Why everything you thought you knew about hostels is wrong

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Nowadays, hostels have become a first choice, not a back up solution for savvy travellers. The new breed of hostels are smashing the outdated stereotypes they’ve held in the past with trendy décor, modern technology, planet-friendly practices and most importantly, fun opportunities to meet new people – which is really what travelling is all about.

Enjoying an evening with strangers, soon to be friends, not having to pay an arm and a leg to stay in amazing accommodation and being in the centre of town – my guess is once you give it a try, you won’t want to go back.

‘But everyone knows hostels are dirty’, I hear you protest. ‘They’re only for young, single people who want to party all night’ you cry. Wrong! So wrong! I’m here to bust those myths once and for all.

Here are the 10 most common misconceptions about hostels and why you shouldn’t listen to them.

Hostels are dirty

False. The truth is, hostels are really well maintained and consistently cleaned to a high standard. It’s in the hostel’s best interest to keep a clean environment in order to get the best reviews from travellers. Just ask Star Hostel Taipei Main Station – the winner of Hostelworld’s annual HOSCAR award for Best Large Hostel who have a 9.7/10 score from over 1,600+ reviews.

Sure, you may encounter a messy roommate from time to time or a lazy traveller who didn’t clean up properly after themselves in the kitchen. But when it comes to the cleanliness of your bed, sheets, bathroom, floors, and common spaces – everything is just as well looked after as the nearest hotel.

Still not convinced? Take a look at some other Hostelworld’s annual HOSCAR award winners to get a taste of what you can expect.

Hostel misconceptions - Hostels are dirty

Star Hostel Taipei Main Station won a 9.7 score for cleanliness in our annual Hoscars.

Hostels are only for partying


Unless of course cosy rooms, heated blankets and four different types of bath to get your snuggle on sounds a little too party for you – in which case, the amazing Yudanaka Seifu-so in Japan is probably not for you (said no one, ever).

Or the Giggling Tree hostel in China. A stay at this hidden beauty in a little Chinese village in Yangshuo promises cycling along the rice fields, bamboo rafting on the Li River and hiking to the Green Lotus Peak. The hostel has its own pool to lounge next to and there’s even a chef who cooks up delicious local dishes every night.

If you’re after a zen hostel experience, check out some of these popular yoga hostels that are sure to soothe your mind and soul, or take a look at the best surf hostels around the world.

Hostel misconceptions - Hostels are for partying

Yudanaka Seifu-so in Japan know a thing or two about relaxation. 

Hostels aren’t safe

Thanks to a certain 2005 horror film (Hostel – we’re looking at you), hostels can get a bad safety rap. Luckily, hostels in real life aren’t a horror film plot. So yes, this myth is indeed FALSE.

Hostels are actually really safe. They’re staffed all day and night, most have security cameras, and there are lockers to put all your belongings in when you’re sleeping or out exploring.

Take a look at Russian hostel Soul Kitchen in St Petersburg. Alongside 24-hour security and reception, security lockers, safety deposit boxes and key card access, Soul Kitchen blend the privacy of a hotel with a hostel social vibe and stunning interior design. And all of our hostels have a security rating from other travellers so you can check before you book to put your mind at ease.

Hostel miscomceptions - Hostels aren't safe

Russian hostel Soul Kitchen in St Petersburg is safe, clean and oh so Insta-worthy.

Hostels have no privacy

False. Hello, private rooms.

I’m not just talking shabby private rooms with a place to lay your head at night. Nowadays, these private rooms are rivalling some of the best and coolest hotels in the world. Not sold? Just take a look at TOC Hostel in Barcelona whose Superior Sweet comes with its own private roof terrace (!) for those times that you’re not sipping gin and tonics by the rooftop pool (!!).

Hostel misconceptions - Hostels have no privacy

Valencia Lounge Hostel in Valencia is on the top of #designinspo Pinterest boards.

How about this incredible bed in Onas Hostel & Suites, Argentina. Right in the heart of Córdoba, this hostel has a pool, grill restaurant, an indoor forest and the most instagramable reception in Argentina (probably). Should I keep going? Take a look at our favourite hostel private rooms for more inspo.

Even if you don’t want to spend the extra cash on a private room, the hostels of the world have heard our cries for privacy and redesigned their interiors. Check out hostels like Home Lisbon Hostel in Lisbon or Sputnik Hostel & Personal Space in Moscow, who create little private nooks of heaven in even their biggest dorm rooms.


