Travelers don’t need an explanation of what a “hotel” is (or isn’t, depending on the hotel) but most of us tend to think of a hostel as a cheap, grungy, dormitory place to lay one’s head, usually found in bad neighborhoods and for backpackers only who don’t care where they sleep as long as it’s cheap.
That may have been the situation once upon a time, but is so not so today! Take a look at different websites and get ready for a big surprise! Hostels are now available around the world at prices that will floor you. Is there are difference between a hotel and hostel? Only if a traveler is looking for a dorm room; otherwise, none.
Hostels are no longer for just backpackers willing to put up with anything as long as the price is right. Husband Marine Steve and I have, gasp…gasp…gasp…stayed in hostels, B&Bs and even three weeks living with a Romanian family while volunteering on an archaeological dig; all wonderful memories and unforgettable. We were wowed by a cutting edge Hostel in Ljubljana, Slovenia that was a former Prison; 20 cells had the original cell bars on the door and window and each of these 20 cells was artistically renovated over a 10-year period by 80 Slovene and foreign artists.
Hostels now offer:
- Private, en suite rooms (ensuite is a term that means: your own toilet, bathtub/shower);
- Free Wi-Fi and/or Internet;
- Usually, a free breakfast;
- Elevators; and
- Are usually located smack-dab in the middle of where you want to be.
Travel enriches my life, but country hopping is only possible by economizing wherever possible. We just returned from an excellent trip in Japan, walking the Nakasendo Road, once used by Samurai, Emperors and locals to get from Kyoto to Edo (present day Tokyo) in the 1600s, arrived in Kyoto two days early and stayed at the group hotel. The hotel rate was $200 US a night, including breakfast and our room was the size of a large, United States bathroom. No drawers to stow belongings, a double bed, an open alcove 24-inches wide served as the closet (think… three hangars wide). We lived out of, and tripped over, stacked suitcases partially wedged under a table for five nights!
Contrast that to a small hostel near uber-gorgeous JR Kyoto Station that had a rate of $42 US a night – private room with en suite facilities. That is beyond dirt cheap in Japan, an expensive destination for everyone. Good grief! I could have easily stayed here, met the group for dinner and day tours and saved $770 US, a big wad of money.
I want to encourage you to take the big step, travel to more exotic, remote destinations and consider staying in a hostel. You’ll save big money, and I guarantee that you will come back alive.