Hostels are places that are ideal for backpackers or travelers on a budget. Traditionally, hostels have dormitory style accommodations, where guests can rent a bed, and the bathroom, kitchen and lounge are shared. Some newer hostels, however, now provide rooms that may be available for single, double or quad occupancy. Hostels have often been associated with the youth (obviously, it’s also commonly known as youth hostels) and backpackers. In general, most hostels are the cheapest form of short-term accommodation you can find. Some hostels even employ long-term residents as staff in exchange for free accommodation.
Hostels are usually cheaper compared to hotels and B&Bs. Like B&Bs, hostels have common areas such as kitchens, dining rooms and bathrooms. There’s a unique community feel to hostels, however, in large part due to the interaction between guests. Also, most guests of hostels come from all over the world, and are usually young, hip travelers (although most hostels accept guests of all ages). Some hostels also impose a curfew, or require their guests to do chores, and most hostels encourage its guests to share stories and travel tips, all of which add to the “homey” flavor of the hostel. There are very few facilities and services, you won’t even get complimentary toiletries in most hostels.
It takes a special breed of travelers to stay in a hostel. You have to be prepared for the lack of privacy and lesser comforts. There are also problems with security in some hostels, because of its dormitory type accommodation, although most hostels will provide lockers for their guests. The noise level can also be problematic, since the guests stay within such close proximity of each other. In a way, it’s like being in college again. A hostel is not a good option for a family, or a person who values peace and security. But it may be for you if you’re eager to meet new people, is traveling alone, and is willing to sacrifice comfort and privacy for the total cultural experience, or is on a very strict budget.