Why stay solo in an apartment when you can stay in a hostel with great company... at an even greater price!?
It's 2019, the year that we finally reveal to you the reasons behind the hostel revolution! What started out as merely a cheap bed for the night has been completely turned on its head over the last few years. Hostels really have transformed the world of travel as we know it, and not only for young people in need of a bargain bed. More than ever before, even those looking for luxury are checking into state of the art hostels across the globe. We can even go as far as to say that there are now many hostels which have even overtaken hotels in terms of their facilities, design and global reputation.
At the beginning of the 21st century, most travellers would turn their nose up at the word 'hostel', and we certainly didn't blame them! Originally, these structures would offer very basic, simple accommodation, and staying in a hostel generally meant having to sleep in a large dorm room with bare walls, creaky beds, worn out pillows, shared bathrooms, minimal cleaning and strictly gender divided. This stereotype was made even worse thanks to the 2005 film 'Hostel' by Eli Roth, which truly worsened the negative reputation surrounding hostel stereotypes and clichés.
However, we can confidently say that these times are over once and for all! Today, hostels are enjoying an increasingly positive reputation, which will undoubtedly continue to grow thanks to the support of millions of young backpackers setting out to discover the world.
Due to this sudden change, we thought it would be a good idea to reveal to our loyal readers the exact reasons why hostels have had such an incredible success over the last few years. All your questions are answered below by our amazing team at HostelsClub, who have now been working in the business for over twenty years, visiting hostels all over the world and building trusted relationships with hostel employees and guests.
Due to the great energy, curiosity, commitment and passion of the HostelsClub team, as well as the solid knowledge they have built up over the last twenty years, our staff are true specialists in the field, which is why they can answer all the biggest questions about why hostels are so much better than Airbnb.
1. The Social Factor!
We begin our top 20 reasons with an obvious and undeniable strength of modern hostels today - the social factor! If you check in at a hostel, you'll be guaranteed to make friends from the moment you step through the door. Specifically designed with the intention of providing a vibrant meeting point, hostels have lots of common areas where you can meet and chat with other guests and travellers. To the backpackers of the Cats Party Hostel (Madrid) as pictured above, two chairs, a table and a couple of beers is enough to strike up a lively conversation! Break away from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and get stuck in... you'll come back from your travels having made lots of interesting friends from all over the world!
2. Don't want to go too far? Then just head down to the hostel bar!
Continuing on with the social theme, the true hostel hub is undoubtedly the bar, where guests and increasingly more often locals, gather to spend the evening. Some hostel bars are now so fully integrated into the foundations of the city that they have become real hotspots for young locals. From free welcome drinks and generous happy hours to a full calender of events and concerts, one thing is certain - you don't just go to hostels to sleep! This is certainly true of The Yellow Hostel in Rome, where every night the Roman locals go wild in front of the stage to live rock and pop rhythms, with all performances strictly by local, young, emerging bands!
3. Hostel Cooking
Another positive hostel highlight is obviously the kitchen. In most hostels nowadays you'll find well-equipped communal kitchens, so what better way to impress your fellow roomies from around the world than by preparing your go-to dish for them? There are also some hostels that organise their own fantastic local cooking classes, such as AthenStyle in Athens, which regularly hosts courses where you can learn how to make the classic 'Meze', the Greek tapas. Or Sunflower Hostel in Rimini, where a friendly 'nonna' (grandma) teaches the guests how to prepare exquisite homemade tagliatelle. And hopping across the pond to New York, at HI NYC Hostel, from Mexican to Thai cuisine, everyone has the chance to (literally) put their hands together and put their culinary skills to the test... the hostel even gives you an apron!
If instead you're feeling lazy there's no need to worry as almost all hostels have their own restaurants where you can eat at cheap prices. Want to go that extra mile? Then check in to a super posh hostel for gourmet cuisine!
4. Sharing vs. Private
The hostel stereotype of massive shared rooms is really hard to shake off, but let's try and end this myth once and for all! Today, almost all respected hostels offer private rooms with their own ensuite bathrooms! What's more, there is even a remarkable privacy upgrade in the dorms themselves... from black out curtains and reading lights to personal power sockets, even sleeping in a bunkbed can become an "intimate" experience! The choice is yours: if you love to share your living space with others then opt to stay in a dorm room, but if privacy is important to you and the idea of using a shared bathroom puts you off, just book a private room with a bathroom... we assure you that those found at Generator Rome will exceed your expectations by far!
5. You'll always be in good hands!
Through speaking to the hostel managers as you go along your journey, you'll start to find similarities between their passionate stories, as many structures are run by a group of people who, after travelling the world far and wide, have decided to return home to transform it and turn it into a meeting point for the backpacker generation. And their main goal? To enhance and promote the beauty and uniqueness of their home city. This is why most hostels now offer city tours and evening events which allow guests an insight into the lesser known corners of the city. A truly unique offer, especially when it comes to exotic locations such as Makati... the pearl of the Philippines is best experienced through the eyes of the Z Hostel staff... every day at 16:30 in front of reception a group gathers round, ready to discover the secrets of the city, led by a fantastic team of locals!
