10 Things You Might not Know About Hostels

What to Know About Staying in a Hostel

Hostels tend to have a bad reputation. Most people do not understand how these types of accommodations work and their only impressions of hostels are from horror films. They have a lot of misconceptions about staying in a hostel, which is based on assumptions and myths, rather than reality.

Fortunately for you, I am an expert on hostels. I have been traveling for most of my 20s and I have probably stayed in at least 100 of them, so I know a thing or two about what they are like.

Here are some things that the average person might not know about hostels.

Some of Them are Prisons, Literally

From Ottawa to Slovenia to Germany to New Zealand, there are many hostels made from old prisons. It is totally weird, but it is true.

I guess a prison building has plenty of rooms as well as communal spaces, making it ideal to convert into a hostel.

You might be thinking, “What? That sounds horrible — who would want to sleep in a prison?” However, many of these stylish hostels have been given a makeover and are much more comfortable and inviting than they were in their prison days. (Although some keep the creepy ambiance for guests who like that sort of thing). Plus, you can leave whenever you like.

They Can Be Luxurious

Many people associate the term hostel with other words such as cheap, basic, budget and uncomfortable. However, this is not necessarily the case.

Yes, there are some super cheap hostels that are bare, but there are also hostels that are as elegant and stylish as any boutique hotel.

A great source for the scoop on Luxury Hostels is Kash from BudgetTraveller.org. He has reviewed a ton of luxury hostels on his website so that you can travel in style.

Offer Activities

Some hostels will offer not just a place to lay your tired head, but also some fun things to do.

For example, when we stayed at Empedrado Hostel in Mendoza, Argentina they had a different activity almost every night including empanada cooking classes, wine tasting workshops and more.

It was a great opportunity to meet other hostel guests and make friends.

Private Rooms

If you think you need to sleep in a bunk bed in a room full of strangers to stay at a hostel, you have been misinformed. The truth is most hostels have private rooms available as well as dorm rooms.

So, if you are traveling as a couple (or you have fallen in love at first sight at the hotel bar) you can enjoy some privacy.

Female Only Rooms are Sometimes an Option

Did you know some hostels offer all female dorm rooms? Now, for myself I do not really think that gender segregated dorms are necessary. However, some female travelers are uncomfortable sleeping in a dorm room with strange men and feel much happier in a room with only women. It is up to you whether you think it is worth the extra money.

You Are Responsible for Cleaning up After Yourself

A hostel is not a hotel — there is no room service and no one will wash your dishes for you when you are done cooking in the kitchen.

Do not be that person who leaves everything a mess for the next person who wants to make dinner.

The Rules Are Different Everywhere You Go

Make sure that you read the rules — they are different in every hostel. Some hostels are strict — they have a curfew of when you must return in the evening and rules about when you can use the kitchen.

Other ones are pretty laid back. It just depends on where you are and how uptight the management is.

Some hostels will have set room rates that do not budge, while others will give you a discount if you know how to ask.

Not the Greatest Kitchens

My boyfriend Lee carries around a knife when traveling — not really for safety reasons, but more because many budget hostels have only ridiculously blunt kitchen knives that can barely slice through a tomato.

Some of the more luxurious hostels we have stayed in have well equipped kitchens, but if you like to cook be prepared that some cheaper hostels will have very basic kitchen supplies.

Check the kitchen before you head to the supermarket, so you can plan your meals based on what equipment is there.

Free Food Shelves

Nearly every hostel I have been to has some form of free food box, shelf or cupboard. It is there for travelers to leave their leftover condiments and packages of food they do not want to carry with them in their backpack.

For example, if you buy a bag of rice during your stay and do not finish it all, you can leave it on the free food shelf for anyone to use.

When you are cooking in a hostel, you should always check out the free food shelf to see what has been left behind. You can often find spices, sauces, condiments and much more that you can use to add more flavor to your meal.

When it comes time for you to leave and you have leftover food, pay it forward by leaving it on the shelf for someone else.

Great Places to Make Friends

Finally, I love hostels because they are a fantastic place to meet other travelers and make friends. I have met some truly delightful people in hostels over the years and had some unforgettable nights eating, drinking, talking and laughing together.

Hostels will not only save you money on your travels, but they also offer a fun communal atmosphere and present great opportunities to socialize with fellow adventurers.

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