What is a Hostel?

Beary_Best!_Hostel, Singapore

When it comes to backpacking, the accommodation of choice is usually hostels.  But what is a hostel?  A hostel is a cheap alternative to a hotel that is designed for budget travelers.  Their purpose is low costs so you can get to know a country longer and to create an environment where you can meet other like-minded travelers. They offer dormitory style rooms with community bathrooms which are shared with all the rooms on the hall, although some have options for private bathrooms located in the room.  Prices can vary depending on where you are, but usually rooms cost $8-40 per night with $15 to 30 being more standard.  Other key characteristics that some hostels may have are:

  • Fully stocked kitchens
  • Common areas, movie libraries, travel and book libraries, bars, game rooms, and other areas to encourage interaction with other travelers.
  • Make your own bed – sheets and a pillow case for your room are given to you when you get there and there aren’t maids that make the bed for you.  However, some do not provide sheets for free, charging sometimes $5 a night. Towels are usually not provided.
  • Lockers in the room to secure your belongings.
  • Rooms that accomodate 2-20 or more people.  I typically stick to rooms with less than 8 or 10 people, as it can get pretty noisy and cramped with more. Female only dorms are available for those uncomfortable with a mixed dorm. Private rooms are also available for couples or families wanting a more intimate and private setting.  The private rooms are typically hotel quality and have their own bathroom.
  • Luggage rooms to store your luggage if you happen to check in early or if you have a late flight but have already checked out so you can go exploring and don’t have to lug your backpack around.
  • Internet cafes usually for a small fee or wifi.
  • Organized tours and nightlife. Hostels typically team up with local tour guides to give its residents cheap options for day trips, walking tours, and at night, organize pub crawls, movie nights and more to get the travelers to interact and have a great experience.
  • Free continental breakfast
  • Laundry Facilities, for a fee similar to that of other laundromats.
Hostel
m’sieur rico / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

I am a huge fan of hostels, the main reasons being I love the people I meet there, especially when traveling solo.  You can get great tips on where to go from other travelers and exchange stories.  The hostel workers, usually travelers themselves, can give you pointers on places to visit that you may not have found otherwise.

If I have won you over to the way of hostels, see more about the hostel life and find out how to book one here.

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