Why choose a hostel over other accommodation options?
I recently spoke briefly about our Lisbon hostel (if you read it yet, you can find it here) and I have to admit that while it turned out to be a great experience, I had my doubts before going.
People who have travelled a lot, often with little money, have plenty of hostel horror stories. From snoring roommates to strong body odours of fellow travellers to less than clean facilities, ask anyone who frequently stays at hostels and they’re bound to have a tale or two to tell.
However, they keep going back for more. In the end the positives always outweigh any possible negatives. So there must be something to this hostel thing, right?
I think so. Here are four great reasons to stay at a hostel:
If you’re travelling on a budget, hostels are the way to go. Staying at a hostel is cheap, so if you want to save those pennies, check out the hostel options available at your destination. The price will vary slightly depending on the amenities each hostel offers, where it is located within the city and the overall cost of living in your country of choice, but it’s pretty safe to say, staying at a hostel will be in the lower price range when it comes to accommodation.
Whether you’re travelling solo or not, a hostel is a great place to meet new people. You’ll find all sorts of travellers at hostels and that is one of the great things about them.
Granted, you won’t necessarily meet your next BFF, but you can get to know people from all over the world, practice a second language, learn about a new country, discover new traditions or foods… When you stay at a hostel you don’t only get to experience the country or city you are visiting, you can learn about many others from fellow guests and travellers.
Staying at a hostel for the first time is an experience in itself, and each trip after that will add many more interesting adventures for your traveller heart to cherish.
One aspect I found enriching was hearing how other guests were experiencing the city. We shared our discoveries and recommendations and they shared theirs.
At the end of the day we’d meet up back at the hostel and chat about what we’d been up to and where else we should go or what other places were worth visiting that we hadn’t been to yet.
After staying at a hostel, you’re bound to have some stories to tell. Good ones, funny ones, maybe some bad ones…Whether it’s someone you met, something that happened or just a funny anecdote from your stay, you won’t be short of things to tell the people at home when you return from your trip.
A Lisbon Tale
So, taking into account these four great reasons for staying at a hostel, our latest trip went something like this.
We picked Brickoven Palace based on price, location and TripAdvisor reviews. The photos looked pretty cool, previous guests seemed to have enjoyed their stay, it was within our budget and it wasn’t far from most of the places we wanted to visit. It is also well-connected by both metro and tram (the famous number 28 stops just outside) and the bus also stops nearby.
On our trip to Lisbon we somehow managed to meet two TCKs. What are the odds?
One of them was our tour guide (more about that here). The other was part of a great group of andaluces from Málaga we met at the hostel (not quite so surprising since half of Spain seemed to be in Lisbon for the weekend).
It was interesting, really. We were sat on the bunks in our hostel room, getting to know our new roommates, starting with basic introductions, as you do. But each answer was more puzzling than the previous one, until it suddenly all clicked. The conversation went something like this:
“Hi, we’re from Seville. Where are you from?”
“Yeah, well, I was born in X and I live in Y but my parents are from Z…It’s complicated.”
“It’s complicated?” my friend looked at me knowingly. “That’s just like you!”
Two TCKs and two TCK’s friends looked at each other and it suddenly all made perfect sense.
No two TCK stories are ever the same, yet something always rings true. We immediately pick up on that familiar multicultural aspect poking out from behind half-answers to ordinary questions or complex stories of where one is from. Our closest friends seem to have a knack at picking up that kind of thing too, pointing out the obvious similarities. Sometimes I think they get us better than we get ourselves.
What started out as casual chat turned into a pretty deep debate about, well, pretty much everything. From talking about Lisbon and Andalucía, we moved on to the Spanish education system, social inequality, politics, Brits in Spain, Brexit, youth unemployment, you name it…
Add a couple of rounds of Dixit while others where heading out for the pub crawl or other entertainment, and we soon realised we’d been labelled the geekiest group of travellers staying at Brickoven, judging by the looks we were getting. Not that we cared, we were having too much fun.
From getting directions, to restaurant recommendations and hearing places worth visiting, to great roommates, fun times and a few anecdotes, I can definitely say that this was a great hostel experience.
We have a few tales to tell from this trip: One of our two roommates on the first night was a real snorer, fortunately for us, they left the next day and we met the Málaga bunch. On the second evening, someone nicked our tomato sauce from the kitchen fridge, so we had to improvise for that night’s dinner a bit more than expected. And, of course, there is always an unwelcome someone who tries to force an unwanted conversation.
Other than that, we had a fantastic time, made some cool new friends and learnt a lot about the beautiful city of Lisbon. The facilities were everything we’d hoped for and, aside from the slightly noisy first night, we rested well in comfy beds after long days of fun and exploring. What more could we ask for?
How about you? What are your reasons for staying at a hostel?