posted by Guest blogger - Matt Kepnes | 0 Comments
Hostel culture isn’t that big in America. Outside of a few large cities, you rarely find hostels. You just don’t have the travel culture other countries have that make them popular. Our view of hostels comes from what we see on movies and TV – dirty, seedy places, where someone might kidnap you and take you for medical experiments in Bratislava.
I used to have that view of hostels. When I began traveling in 2006, I stayed in my first hostel (Clown and Bard) in Prague. I didn’t know what to expect. Would I be able to sleep in a dorm room? Would my roommates be loud or dirty? Would my stuff be safe?
It turned out all my fears were unfounded. I had an amazing time. I met amazing people, we toured the city, had fun, and drank a lot of cheap beer. It was everything good you see in the movies about hostels. And since then I’ve been hooked.
Since my first backpacking trip, I’ve gone onto become a travel writer and as my income and opportunities have grown, I’ve had plenty of chances to move into fancy hotels and out of hostels. And while I do love the W Hotel chain, I have constantly stuck to hostels over the year. I may be older and no longer that backpacker with a set budget but I can’t break away from hostels. Even when I try, I miss them.
Why do I love hostels?
So what keeps me in hostels despite the fact I’m a light sleeper, hate snorers, don’t drink that much anymore, and could very well afford at the least a budget hotel? A lot of things.
Hostels are social - Hostels are a great place to meet people. Everyone is in the same boat as you and looking to meet people from around the world, make friends, and have a good time. It’s a social place. Hotels aren’t. Rented apartments aren’t. They are solitary. I don’t travel to be alone – I travel to make friends.
Hostels know it all - Whenever I am lost or need a good restaurant recommendation, I find a hostel. They know where the cheap local food is, where that museum is, the bus schedule, and everything in between. Why? Because they get asked these questions everyday. Hostels are often better than tourist information centers in terms of information. Staying at one means I’ll be sent to that nice little local café not some hotels expensive and often touristy recommendation.
Hostels are cheap - Hey, I’m cheap and so are hostels so it’s a match made in heaven. Even the most expensive hostels are usually cheaper than comparable hotels. I’d rather spend my money on drinks and nice meals than a luxurious room I won’t be in most of the day.
Hostels have better amenities- You often think that the more you pay for a place the more, you get. That’s not true. The fancier the hotel, the less likely it is you will get free wi-fi, breakfast, or inexpensive meals. I was recently at the W Barcelona and room service breakfast was 20 Euros plus tax plus gratuity plus a service fee! Ridiculous! In hostels, you get free wi-fi, breakfast, and sometimes free dinner! Hostels are just much better value than hotels.
I may have moved on from 24 person dorm room to the 4 bed or private room but I can’t leave hostels. Even if all I want to do is sit in the corner and do work for a few days, the energy and atmosphere of hostels is something I miss too much when I stay anywhere else.
I’m happily hooked on hostels.