A hostel is similar to a hotel. The difference is you share your room and it is generally less expensive. In hostels, people can room with 4, 6, or 8 other people. Sometimes more. Beds are usually bunk beds. Hostels are similar to the layout of college dorms within the United States. There may also be private rooms offered. But private rooms are limited in hostels. These rooms usually cost more than shared rooms.
Hostels are usually cheaper than a hotel. While this is not always the case, I’ve found that private rooms within a hostel are usually are significantly less expensive than a hotel room.
I’ve found hostels to usually be located in tourist locations.
Many hostels have common spaces that are designed for their guests to mix and mingle. Whenever I stay in a hostel, I meet people from all over the world in the common areas. I usually wind up traveling with the people I’ve met in these spaces.
Breakfast is usually included in the hostel price. But don’t get too excited; it’s nothing extravagant. The breakfasts that I’ve had in hostels included croissants, biscuits, toast, cereal, and meats and cheeses. Coffee and tea may be served as well.
Hostels usually lock their front door after a certain time. Guests (those with keys) are obviously allowed.
Most of the hostels I’ve stayed in, in the past have either a built-in cafe or bar. They usually have great drink specials. Cafes and bars are also a great way to meet people while traveling overseas.
If you have multiple people traveling with you, hostels can be a great and inexpensive way to book a room since there are multiple beds per room.
Unless you book a private room or you are traveling with a group, you are likely to room with a stranger(s). Although this can be a great way to meet people, it can be intimidating. Also, in a hostel, the rooms are usually small. You have a bed and locker and that’s about it.
If you’re a light sleeper this can be a negative. Staying in a hostel means that your roommates can enter your room at any point. When they come in, they might not be the quietest, and they may turn on the lights which may break your REM cycle. If your roommate is a snores, beware.
Not all hostels have communal bathrooms that you have to share with the whole floor. Some bathrooms may be in your suite. However, sharing a bathroom with dozens of people can mean long lines and dirty facilities. If cleanliness is an issue for you, check the reviews before booking.
This point can be a pro or con, depending on what you’re looking for. Each hostel has its own culture and atmosphere. And, not all hostels are party places. But if it is, and if you’re not a partier or don’t feel like partying, this can be a turnoff. Music can go for all hours of the night and you may have a couple of drunk roommates stumbling in at the crack of dawn.
Before staying at a hostel, be sure to read the reviews. The reviews will let you know what kind of experience you’re getting yourself into.
Have you ever stayed in a hostel? If so, what was your experience?