That is the question!
When I mention the idea of staying in a “Hostel”, what comes to mind? Believe it or not, plenty of people out there in the world think it’s a cheap, scummy and dangerous place to stay; well, let me see… Cheap? Yes, most certainly! Perfect for those that want to budget travel! Scummy? Not if you research into where you will be staying and ensure that there are well-written, unbiased reviews. Dangerous? I don’t believe that there are any dangerous places out there, just travellers that are not using their head, intuition and common-sense. Please don’t base the idea of staying or not staying at a Hostel on the movie: “Hostel”. A movie is a movie.
A stay at a hostel can be as good or as bad as you want it to be, it all boils down to preparation and travel research, but sometimes, even for the well-educated and avid traveller, you will sometimes bump into the inevitable. With proper research and travel skills, you can highly reduce that chances of staying at a crummy hostel and making the best of your trip!
I’ll list off some Pros and Cons for you to weigh out:
- Hostels are much cheaper than almost any other kind of accommodation out there. I stayed 8 nights in Cracow, Poland for 140$ USD!
- Hostels are generally located in the heart of the best districts, usually in better locations than most Hotels!
- Hostels often offer free Wi-Fi and sometimes even a free Breakfast!
- Hostels often offer private rooms for just a few dollars more, for those that simply cannot sacrifice a bit of privacy.
- Hostels will provide you with information and ideas of what to do and see in the area that you’re visiting; not only the major sights, but all the local hotspots as well!
- Hostels often have a common-room, where you can socialize and meet other travellers just like yourself!
- Hostels may give you a discount if you own a “Hostelling International Membership” card. (Imagine that! Cheaper than the cheap price you’re already paying!)
Of course, there are so many more “Pros” that I could list, but that should be good enough for now. Time for some “Cons”!
- You may have to sacrifice some privacy. (Are you really going to spend all of your time in your room anyways?)
- The bathrooms are usually shared. (You share the bathroom in your house and you share the bathroom with several other employees at your workplace, what’s the difference?)
- It might be difficult to get some sleep if people are snoring. (The “Ear Plug” is a wonderful invention!)
- You run the small chance of running into a hostel that is not properly maintained in several manners. (Don’t you run that risk staying at a Hotel you’ve never been to? Besides, that’s where doing your research comes in; read unbiased reviews!)
- You run the risk of your goods potentially getting stolen if you are not provided with adequate storage facilities with appropriate security features for your gear to be stored while you’re out exploring. (Again, read the reviews. Travelling is an art and you will learn through experience).
If you have the money, you want the posh lifestyle and don’t have a budget to worry about, then by all means, take the luxury hotel situated in the heart of the city, but if you’re on a budget like me, which is probably most people reading this blog, then you’re going to want to find options that won’t have your wallet screaming in agony.
Here’s what I do:
- Enter the URL: www.hostelworld.com
- Enter the City and Country you will be travelling to and of course, the respective dates with the amount of people that will be staying.
- Click “Search”
- Several results will show up, displaying a list of several different Hostels that you can choose from; the best thing to do at this point is to sort all your results appropriately. Click on the drop-down box right next to “Sort by:” and select “Overall Rating”.
- Now, all your results should be sorted by the best rated Hostel to the least rated Hostel. Check them out one at a time to ensure that the room that you want is available for the dates that you specified, the Hostel is located in the part of the city you want to be staying in, the price is affordable and the ratings are good. Always keep a keen eye as to what kind of Hostel you may be staying at, as some are themed and even oriented towards “Partying”, which may not be the type of Hostel you want to stay at if you’re trying to get a good night’s rest!
I’ve always used www.hostelworld.com for all my hostel needs. The thing I like about the site is that they provide accurate, unbiased reviews about the Hostel that you could be potentially staying at. Also, when you do decide to reserve your room/bed, you only have to place down 10% over the internet and then pay the remaining balance once you arrive at the Hostel. You also have an option, for just a few dollars more, you can protect yourself from losing your money if a cancellation on your booking is required. You will get credited the balance on the website to be used towards another Hostel in the future.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I’ve stayed at Hostels all over the globe and I’ll tell you from first-hand experience that again, with some experience and research, you will find yourself enjoying your stay at Hostels, whether you’re staying in a private room or a shared dorm. I personally, won’t choose to stay in a Hotel again unless I absolutely have to. The most important thing is that you have to keep an open-mind and with an open-mind, you’ll be a happier person in the end.
Last weekend, Amy and I stayed at a Hostel in the heart of Toronto, the “Entertainment” District to be exact. The name of the Hostel was called: “The Clarence Park” Hostel. We booked a private room that had it’s own bathroom and for 40$/per person/per night, you can’t beat it! We basically stayed 3 nights in the heart of Downtown Toronto for 240$ and the room was PRIVATE! No shared Bathroom either! If we chose to stay at any hotel in Downtown Toronto, 3 nights would have easily costed us 450-600$!
Here’s a snap of the place we stayed at:
The Clarence Park Hostel – Private Room
As you can see, the room itself is basic, but very cozy, clean and acceptable! The bed is King-sized, there’s a television (which you can’t see in this photo) mounted onto the wall with cable facing the bed. There’s a desk, comfortable chair, balcony and a private bathroom. In the bathroom, you have the essentials: Toilet, sink and shower. There’s no bathtub, but again, think of the money you’re saving, you’re getting the absolute essentials at rock-bottom price in the heart of Downtown Toronto! A very expensive city to live in. The room itself was very quiet with the balcony door closed; we had no problem obtaining a full night’s rest, every single night!
At the end of the day, you should consider trying out a Hostel, what do you have to lose? Nothing, because you’re actually saving, big time!
Keep an open mind, explore, have fun and always try something different and new!