A Beginners Guide To: Hostels

I have heard some lovely things from a number of you guys recently telling me you are going to go on your first solo trip after reading this blog, and I just want to say that I genuinely felt so happy and proud when I got your messages so thank you for the lovely messages you have sent me.

 

In light of the exciting trips a number of you are taking I thought it could be useful for me to create an introduction to hostelling. In this post, I hope to cover all the information you will need for your first hostel trip. Hope you enjoy it!

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Advantages of staying in a hostel 

  • Cheap- Hostels are often cheaper than a hostel if they’re not you are paying too much!
  • Friendly- people staying at hostels tend to be much friendlier than those in hotels and be hanging out in the common areas together

Disadvantage

  • Shared Facilities- Hostels tend to have shared toilets and bathrooms, however, you can sometimes get en-suites (see private rooms)
  • Don’t get waited on- In most hostels you have to make you own beds and clean up after yourself. You are not waited on in the same way as you are in a hotel.

If you are looking for a relaxing holiday, laying by the pool, breakfast in bed type trip then I would recommend finding a hotel for your stay, however, if you’re on a solo trip looking to make new friends and experience the culture of a city, and other culture, then hostelling is great!

Room Options 

There are a number of room options to choose from when staying in a hostel, which can cover different budgets and personal preference, it’s worth noting that not all hostels will have all of these facilities.

Dorm Rooms- These are shared rooms that vary in size from about 4-20 people in a room, each person had a bunk bed and a draw/cupboard to keep their personal belongings in. These are the cheapest options in a hostel, with larger dorms being cheaper, for the most part, the larger the dorm the less sleep you will get, and in my experience hostels with big dorm rooms are often seen as ‘party hostels’.  Most hostels give you an option between single sex or mixed dorms. Obviously, with sharing a room you do run the (very high) risk of annoying bunk mates who take over the room and never sleep.

Private Rooms- These rooms have the bonus of not having to share the space with anyone or at least no one you don’t know. You can book a private room on your own or as a couple or with a group of friends, with the reassurance that it will just be you guys in the room. These rooms will often still have shared bathrooms, which are normally in the corridor, however, you can find en-suite private rooms which are much more like a budget hotel than a hostel, with the added bonus of staying in a hostel.

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Amenities 

These are some amenities that I always look out for and a brief explanation of why. As you get used to travelling you may decide you don’t care about some of these- and that you have some stuff that you want extra, but these are a good place to start.

Wifi- I always like to have a hostel with wifi, it is normally really easy to find places with free wifi. I find its great for staying in touch with my family (they constantly worry) and for updating here.

A Kitchen- I have stayed in hostels without a kitchen, but to be honest it just felt like a hotel to me! One of the great advantages of having a kitchen within your hostel is that it’s a great place to sit and have a chat with some other people staying in your hostel that you might not naturally run into otherwise. It is also a great way to keep the cost of your trip down, no expensive meals out! Overall I much prefer having a kitchen, even if you don’t use it, I feel like hostels without always feel much more hotel like and a lot less friendly.

Lockers- If you are staying in a shared dorm you may want to make sure you have a locker. Everywhere I have stayed provides a lockable drawer for you to use under your bed (you need your own padlock) but some hostels also provide separate lockers in different rooms. I have previously only used these on the day I check out, but you want to make sure there is somewhere you can lock your valuables away during your stay.

Hostel Bar- Just like the kitchen the bar is a great place to meet new people. When I’m travelling alone I tend not to drink outside of the hostel; to be honest I’m not a big drinker at home. Even if you don’t want to drink hostel bars are a great place to just sit back and relax- you could just go and enjoy the atmosphere!

Laundry service- If you are doing a long trip, or if you’re only taking hand luggage, you might want to check out if your hostel has a laundry service. Let me be blunt by ‘service’ I mean a washing machine, it’s unlikely someone will do it for you! But having the facilities, especially when you have already worn all your clothes 3 times (and turned your knickers inside out too many times to count) can be a godsend!

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Hostel Etiquette 

Maybe it’s because I’m British, maybe that is a horrible stereotype, but I am always worried about annoying other people, so I have created a list of things to do so your not that nightmare roommate.

  • Don’t have sex in a shared dorm- Why would you want to? Even if exhibitionism is your thing, or if you’re really drunk, your roommates don’t want to see, hear, feel (if the bottom bunk moves, so does the top!) your sex. It’s weird please don’t….ever!
  • If you’re coming in late at night, be quiet. Try to get into bed as quickly and quietly as possible so as not to wake your sleeping roommates. Also, don’t turn on the main light, use a phone or flashlight to find your way into bed.
  • If you wake up early- be quiet. Basically, read above! I have a roommate who woke up at 6AM, every morning!!! I had basically just fallen asleep when she decided to noisily start getting ready for the day.
  • Keep the kitchen clean- If you are going to use the kitchen, make sure you clean up after yourself because there isn’t anyone else to do it. That includes the things you use- plates, pans, cutlery etc, and the service you use. If you can try and clean up before you start eating so other people can use the pans.
  • Don’t use plastic bags- Ok I have to admit I have done this before (sorry!) Plastic bags are bloody noisy and if you’re packing your bag, getting you clothes out, munching on some crisps it’s really noisy!!
  • Pack early- I know you hate for your trip to end, but its best to try and pack your bags the night before, so you don’t have to worry about bumping and banging around the room early in the morning.

I hope this blog post was useful, if you have any questions let me know in the comments and I will see what I can answer, and if you are going travelling, alone or as part of a group; let me know where you are going!!

 

Hope you have a great trip- see you next time!

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