Lodging is one of the biggest vacation costs that you can control.
Within the travel community, there seems to be mixed feelings (opinions?) about whether travel consultants (ahem, me) should recommend hotels or hostels as appropriate lodging for travelers.
There are advantages to both:
- Hotels offer private accommodations with en-suite bathrooms. Standard amenities include housekeeping, linens, television, wifi. Some hotels even have restaurants, spa, and concierge services on premises.
- Hostels emphasize the social aspect of traveling and offer dorm-style rooms (single sex and/or mixed) where guests pay by the bed per night.
Some hostels offer private rooms. Bathrooms are typically shared (although more are starting to offer en-suite bathrooms). Linens and breakfast are usually provided. Most hostels offer a common kitchen and social area for guests to mix and mingle. Because hostels cater to more long-term travelers, additional amenities could include laundry facilities, wifi, and lockers to store documents.
What does this look like in numbers?
Let’s say you’re traveling to Paris for 3 nights in February. An average hotel room will cost $60-185/night whereas a hostel will cost $30-60/night.
There was a time when hostels were synonymous with young backpackers, college students, and young twenty-somethings who were finding themselves through travel. While much of this is still (to some extent true), hostels have been under increasing pressure to compete with budget hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs, and apartment rentals offered on public sites such as airbnb or Flipkey.
This means that hostels today are more modern, cleaner, have better security protocols, and offer similar amenities typical of a budget hotel. Hostels are able to offer all of this while still staying true to its roots as a crossroads for guests to meet like-minded travelers, share some stories, and catch some z’s for a very affordable price.
Hostels are not for everyone, particularly those who may not be open to sharing space with other guests (whether it’s the room, bathroom, or a common area). That is okay. However, if you’re looking for ways to cut costs on your extended vacation (5+ nights), it might be worth looking into hostels as alternative accommodations.
I last stayed in a hostel in 2005. I was in Florence, Italy with my best friend. We had just graduated college and it was our 2nd stop on our European adventure. We had a private double room; the bathroom was across the hall. I remember it being clean, the A/C worked, and it was a short walk from the Duomo.
As a 22-year old on a budget, I really couldn’t ask for much more.
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