Hostels are basic

Basic (adj): Devoid of defining characteristics that might make something interesting, extraordinary, or just simply worth devoting time or attention to.

Hostels are basic? False. False, false, false.

How many people do you know who’ve slept in a bed built into an old fiat car at Hostel and Garten Eden in Leipzig, or a bright green camper van inside Kingkool in The Hague or in a converted jumbo jet at Jumbo Stay in Sweden?

That’s what I thought.

Hostel misconceptions - Hostels are basic

Jumbo Stay gives new meaning to the mile high club 📷@taylorcooperband 

Hostels are only for hardcore travellers

False. Hostels are incredibly diverse when it comes to travellers – everyone is welcome whether you’re a 20-year old backpacker or a 75-year old travel enthusiast who just loves meeting new people.

While you do come across those who’ve been travelling for months (lucky them!), many hostel guests are simply popping in for a weekend getaway, on a summer vacation or are just there for the rooftop swimming pool and bar vibes – we’re looking at you Freehand Los Angeles.

Hostel misconceptions - Hostels are only for hardcore travellers

Freehand Los Angeles, where you might just never want to leave the pool.  

Hostels are only for people who can’t afford hotels

Hostels are cheaper than hotels – true.

Only people on a budget stay at hostels – false.

Sure, a standard hotel is fine, but if you’re looking for dreamy rooftop pools, incredible views, buzzing outdoor garden bars and some of the most instagramable interiors around – move over hotels and make way for the new wave of luxury hostels.

From watching films in indoor teepees to free yoga in the garden, hostels are pioneering a new kind of travel luxury that’s far more interesting than a generic hotel room, like Kex, a boutique hostel, bar, restaurant and jazz club all in one, in the centre of Reykjavik.

Hostel misconceptions - Hostels are only for people who can't afford hotels

We want to hang out all day in this luxe lobby at Kex, Reykjavik.

Hostels don’t have amenities

False. Oh boy, do hostels have amenities.

Let’s start with the basics – wifi. Unlike many hotels, most hostels have free wifi. Loads of them have computers you can use and some hostels like Ostello Bello Grande even go the extra mile and provide guests with free mobile Wi-Fi devices.

Then there’s the extras that make so much sense, yet you don’t come across in a generic hotel. Take for example Backpackers Villa Hostel in Switzerland, who have a meditation room in case you’re having trouble switching off.

How about at The Yellow in Rome who have a co-working space to catch up on work, or Urban House in Copenhagen with a live music bar, billiards lounge, a designated quiet room and the added bonus of a bicycle shop.

Amenities – come at me!

Hostel misconceptions - Hostels have no amenities

Want a haircut? A tattoo? A co-working space? The Yellow in Rome has it all. 

Hostels are all the same

The only thing that all hostels have in common is value for money and the opportunity to meet other travellers. Two excellent common features – and that’s pretty much where the similarities end.

Big or small, luxury or budget, boutique, unusual or classic, every hostel is different and that’s what we love about them!

Lucky Lake Hostel in Amsterdam is an opportunity to stay in a multi-coloured cabin paradise with an outdoor kitchen and a bright yellow breakfast bus, while the Skyewalker Hostel in the Isle of Skye has an incredible glass dome that lets you gaze at the stars and fulfil your inner astronomer’s dream.

Whether you can’t give up your luxury, crave something design-focused, prefer things a little quirky or are in desperate need of an eco retreat –there’s a hostel for everyone’s travel taste.

Hostel misconceptions - Hostels are all the same

Stargazing at  Skyewalker Hostel.

Hostels are only for singles

False. I refer you back to point 4 – Hello, private rooms.

Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you suddenly have to miss out on all the fun vibes. Not only are hostels better for your budget, modern hostels have serious style and if you check into a private room, you’ll feel like you’ve escaped to your very own luxury boutique hotel.

If you’re travelling with your other half, staying in a private room gives you the best of both worlds – the privacy of your own space and the perks of staying in social, cool, unique and budget-friendly accommodation. Win-win.

Hostel misconceptions - Hostels are only for singles

Am. Never. Leaving. Ever. Ember Hostel, Denver

About the author

Kamila is a travel and lifestyle writer from Australia, currently based in Paris while she attempts to learn French and eat as much pastry as possible. She’s passionate about exploring new countries like a true local, immersing herself in new cultures and hunting down the best coffee wherever she goes. Follow her adventures on Instagram and on her blog London New Girl.

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