Hostels get a bad reputation, but that doesn’t mean the negative rumors are all true. Hostels are like snowflakes, each unique in their own way; some are beautiful and others are just too cold and wet to enjoy. For every hostel that’s dirty, there’s a squeaky clean one. For every hostel that’s too far from the city center, there’s one in the midst of it. And for every hostel with a snorer, there’s one with your potential soulmate. If you want the adventure of a lifetime, stay in a hostel next time you go to Europe for these reasons.
Hostels are Cheap
The most obvious reason to stay in a hostel is the price. Hostels can run as cheap as $4 per bed per night in Prague, although most hostels throughout Europe run in the $15-20 range, with certain cities such as London, Amsterdam and Dublin as the most expensive on the spectrum. Not only will you save on the cost of a place to rest your head, but the owners know their travelers are typically on a budget, so they offer many money-saving options, such as free dinners, cheaper tour rates and free drinks at the hostel bar, as well as providing specific city budget tips that only the locals know. Unlike hotels, most hostels also have full kitchens that allow you to store and cook food, so you don’t have to eat out for every meal.
You Never Know Who You’re Going to Meet
Okay, this could be a glass half empty or half full scenario, but hostels are places where, if you put yourself out there, you’re sure to meet someone you mesh with. This is a huge pro, especially for the solo traveler. Aside from community spaces within most hostels, there are often activities to break the ice for you with other travelers. One such hostel in Budapest, Hungary, Carpe Noctem, offers events as a group every night. Together you can hit boat parties, karaoke and pub crawls. You arrive a friend and leave as a best friend… or maybe even more. Do you ever hear those wild Eurotrip stories where you meet the love of your life? Stay in a hostel and it might just be possible.
Experience the City Like a Local
While many of the hostel workers are also travelers and expats, they’ve often been in the city for months and have had the opportunity to explore on a more intimate level. They’ve met the locals, done the tourist attractions and gone out until the wee hours of the morning. At most hostels, you can ask your friendly workers where to go for the best cuisine, the most unique cocktails, the most underground comedy show… you name it. And because most of them are also travelers, not only do they have an intimate relationship with the city, but they also know exactly which tourist traps to avoid and which are worth it. On a logistical level, they know the best ways to exchange money and travel around the city. You might not have a hotel gym, but you can learn about an affordable bike rental and route right at your fingertips.
Most hostels have everything you need to make them feel like your home - cozy living spaces where you can lounge with your computer, a kitchen, tea, coffee and more. Many have laundry and some even have a pool. There’s also often a small restaurant or bar where you can get bites and drinks before going out on the town. Unlike an Airbnb, you can still feel like you’re out without really going out. And unlike a hotel, you get all the amenities, but at a really reasonable price. Breakfasts are anywhere from one to ten euros per day. Some even have free toast and pastries for all. Hostels also usually have books, games, DVDs and more, so if you need a break from all the touring around, your hostel family will have your back.
Hostels Have Unconventional Designs
Every hostel is different, which means every layout and theme is different. Some hostels are pretty simple, but others have outdoor courtyards, basement bars and showrooms, rooftop access and other interesting features. In Latvia, there’s a military prison hostel that’s said to be haunted. In Turkey, you can go to a treehouse hostel. In Reykjavik, you can stay in an eco-hostel with almost all vintage recycled furniture and decor. In Prague, you can stay in the MadHouse hostel, in which every room has original graffiti. No matter where you’re going, there’s sure to be a hostel with a story and an unconventional travel experience to go along with it.
When it comes down to it, if you’re looking for a dreamy foray into your very own wonderland on a budget, look no further than European hostels. With booking websites such as Hostelworld, you can read reviews, learn and compare different options and see all your past bookings in one place. Even if you’re not on a budget, staying in a hostel is a must-do at some point in your adventures.