Traveling on a budget and/or being a college student might require a person to stay in a hostel. To be honest, I prefer not spending much money on where I am staying since that is where I will end up spending the least amount of time awake. I have had wonderful experiences in hostels, contrary to what others think or see in horror films, and in some cases I prefer it over hotels. So let’s being with some of the best hostels I have stayed in.
1. Lisbon. Portugal– BA Hostel Travessa da Cara, 6, Bairro Alto- This hostel has a great location, being right next to the most scenic and picturesque view of Lisbon. It is close to the city’s nightlife and the staff was very friendly and helpful. Breakfast is included and there is air conditioning, which was great for when I was there in the summer.
2. Buzios, Brazil– Hostel Lobo Inn Buzios Av.Jose.B.R.Dantas 2980– My friend and I originally planned to stay here only a few days but ended up staying a whole week. The owner of the hostel is a lot of fun and is a native of Buzios who can suggest places to go to and see. We would have “family dinners” with the other guests in the hostel so it was easy to meet people. Also it is right by one of the many beaches of Buzios so it has a good location.
3. Florence, Italy– I still can’t remember the name of the hostel but this was one of the first good hostels I ever stayed in. They had a cafeteria where they served an awesome breakfast with great coffee in the morning, and then it turned into a bar and dance club at night.
4. Sevilla, Spain– The Architect Hostel Calle Joaquin Guichot 8 1 Planta- I am partial to Sevilla since I studied abroad there but when I went back two summers ago we stayed in a hostel for the weekend. This hostel has an amazing location that is right by all of the main attractions in Sevilla; the cathedral, the Real Alcazar, the main streets and shopping areas of downtown. They also had a great rooftop area that you can hang out on during the day or at night. Also it is located right next to Discover Excursions which is a tour group that plans outings in Sevilla and to other cities and countries.
For booking hostels I have always used hostelworld.com and you can sort by availability and price. When looking at ratings I usually keep a few things in mind, besides the price:
- Overall rating: usually stay at a place that is 85% overall rating or higher, then a high rating in location and cleanliness are the most important in my opinion
- Facilities: includes breakfast, Wi-fi/Internet/Computers, 24 hours reception or security, lockers to lock up your luggage, linens and towels (sometimes you have to pay $5 for towels and sheet and then they pay you that back when you check out) and air conditioning if traveling in the summer.
However, sometimes you might have thought you found a deal and when you show up it is not what you expected. Here are a few of my less pleasant experiences:
1. Rome, Italy– Finding a place to stay in Rome is rather expensive and so we found a hostel that was in our price range for the two nights we were there. When we arrived we saw that the room was very dark and were disappointed since the location wasn’t the best and our price didn’t include anything additional. Worst of all, the shower was not cleaned and only had cold water that trickled out the shower head. I forgot to wear flip flops in the shower and ended up getting a plantar wart.
2. Alicante, Spain– The one good thing I could say is that the hostel is very close to the beach, which was the main reason why we went to Alicante. However, the hostel was dark and a bit dingy. It didn’t have air conditioning or if it did it wasn’t very effective and considering that Alicante is very hot and humid in the summertime so we were a bit uncomfortable.
3. Athens, Greece– The hostel we stayed in in Greece was far away from the downtown and where all the attractions were. We had to take a long subway ride to get to anything. Also the owner was rude so it didn’t make for the most inviting stay. Luckily, we were only there for 2 nights.
So there you have it, the best and worst experiences in a hostel. I will say that I am fortunate that I never had any tragic experiences with getting my stuff stolen or feeling insecure. But here are a few tips for traveling and staying in a room with strangers, especially if you are a female traveling alone:
- Make sure to lock up your suitcase in a locker at the hostel and put your money in different places.
- Bring a money belt- so when you sleep you can keep your money, passport, important documents etc. on your body
- Don’t have fancy electronics charging when you go to sleep. Charge them when you are back and getting ready for bed or again in the morning.
- Many hostels have female only rooms, so you may want to book one of those instead for privacy