Are you hesitant about staying at a hostel? Did you watch the thriller “Hostel” back in 2005 and vowed never to stay in one?
Do you believe that hostels aren’t meant for travelers of color? Better yet, do you associate hostels with students, party-goers and backpackers?
After traveling to 26 countries and staying at hostels all over the world, I’m here to share with you that along with hotels, resorts, homestays and even Airbnbs, hostels are offering travelers a lot of value at an affordable price.
Despite your preconceptions, hostels have stepped their game up tremendously.
With a focus on creating memorable experiences for travelers, many hostel owners have abandoned the idea of being a low-budget accommodation offering few-to-no luxurious amenities travelers value.
Swimming pools and saunas, co-working spaces, rooftop bars, cinemas and even gyms are all luxurious amenities that have elevated the hostel experience. Here are six ways hostels are offering travelers more luxury on a budget.
When traveling, there’s something to be said about staying in the city center. One of the things that I appreciate about hostels is that they are often located near all the action.
Public transportation is accessible and oftentimes you are within walking distance of plenty of attractions, which can save you a lot of time and money. I love the fact that I can pay a fraction of the price to stay in some of the best neighborhoods in town by simply staying at a hostel.
Do you have to share a room with other people? This might surprise you: not necessarily.
Hostels offer a range of room options to cater to travelers with various budgets. Generally, the more you spend per night, the fewer people you’ll share a room with. However, if privacy is a concern, book a private room.
Private rooms are a great option for older folks, families, a close group of friends, couples or anyone who wants more privacy throughout their stay.
Although I’ve stayed in 10 to 20-bed mixed dorms (with both men and women), when I stay at hostels, I prefer to stay in a four-bed female dorm whenever possible.
With three other women, plus myself, I’ve found that I can sleep comfortably with few interruptions (snoring, coughing, getting up in the middle of the night, etc.). I’ve also found that it’s easier to make friends when there are fewer people in a room. Since we’re living together for the next few days we might as well get to know each other, right?
During two of my solo trips to Iceland, I befriended other female solo travelers from the U.S., New Zealand and Singapore who I met in my dorm.
For more tips for traveling to Iceland, my Iceland travel guide for black women details everything you need to know to plan an affordable, adventurous and culturally enriching trip.
What about the bathroom situation?
I get that sharing a bathroom with a ton of people may freak you out, but depending on the hostel you choose, you could skip the communal bathrooms down the hall and enjoy the luxury of having an ensuite bathroom in your shared room.
With an ensuite bathroom, you only share a bathroom with the other people in your room. When I stayed at the Loft Hostel in Iceland, my ensuite bathroom was cleaned every day and managing our schedules was easy.
Some hostels may sweeten the deal by offering free toiletries like shampoo, conditioner and body wash, just like a hotel.
While we’re on the subject of amenities, here are the other things I look for when booking a room at a hostel:
- Reading light
- Power sockets next to bed
- Luggage storage
- Privacy curtains
Did you forget your power adapter at home? Need earplugs or a padlock for storage? The good news is that you may not have to go to the local pharmacy or department store to pick up what you need.
At some hostels, you can conveniently buy these travel essentials right at the front desk.
Unlike other accommodations, hostels create a warm and inviting atmosphere for travelers. From the large communal open spaces to inclusive events like sightseeing tours, family-style dinners and pub crawls, at a hostel you can meet people and have a good time without forcing it.
Friendly faces are always asking where you’re from and what you’re up to next.
Some hostels may even partner with tour companies and bus tours. In Dublin, I stayed at a hostel that offered free historic walking tours as well as bus tours to different parts of the country.
Another hostel in Lisbon offered fun activities like surfing lessons and bike rides.
Finally, although many hostels offer free breakfast (which is worth taking advantage of), some hostels only offer complimentary coffee and tea service throughout the day.
Other hostels go above and beyond to keep you fed. At a hostel in Rome, I enjoyed free pasta every evening. The food was delicious and this was an easy way to meet other travelers while shaving money off my food budget.
During my hostel stay in Baltimore, I made pancakes. The cooking utensils and ingredients were all laid out for me and I didn’t have to worry about washing the dishes afterward.
Overall, I’ve had wonderful experiences staying at hostels and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them. From intimate and quirky to youthful and luxurious, I challenge you to include hostels next time you search for accommodations.
Look for the luxuries that you value and if you book a stay, pat yourself on the back for finding yet another way to stretch your travel budget, you financially savvy traveler!
Danielle Desir and is a travel finance strategist, writer, podcaster and the creator of The Thought Card, a travel finance blog and podcast empowering people to make informed financial decisions – travel more, pay off debt and build wealth.