6. Bar Crawls
We talked about tours, we talked about bars... now we'll talk about tours of bars! Introducing bar crawls! Lots of hostels, especially the most party-orientated ones, organise group outings to the liveliest places in town, looking for the lowest priced beer and the coolest DJ sets. The Pink Panther's Hostel certainly has a reputation, as its Royal Pub Crawl is one of the biggest events of Krakow's nightlife today. A tour of the four coolest clubs and pubs in the city, with lots of vodka shots and unlimited beer that keeps the flame going until the early hours of the morning.
7. Popcorn at the ready!
If you're a cinema fan and can't live without your daily movie even when travelling then you should know that many hostels now have their own movie rooms, usually a lounge area with a big flatscreen TV and a wide selection of DVDs or a Netflix subscription. In some cases you might even find that your hostel has its own cinema room, with a regular programme of viewings. The fantastic Safestay Madrid for example has transformed an entire room into a dream cinema... picture a massive screen, dim lights and comfy sofa-shaped seats... an exclusive environment to say the least!
8. It's easy to stay fit whilst travelling!
If we'd have told you some years ago that you'd be able to use fully-equipped gyms and indoor swimming pools at a hostel, which is the case at Plus Florence, would you have believed us? We're certain you wouldn't, however now it's the truth! Say goodbye to high prices and luxury spa hotels... at Isaacs Hostel in Dublin you can easily take advantage of the free sauna to recover from that (well-deserved) extra pint of Guinness! So, no excuses, even on the road you can shake off that laziness and stay in shape!
9. Open air... open mind!
More and more often, the highlight of the hostel is surprisingly found in outdoor spaces, usually in beautiful gardens or sun-terraces, as young backpackers gather round in search of new travel (or drinking) companions! From alfresco BBQ nights to lively karaoke sessions, different cultures and languages mix together and form new friendships... if the terrace offers great views, as we've seen in our article dedicated to hostels with the most spectacular rooftops, then that's a plus! One of our favourite hostel rooftops is without a doubt La Banda Rooftop Hostel: who wouldn't want to enjoy a delicious dinner with friends and watch the sun set behind the cathedral of Seville?
10. You'll never be bored at a hostel!
One of the biggest perks of staying in a hostel is the jam-packed schedule of activities on offer, designed to entertain guests and encourage socialising. When you check in, ask the staff about the events scheduled for the day and choose the one that best suits you (without forgetting to leave your comfort zone once in a while). They range from language lessons to ping-pong tournaments (or beer-pong if the atmosphere warms up!), jam sessions to karaoke, and the list goes on! There are even hostels dedicated to scuba-diving enthusiasts! If you are lucky enouggh to grab a bed at the very popular Tuscany Working Hostel, don't miss out on the Yoga classes, immersed in the rural landscapes of Grosseto: a truly unique experience!
11. Home Comforts
Air conditioning, free wi-fi, 24-hour reception... certain services are no longer exclusive to hotels and today many hostels are overtaking large hotels in terms of the comfort they provide. The most obvious example? The breakfast! Indulging in a long breakfast in a lazy morning is now one of the most loved and inevitable clichés of any holiday... and the hostel provides just that! At the Ostello Bello Grande in Milan you can have a massive lie in without worrying about missing breakfast, as it's served at all hours, complete with yogurt, cereals, bread, jam, fresh fruit and scrambled eggs. Hangover Paradise!
12. Instagram-worthy hostels
In recent years hostels have invested a lot into design and creativity, becoming places full of character and of course super instagrammable! There are hostels designed by famous architectural firms, others decorated by local artists, and others simply furnished with great imagination and themes. It's no coincidence that hostels have now become a point of reference for those in search of good ideas for furnishing their home! We like to think of the Fabrika Hostel and Suites (Tbilisi) as the perfect example of an aesthetically pleasing hostel. Through a great combination of bright colours, different textures, innovative materials, plenty of space and natural light, the result is a perfectly stylish environment where one feels completely at home!
13. Save some money without giving up your luxuries!
If there is one thing that hasn't changed in hostels during recent years is the quality / price ratio. Hostels have always aimed at providing accommodation for low-cost travellers, backpackers or flashpackers who, although they do not have big budgets, don't want to give up on a high level of comfort. Take, for example, the Design Hostel P182 in Berlin: just taking a look at one of the 49 private rooms complete with flat-screen TV and ensuite bathroom, positioned between the two trendiest districts of the German city, Kreuzberg and Wilmersdorfper, it's easy to understand that we're certainly not talking about ten euros a night here... however, even when the price is not really low, we can guarantee that by choosing a design hostel you'll be making a good decision!
