I love fancy hotels as much as the next robe-wearing, toiletry-snatching girl you’ll meet.
case in point
But sometimes, it just doesn’t make sense… or cents.
I don’t want to spend $150 on a budget room at some outdated nondescript chain hotel when that same amount of cash could get me a later stay somewhere super swanky like Lebua in Bangkok or La Purificadora in Puebla.
I want to save my accommodation budget for incredible experiences, not blow it on mediocre ones, especially when I’m traveling for weeks or a month at a time. $150/night, over a month, is a whopping $4500. YIKES!
Overpriced times like these call for
desperate measures awesome hostel stays.
But first, let’s be honest. Reeeeal honest.
Back in the day, I had no problem saving mad cash and spending just a couple bucks on a rickety bunkbed in a dorm room… maybe even without air conditioning. I spent the vast majority of my time out and about, and crashed in my communal room for just a few hours each night (a few buckets of Sangsom helped).
I didn’t need comfort, coziness, or even a good wifi signal. As my dad would put it, I didn’t mind staying in a “flophouse”, as long as I had a place to lay my head for the minimum price.
Today, though, I’m older, have trouble sleeping, and tend to travel for work (or at the very least, be traveling and working at the same time). I need a good snooze and fast internet connection, and I want some creature comforts and privacy.
These days, I value my sleep at the same level I value my cash.
But how do I translate that into reality?
I still stay in hostels for their wallet-friendliness (and sociability), I just opt for a private room for my sleep quality.
yay: it is possible!
YES, it’s true: most hostels DO have private rooms!
Why should you stay in a private room at a hostel? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons…
Upsides of staying in a private room at a hostel
A private room usually works out to be double or triple (or maybe even quadruple) the cost of a dorm bed at a given hostel, but still half or a quarter of the cost of a “regular” hotel stay in the same city. I’ve stayed in private rooms in hostels for anywhere between $10 and $30, depending on the location, but the price can skyrocket to $60 in more expensive places (like Singapore, Sweden, and the US). Totally, totally doable, even if you’re traveling for a month (or more) at a time.
many hostels offer bars, or other friendly common spaces
If you’re in your 20s or 30s, hostels are the best and easiest places to meet other travelers in your demographic. This is perfect if you’re traveling solo and want to make new friends. The hostel workers will also most likely be in your age range, meaning they are the ultimate people to hit up for recommendations on the coolest (and also least touristy) things to do.
Most successful hostels are located in the midst of the prime tourist areas and within convenient reach of public transportation points, aka exactly where you want to be. Yay!
Almost the same level of privacy as a hotel
You’ve got your own bed, your own room, your own space (for doing morning yoga, working until 2am, or eating random snacks in bed until you fall asleep. you do you.) … except for maybe that whole shared bathroom thing (but more on that in a bit).
Hotels usually offer overpriced tours that include a convenience markup. Hostels, on the other hand, are catering to a lower-budget audience and don’t add in a bunch of fluff and stuff that you really don’t need. So what if you have to walk a few minutes to a central square instead of being picked up direct from your hotel? I like the exercise and saving a few extra bucks.
Some hostels are REALLY cool
And some even have pools. Places like Room2Board in Jaco, Costa Rica, Abraham Hostel in Tel Aviv, Israel and Chicago Getaway Hostel in (obviously) Chicago, IL, USA are revolutionizing the hostel world with equal or better amenities as compared to hotels (including beach access, pools, beer pong tournaments on-site, movie and game rooms, and more), at typical low hostel prices.
Downside of staying in a private room at a hostel
Less in-room amenities
Most hostels don’t provide toiletries, robes and slippers, or daily housekeeping for any of their guests, including those in private rooms.
Shared bathroom (potentially)
not a bad shared bathroom
Some private rooms have private bathrooms, but most have shared bathrooms. I find I don’t mind this as much as I’d imagine (unless there’s some stomach trouble going on or the bathroom is super icky).
Can be noisy
If you crave some peace and quiet, you’ll want to avoid any place with the reputation of a “party hostel”. This is pretty easy to figure out via TripAdvisor.
Breakfast might be lacking
the hostel breakfast dreams are made of: totally not typical
Hostel breakfast is usually nothing compared to hotel breakfasts (except for at Abraham Hostels in Israel: wowza that’s the best hostel breakfast in the world, hands down). In most cases, you’re lucky to get some coffee or tea and white bread.
Pin it for Later: It Makes Sense – Stay in Private Rooms at Hostels