I was 17 years old when I first spent a night in a hostel with a friend of mine. We did an internship in Ireland and wanted to spend our days off exploring Dublin. Those led us to choose a hostel, as it’s the cheepest and most fun way to go 🙂 Of course, before our first hostel experience, we didn´t know what to expect and where full of the common prejudices:
1.) Hostels are dirty
I know, your friend told you that his cousin´s girlfriend told him that she once slept in a hostel which was not clean at all, but I´ve been to about 10 different hostels already, and was (I confess) surprised to find each spotlessly clean. Of course, there´s black sheep in any kind of business and there definitely ARE dirty hostels, but very few of them. To prevent going for one which is not well kept, just go on Trip Advisor or Hostelword and check out the reccommendations for the specific hostel you are looking for.
2.) My stuff will be stolen
…if it´s being handelt with carelessly. I personally don´t really think of people sleeping in hostels as thieves, but you can go for the safe side and always use the provided lockers (which all hostels have!) either by bringing your own lock or (in most hostels) borrowing one at reception and giving them a deposit. That way, nothing can be stolen, no matter who your roommates are 😉
3.) Hostels aren´t safe for girls
I thought about this prejudice for quite a while before sleeping alone in a hostel the first time. I read a lot of reviews, and nearly everyone tells you not to worry, because it´s safe. I personally have never been harrassed or even flirted to in a hostel (the latter only in the hostel bar 🙂 ), and neither has one of my friend or the people I met at hostels told me they were. But if your roommates seem suspective, you can always ask to change rooms, if you explain your concerns at reception. Also, you can just book a “girls only” dorm or even go to a “girls only” hostel, if you want to be on the safe side 🙂
4.) My roommates will annoy me
I know, if you´re just thinking about the possibility of your roommate snoring all night beside you is making you cringe. But there are always ways to avoid stuff like that: just have your earplugs and sleeping maskt with you any hostel you go to. If you are a light sleeper, talk with your roommates and find out when they get up so maybe you avoid being woken by them by getting up at the same time. Another easy way to avoid being woken is to go out yourself of course, but pay attention not to wake your roommates yoursefl when you get back 😉
5.) Hostels don’t offer breakfast
I was surprised to find out how many hostels offer a (mostly small and simple) free breakfast or a discount at the nearest café! Just check online in advance so you know how to plan your day.
6.) Staff at hostels is unfriendly
As far as my experiences go, friendliness is always object to the situation and how friendly YOU are treating the staff. Of course, I´ve been greated grumpily at hostels already, but hey, that´s whta happens anywhere if the receptionist is having a bad day. Mostly though, the staff was amazingly friendly and helpful, always answering my endless questions about directions, recommendations and sightseeing-advice. Often they even let you print out your boarding passes if you ask nicely. So as Steve Maraboli once said it:
“Don’t wait for other people to be loving, giving, compassionate, grateful, forgiving, generous, or friendly… lead the way!”
7.) Hostels have few and poor bathing facilities
So…yeah. Some of them really have poor bathing facilities. I guess that´s the point where I can´t cheer you up. But here´s my advice how to avoid waiting ´till one o´clock in the morning util you are able to shower: I always and only book hostels with bathrooms “ensuite” no matter how large the available dorms are. Because sharing your shower with the 5 other girls in your six-bed-dorm is way better that doing so with the other 30 people sleeping on the same floor as you. Many hostels offer ensuite room for slightly higher prices, but it´s always worth going for it!
8.) The rooms are incredibly small
First of all: small is relative. If you are expecting 40 squaremetres for your four-bed dorm, you MIGHT be dissappointed…;) So, back to serious: Simply check online and on the websites I suggested, or call the reception and ask for the size of the room you´d like to choose. Also, at reception they often give you tips about which room´s the largest or best equipped. Just ask nicely 😉
9.) Walls are very thin
There are loads of hostels in quite old buldings, so many of them actually HAVE thin walls, but recently, more and more hostels have opend in newly built buldings, so just check online or call, don´t worry about asking, always keep in mind that reception staff has probably dealt with hundreds of more stupid questions 😉
10.) There are only hostels in unsafe areas
No. NO. NO! At last but not least a prejudice I can fully contradict, as you can often find hostels in much more central areas than hotels anywhere in a normal person´s price range. So if you want to be central, this is the best way to go!
I hope I could kill some of your prejudices or at least make you think about them twice. At the end of the day, you´ll just have to think about what you want from your accomodation: If you simply want to enjoy peace and quiet and have time alone for yourself at night, a hostel will never be the place to go to for you, no matter, how nice your roommates will be. But if you´re comfortable with sharing rooms and meeting new people after a long day of sightseeing, try it!
What experiences have you made with hostels so far? Tell me in the comments below 😉