14. Central Location
When confronting the Airbnb choice of accommodation to stay in during your holiday, you'll usually have to settle for accommodation in the suburbs at least once if you want to save a bit of money. The good news is that if you decide to stay in a hostel, you'll never have to worry about not being in a very central location, as many hostels promote their central location as one of the greatest strong points. For example, the SoHostel in London is located in Dean Street, which connects Soho and Oxford Street, practically the liveliest hub of the city! If you're travelling to New York, you can check in to the Chelsea International Hostel in the middle of Manhattan, whilein Barcelona the Kabul Party Hostel overlooks Plaza Reial, a stone's throw from the bustling Rambla.
15. Safe and Secure
Especially if you're travelling alone, it might not be a great idea to be hosted in someone else's home, exposing yourself to the risk of running into unsafe situations. In the hostel you'll never be an isolated tourist because as soon as you check in you become part of a group, and will always have staff on hand ready to help you. In modern hostels a lot of attention is paid to safety: access with electronic keys, video surveillance circuits, 24-hour reception, anti-fire systems, security safes... in short, you're in very good hands! If you're lucky enough to have a personal locker in your room, as is the case at the Kick Ass Greyfriars Hostel in Edinburgh, you're sorted!
16. Leave space for locals!
The Airbnb fairy tale makes us believe that everyone can travel the world by staying in the house of others, feeling like real locals. All this, however, has a downside, especially where historical city centres are involved as several studies have in fact found that the prices of rents in these areas have increased due to Airbnb, with hundreds of accommodation options cut from the long-term rental market in favour of easier economic gains in the tourist industry gains. A decision by the property owners that has and will continue to have a devastating effect on the social environment of these cities, with an army of students and residents who are forced to live elsewhere in order to make room for tourist accommodation. Also, artisanal shops and bars dedicated to residents (bakeries, butchers, greengrocers etc.) are inevitably closing down, leaving room for low-level commercial activities that are exclusively aimed at mass tourism (souvenir shops, fast-food restaurants etc.) ... What's happening in cities like Venice and Florence is a striking example of the damage of this economy. By staying in a hostel you are making a positive difference to the lives of the local citizens.
17. Sustainable Travel
Many hostels are committed to minimising the environmental impact of their activities: waste recycling, solar panels, upcycled-style furnishings with second-hand material and energy-saving lights are just some of the steps undertaken to ensure a more eco-friendly approach. One of our favourites is definitely Sleep Green in Barcelona: 100% electricity used is from renewable sources, there is a very strict waste collection, active recycling of toilet paper and exclusively biodegradable cleaning products... no wonder they have gained a place on the list of EU Ecolabel facilities!
18. Let's get ready to party!
If you're a party animal and the sky's the limit, always on the look out for fun when travelling, you should know that in the hostel you'll definitely find what your looking for. There is always a good opportunity to party, and so many common areas designed precisely for this. Not only are outdoor bar crawls and club nights organised by most hostels, there is also a lot of fun to be had within the hostel itself! Just look at the games room at the Nomad Hostel Kemang in Jakarta, where you can find ping-pong, table football, board games and consoles for video-game fanatics... maybe you can also find this in an Airbnb, but surely you want to have a group of backpackers to beat on PES or Mario Kart?
19. Become part of the hostel family
If there is one thing we have learned in our twenty plus years of working at HostelsClub, it's that behind every hostel hides the passion and energy of its managers: those who open a hostel instead of a hotel or Airbnb don't make this decision lightly. It's a choice that arises from the desire to offer not only simple accommodation, but instead to create a welcoming space, a meeting place that becomes a reference point for the city and for those who visit. The hostel staff are interesting and helpful people who love to socialise with the guests and share their love for the city. When you check in, you don't just grab the keys and head to your room, but rather you enter into a big family which will make you feel right at home!
20. And when it's too hot...
We left the best for last! The pool is that extra treat, that luxury service that rivals hotel standards. But we're not talking makeshift pools... we're talking real pools equipped with sun loungers, surrounded by greenery on which an outside bar serves tropical cocktails! The pool parties have thus become the most awaited event of the week for every backpacker, especially when they are organised by a hostel like the 7Fridays West Lake Hostel in Vietnam, which has made the pool its number one selling point!
It is here that we reach the end, and we hope to have opened your eyes to the wonderful world of hostels... now it's time to hear which side you're on! Leave a comment below and let us know if you believe there are more reasons why hostels are better than Airbnb... and don't forget to share this article if you're a hostel addict like us!
Finally, if you want to learn even more about why hostel life is so great, read our articles on how hostels have finally managed to beat hotels, as well as 11 questions about hostels that you'd never dare to ask... trust us, we're hostel professionals!