Finding accommodation for your trip can be a daunting task & often it is easy to make the wrong choice. We live in a time where we are spoilt for choice when it comes to which type of accommodation we would like to stay at. Anything from couchsurfing to high end resorts are available for us to choose. I thought it would be fun to compare two of these options; hotels & hostels. Which is the better option?
The biggest advantage of booking at a hostel is the price. You could potentially be paying a fraction of the cost of a hotel stay & if you are traveling on a tight budget, this does make your money go further.
On the topic of money, hostels are usually owned by an individual & by supporting the hostel, you are putting food on the table for a family, you’re helping cover education costs for a child & overall your support is more valued. I’m not discrediting that hotels provide jobs for hundreds of people, but they are often part of a chain & owned by big corporations.
In my experience, you are far more likely to interact with other guests at a hostel than at other types of accommodation. You can find out a lot about the area/city you are in from the other guests as they may have just experienced a thing or two before you met them. You might find that they’re heading to the same place as you next & that could lower your future travel costs. You could also just simply make new friends; this is wonderful & I know it does happen because I am still in contact with people I met at a hostel in Egypt more than two years ago.
The biggest down side is sharing with strangers. You will be sharing rooms or bathrooms with multiple different individuals & that comes with a whole host of issues. You need to be cautious with your valuables. You should pack flip flops (or whatever terminology you use) to use in the shower since you are sharing that space with people you don’t know. Although some hostels offer private rooms, you will probably be sharing a room with other people & if you want to sleep when they’re awake & talking – problematic. I remember all of this becoming very evident to me at a hostel in Azerbaijan where there were 20-something other beds in the same room as mine.
A negative point I have to raise is the level of cleanliness tends to be much lower at hostels. I’m not saying that all hostels are dirty or that it’s only this type of accommodation prone to this, but you just need to be a bit more careful. It does help to read reviews online before making your booking as reviews will often mention if a hostel is not exactly clean.
The first advantage I can think of when it comes to hotels is that people in the area tend to know where hotels are. They’re more landmarks than hostels are. If you’re asking for directions to get back or you’re using a taxi, your trip is most likely going to be direct & undoubted.
Hotels have a 24 hour desk which is helpful if you check in or out at an odd time. This is not always streamlined with hostels as they’re often owned & run by an individual or a family.
Hotels offer services & facilities. Obviously it depends on the establishment, but there will most likely be a pool, gym, in-room dining services & sometimes more. Of course, the services always come at additional costs.
The first disadvantage I can think of when it comes to hotels is that they tend to be very strict with the times you check in & out & penalize you if you opt to do so outside of their time frames. Hostels are far more relaxed in this regard.
Another disadvantage I’ve noticed is disappointment. Because hotels can be pricey, people set their expectations slightly higher than they probably should & when these expectations aren’t met, they get disappointed. I feel that if you book at a hostel, your expectations are more realistic for getting what you paid for.
There are some of my advantages & disadvantages to both types of accommodation. Which one is better? Well, that depends on you & what you feel is of more value to you. If you are hell-bent on cutting costs then a hostel is better for you. If you value privacy & amenities more then a hotel is better suited for you. I will say that if you are traveling with children or older people, hotels are a better option… but again, that is entirely up to you.
Keep traveling, keep safe.