. In one room shared with other people, you get a bunk-bed or a proper bed, sometimes, plus a locker, towel, slippers, blanket for you to use.
Here are the common misconceptions in staying in a hostel:
- You can only stay in a hostel when traveling solo.
Even if you are traveling with a group of friends, staying in a hostel can still be ideal for you budget-wise. You don’t have to necessarily travel solo to stay in a hostel. In cities like Tokyo where I recently traveled with my brother and sister, hostel-stay guarantees each of us a single bed in a mixed dormitory.
- Hostels are all dirty.
It can be messy depending on the travelers you are going to stay in the room with. That is beyond your control but when you get into that situation, you can request the reception to be transferred into another dorm. The dorms get cleaned every day and every new guest gets a new bedsheet, pillowcase, and a blanket so you don’t have to worry. Nevertheless, ensure to read the reviews online: clean is the keyword.
- You can’t get a private room in a hostel.
There are a few rooms in a building that you can rent privately, however, the price is not as competitive than staying in an inn or Airbnb.
- Hostels are basic accommodation.
Not all hostels look basic – some can be pretty sophisticated. Check out this link for some of the most instagrammable hostels around the world.
How do you make the most out of your hostel stay?
- Make sure that the hostel is centrally located and near to all the sites you would like to visit.
Check the location on Google map and study how far is the hostel from the airport, train station and other places you would like to visit. Maybe the hostel is too cheap because it is not easily accessible? Better watch out.
- Upon booking, reconfirm if the room you are getting is an all-female or a mixed dormitory.
A mixed dorm is cheaper than an all-female dorm. Don’t worry, gals, men are not that bad and they won’t bother you much especially in countries like Croatia, Slovenia, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. In men-dominated countries, however, such as Morocco and India, better play it safe and go for an all-female dorm.
- Check how many beds are there in one room? How many toilets and showers are available?
A good maximum number is 8 beds in one dorm for me. Anything above that would be too much and the risk of noise is higher. Two toilets with a bath shared by eight people are pretty convenient.
- Check the available facilities and whether it is chargeable or free.
This will help you better prepare for what to pack. What’s usually free: Wifi, towels, pantry use with coffee and water. What’s normally not included: earplugs, adapter, slippers, toiletries. It depends on the hostel so it’s recommended to research in advance.
- Inform the hostels in advance of the time of your arrival.
Not all hostels got staff at the reception for 24 hours. In Europe, reception gets closed from 10 pm – 6 am so better to double-check the instructions on how to check-in or check-out outside the opening hours.
- Is there a keep-quiet policy at a specific time so everyone can get a good sleep?
I hope so, otherwise, you need to get yourself a good pair of ear plugs.
- Talk to the staff.
They got the most valuable insight into where everything is in the city and how to reach it. From free walking tours to the most recommended local restaurants, my experience so far is that they give you the most honest feedback and recommendations.
- Try as much as possible to travel light.
There is limited space for your luggage and things so I recommend bringing a maximum of 1 piece of luggage + 1 small bag.
Here is a list of my favorite hostels:
- Split Guesthouse & Hostel – From the staff to the guests, a fun community is built. I felt a connection the moment I check-in and easily met friends.
- Villa Veselova, Ljubljana – I still remember how the sun shone through the big windows in my room leaving me a good feeling of a home away from home. Plus, they got a terrace if you want to have some quiet time. It is also in the centre of the town and easily accessible to all the good places the town has to offer.
- Marken Gjestehus Hostel, Bergen – They don’t offer a mixed dorm which worked perfectly to me. That means I got to chat with wonderful ladies traveling around Norway.
Golden Rules in Staying in a Hostel
It’s simple: Be Considerate At All Times.
- If you think you snore loudly at night, consider getting a private room or better yet stay in a hotel and let other people have a peaceful sleep.
- As much as possible, don’t make any noise from 10 pm – 6 am. If you need to pack your luggage, do it when people are awake.
- Keep your belongings in one area near your bed. Don’t throw your things around like you own the room.
- Don’t be snobbish and try to say a simple “hi” to your roommates.
- Your belongings are your responsibility. Put your valuables in a locker or a bag with a lock. Hostels are not responsible for watching over your things for you.
Staying in a hostel is easy-peasy. You just have to know what to expect and be better prepared to avoid terrible surprises. It’s really not that bad and if done well, it can be your most rewarding and memorable experience.
Of course, there are rules in hostels. You are sharing spaces with other people so you need a little more than the usual consideration is appreciated.
Hope the above is helpful for your next travel. If you are considering traveling in the near future, consider searching for your accommodation through the booking.com widget below. It will help me earn some affiliate points. Thank you very much and Happy Travels!