Let’s be honest for a moment, there are numerous types of accommodations you can chose from on your travels. You can rent an AirBnB, stay in someone’s extra bedroom, rent an RV, hotel, and even hostels. Your first thought might be aren’t hostels for backpackers? Mine was. The first time we stayed in a hostel during our trip to Ireland, we didn’t know what to expect. Drew having previously seen the 2005 movie Hostel, was more than a little nervous and his first words when I suggested staying in a hostel were “I don’t want them to take my eyes” (to be fair I did wake him up from a deep sleep to ask if we could try staying in a hostel in Ireland). Once we actually talked about it (this included at least two cups of coffee to wake him up) we decided why not? We were going to only take backpacks to Ireland, so we were technically backpackers, right? Now having stayed at different hostels in two countries (Ireland and Iceland) we have formed a very good opinion of hostels for couples, and yes even for families. I am writing this for those of you who, like me, thought hostels weren’t an option. They are an option, and a good option at that if you take that jump and just try them out.
Hotels: I am going to take a guess and say most of you reading this have stayed in at least one hotel, so this part is going to be pointing out somethings that you probably already know a little about.
Hotels usually have some form of a kitchenette. This could be just a small fridge or just a microwave, but for the most part, the hotel rooms I have stayed in have something to cook with or keep food cold in. This makes it a little harder to eat healthy and on a budget because you don’t have the option really of cooking a meal.
Obviously all hotels have an en suite, but how important is that really? Before you go off the deep end and say it’s a necessity, really think about how much time you spend in your room at the hotel.
Hotels are usually more expensive. This is not always the case, but for the two times we stayed in hostels there was a significant price difference between the hotels and hostels which is why we went for the latter. For the elevated price of hotels, you do get someone who cleans up after you almost daily and fresh sheets and towels whenever you ask along with complimentary shampoo and body soap. Hotels do offer the “little things” to make your room feel more like a home away from home.
Hostels: Most have some form of a shared kitchen. While this is SHARED, it has everything you could want and need to cook with, so stopping at a grocery store and buying something to cook is a very real possibility. Now while eating in your room is usually a no-no, there are common places to hang out and eat in.
Here is the big fear, the bathroom/washroom! For the hostel in Ireland, we had a dorm style bathroom, that had about 7 bathroom stalls, 6 sinks and 4 shower stalls. There was never a line for that bathroom and it was kept very clean. Was it really a pain to get up in the middle of the night and walk a few extra feet to get to the bathroom? No it wasn’t at all, the only difficult part was remembering to grab the key so I could get back into the room. In Iceland, there was one washroom for the entire floor or rooms! I almost cried when I saw this, but again we only had to wait for the washroom once while we were there, and it was large and spacious and not a big deal at all. There are some hostels that offer a private room with private washroom, however those usually are the same price as hotel rooms, so try out the shared washroom, it’s really not so bad.
One of the biggest worries I had was sleeping in a room with other people I didn’t know. If you are an extrovert, this isn’t going to be an issue at all, however Drew and I like our privacy so we opted for a private room in both locations. This afforded us a double bed and the peace of mind about leaving our stuff there while we wandered out. The rooms are not large, in fact they were the exact opposite, but it was a bed and that’s all we really needed. Now I mentioned hostels for families. This is where I believe they are family friendly. I talked with quite a few families staying there and they all chose a hostel over hotel because they could completely rent out the 4 person dorm style room (two bunk beds) for less than a hotel room and give their kids their own beds so there wasn’t fighting. Most hotel rooms offer two double beds or the like, at hostels, kids had their own space and it kept the fighting down.
I really suggest trying a hostel out at least once if you can. If you are worried at all about it (like we were with our Ireland hostel), then book one night at the hostel and the next at a hotel that way if you really don’t like it, it’s just for one night.
Have you stayed at a hostel? What was your experience?