Booking hotels seems like the standard for most travellers, but in recent years, the number of backpackers and holiday makers checking themselves into hostels has risen. So, hotel versus hostel? What makes them different and what type of traveller do they suit best?
Demand, competition with rival hotels, location, and season are all factors that contribute to a hotel room price. But for your bog standard hotel room such as a double Premier Inn or Travelodge room, it will cost you anywhere between £70 and £100 a night in the UK. However these prices will vary all over the world; in parts of South East Asia you can book out a luxury hotel room for £20 a night or even less. So it’s important that you do your research on hotel prices in your chosen destination of travel beforehand.
In comparison, a night in a hostel is almost unnervingly cheap, for reasons we will go onto explain below. A night in a standard hostel can cost you anywhere between £10 and £50 a night. Of course these prices vary depending on location. Less developed countries are considerably less than those that are heavily industrialised. When it comes to hotel versus hostel, it’s a no-brainer that a hostel is ideal for those with a tighter budget.
Your typical hostel room will be basically decorated and the upkeep might appear minimal. From experience, hostel rooms are plain, cramped, are quite often very dated looking. It pays to wear flip flops or slip-on shoes when walking around in hostels as the floors are often unsanitary. They are very often overheated as air conditioning is considered a luxury – combined with the body heat from numerous strangers, the rooms are very humid feeling and can be uncomfortable. However, for what you pay, you can’t expect Egyptian cotton sheets and a marble Jacuzzi bathtub. If you’re looking for somewhere to lay your head at night for cheap and plan on moving on the next day, a hostel is ideal.
Typical hotel rooms, being private, are more spacious, have regular maintenance, and are more equipped i.e. with a tea making station and television. Hotels are more suited to those who plan on staying in a specific location for more than a couple of days as the conditions are generally more comfortable. Plus every traveller needs time to themselves at some point or another.
In hostels, you get exactly what you pay for; the basics. Beds are typically metal framed with standard white bed sheets, thin mattress, and one pillow – many are bunk beds. For more money, you can possibly sleep in your private room with a friend, but this isn’t an option in all hostels. In most cases, sleeping in a hostel for the night often means sharing a room with up 14 other strangers (possibly even more)! Typically, the less you pay, the more people you’ll be sharing a very stuffy room with.
As many of you will already know, a standard hotel room is a private room with a somewhat decent single or double bed of fair quality. Some hotels offer family rooms which include a double bed and a single bed (or two) presumably for children. It goes without saying they are much more private and comfortable than hostel accommodation, but it is safe to say they cost considerably more.
Unfortunately, in a hostel it is likely you will be sharing a bathroom with multiple strangers. This isn’t something to get worked up over as long as everyone is respectful and practices good hygiene. The toilets and general plumbing might not be the most efficient in the world, but it does the job. As for showering, many hostel guests won’t make the effort to shower due to a lack of privacy. Some hostels might not even offer the option of a shower. So be prepared and bring body wipes and make an effort to keep yourself clean until you can find somewhere to wash. It is also a good idea to wear slip-on shoes during bathroom visits for the same reason we mentioned above; floors get dirty and might not be regularly washed.
Hotel bathrooms tend to be well maintained; many will offer free shampoo and body wash and will almost always provide towels. They are cleaned daily during room service. But in a bog standard hotel room, don’t expect any fancy marble worktops or perfect water pressure. The option to shower and use the bathroom privately means hotels are more appropriate those who know they won’t have any time in the very near future to shower.
In a hostel – breakfast, lunch, and dinner isn’t always offered. For the low price you pay to stay in a hostel, you’re really only paying for a night in a bed. Some offer tea and coffee, maybe even toast if you’re lucky. But it’s good to keep in mind you’ll probably need to find food elsewhere.
Hotels will often offer buffets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner which is sometimes included in the room price but it isn’t uncommon that you’ll need to pay extra for it. Food is generally of good quality and most hotels offer a variety of different dishes and will cater for those with specific dietary preferences/needs.
Contrary to the name, hostels aren’t as terrifying as they may seem. Living in such close proximity to strangers immediately erases any awkwardness. Everyone is in the same boat and the situation is a great one to laugh and joke about with the people around you. It’s really a great place to make friends. Occasionally, you might come across someone who isn’t a people person, but they will often just keep to themselves.
In a hotel, it is difficult to make friends unless you spend most of your evenings sitting at the hotel bar. The whole point of a hotel room is privacy, so don’t expect to become acquainted with many people during your stay like you would in a hostel environment.
To conclude, when it comes to the debate ‘hotel versus hostel’ – it really depends on the nature of your travel and what you feel most comfortable with. If you’re on a tight budget, good with people, and are constantly on the move; a hostel is most than likely the better option for you. For those just holidaying, need their privacy, and have a more flexible budget; the luxury of a private hotel room will suit you best.
If you plan on travelling soon, take a look at our tips for travelling alone.