Hostels aren’t just for backpackers and young travellers. While the majority are still under the age of 35, people of all generations have been choosing hostels as an alternative to hotels. These days there is a wide range of hostel types to choose from, including boutique hotels that offer many of the comforts of a hotel along with extras like a social environment and character.
Still, hostels aren’t for everyone. For some hotels may be the better choice. If you’re struggling with the decision, the answer as to which is best really depends on your travel style and preferences.
Typically the biggest difference between a hotel and a hostel is the price. Hostels are almost always cheaper, offering everything from dorm rooms with bunk beds with a shared bathroom to private, en-suite rooms so that you can enjoy more privacy. Of course, booking a shared dorm room is much cheaper. According to TripSavvy, in places like Southeast Asia, Central America, and Eastern Europe, you could spend as little as $5 a night. In the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and Western Europe, these rooms start as low as $15 a night.
If you’re a gap year traveller or a traveller of any age who just purchased a home among Ottawa real estate or any other place and money is tight, hostels may be the ideal answer for making that trip affordable.
Generally speaking, hotels come with more amenities – many offer free breakfast buffets with hot and cold items, on-site restaurants, and room service, along with a pool, gym, and other facilities to take advantage of. At a minimum, a hostel will have a bed and access to a shared bathroom. Most have lockers or storage areas and may come with shared kitchen facilities and items to put together a basic breakfast, with coffee, bread you can toast, jam, and fruit. They might have computers for guest use, laundry services, and board games, but you’ll probably have to bring your own towel for the shower and a hairdryer. That said, higher-end hostels, like those boutique options, may come with comfy robes, towels, and complimentary bath products too.
While some hotels, especially the more luxurious types, have friendly staff willing to offer insider tips and attentive service, those employees are often hired under a corporate structure that requires them to maintain a level of professionalism. They may be friendly, but it’s only to a point. They’re not usually the kind of people you can expect to sit down and enjoy a beer and a conversation with. Hostel workers are sometimes fellow travellers who enjoyed their stay so much they decided to stick around. They’re more than willing to share everything they know about the destination, someone you might be able to enjoy a few pints with, making you feel like you’re staying with good friends or family,
If you’re looking for a good night’s sleep, need to get work done, and/or just want to be alone, a hotel is probably the better bet. While you may be able to meet others in the hotel bar, hotels aren’t usually known for their socializing opportunities. Hostels, on the other hand, can be great for solo travellers, a place where you can stay when you’re feeling lonely and want to meet like-minded people, possibly one or two to share your journey with plenty of opportunities for mingling. Many hotels organize special social nights or even events like pub crawls too.