What Hostels Are:
Hostels, also called simply backpackers, are a cheap way to lodge safely with like-minded travelers around the world. Hostels usually feature security, social life, showers and rooms with multiple bunks. Some hostels are bare bones beds and baths at $8 per night; some are almost luxurious. Read on to learn all about staying in hostels, what to expect, and finding and reserving the best bed for you. We’ll largely be talking about European hostels, though Latin and US places have basic similarities.
Who’s Staying in Hostels:
These places are populated by young and young-at-heart backpackers and a few (usually older) budget businessmen. Flashpackers sometimes choose single rooms. You’ll also find couples on weekend breaks in European joints. Most of your fellow guests will be international, with less Americans than you might expect.
What Hostels Have:
Hostels always have dorm rooms with multiple beds, shared bathrooms, a check in area, a cooking/food area and a sometimes secure spot for your pack. They’ve usually got common areas for socializing, even if just picnic tables in a courtyard. Laundry facilities are often offered — sometimes bars, tourist desks, and internet access, too. Most hostels have linen and pillows. European digs may have breakfast. Some places have (sometimes seriously sweet) suites and private rooms.
What Hostels Don’t Have:
Backpackers’ don’t have concierges, daily in-room maid service or bedspreads. They’re seldom spotless, and they have waaaay less bed bugs than your mother thinks. They seldom have in-room phones and tv’s, but often have tv, pay phones, games, vending machines and computers in a common area; some have no towels (lame!), or require towel deposits. Management doesn’t supply, but may rent, locks for in-house lockers.