In countries that are popular with most backpackers, hostels are nearly a dime a dozen. Europe, the United States, Canada, and Australia are all places that cater very well to backpackers. For the first-timer, however, the prospect of hosteling can be a bit intimidating. What should you expect and what are the generally accepted rules for hosteling?
Old school hostels normally have strict curfew (if you aren’t in by the time of curfew you sleep on the street) and only allow students and youth, but the more modern hostels these days differ little from your typical budget hotel. These days, a hostel is typically a form of short-term accommodation that has rooms for backpackers laid out in dormitory style — that is, a single room lined up with many beds, which you pay for the use. There are shared facilities for everyone, including use of the kitchens, laundry rooms, bathrooms, and the lounge rooms. Also, do not expect luxury and privacy when it comes to hostels; you will seldom get it.
General things to look for when booking a hostel:
- Check if the hostel is clean and well-ordered. The bathrooms of hostel are always a good indication of how well the hostel is maintained.
- See whether the hostel is a member of a national or international hostel network. It means that they have a higher degree of quality control. Independent hostels can be quite good too.
- Check if the hostel has any particular rules you should take note of, like curfews, admission times, and drinking. It might interfere with whatever plans you may have.
- Check if the hostel offers twin and double rooms aside from dormitories.
- Ask whether the hostel offers security for valuables and items. Most will offer private lockers and a storage system.