Hostels tend to set the pulses racing of those who have never stayed in one before as the media tends to portray horror stories of backpackers. Whilst hostels are not glamorous, they are a low-budget choice of accommodation for travellers. Usually, when you book a place at a hostel you are essentially paying for a bed and a communal bathroom. You may find yourself in anything from a room of four to twenty other travellers.
Pro: Hostels are cheap accommodation and, although prices cry from country to country, you will be thrilled with the prices you can come away with. Generally speaking, you will very rarely end up paying more than £10 per night in a hostel, and significantly less in South America and Asian countries.
Con: If you are going travelling, you will likely have to get over any fears relating to privacy. You could be sharing a dorm and bathroom with complete strangers so if you aren’t a particularly sociable or outgoing person, hostel life could be a little tough for you.
Some hostels do offer private bedrooms and bathrooms, but these will need to booked well in advance to save any disappointment.
Pro: If you are travelling in a group, hostels are a fantastic option for you to stay together (providing the hostel has capacity). Sometimes you may end up sharing a single hostel room with your group spread out across four bunkbeds – this is great and essentially as if you have your own hotel room. However, if you do find yourself sharing with strangers, it is the perfect opportunity to meet likeminded people.
Con: For safety and security, some hostels have a curfew. It is a simple case of, if you aren’t through the security gates by the stipulated time, that is you out on the streets for the night. Whilst it could be annoying if you fancy a night out, it is warming knowing these measures are taken.
Pro: Although they may not be as obvious as hotels, there are hostels in most major cities and towns throughout the world. You can usually book online well in advance and pay if you know your exact plans.
Con: Hostels are not always manned 24 hours a day. Therefore, if you come home at am and have lost your key, chances are that little can be done until a member of staff arrives. Hopefully a very kind roommate can let you in!
Pro: In films and the media hostels are portrayed as dirty and unsafe places, but this isn’t true. Hostels have a strict policy where only people staying at the hostel are permitted access. Also, most hostels have lockers that you can pop your own padlock through so make sure to pack one of these.
Con: Sharing a room with strangers does heighten the risk of theft; hotel staff have been known to have sticky fingers too! For this reason, always make sure your belongings are safely in your locked locker or on your back. If there isn’t a locker available, keep your essentials on you at all times.