About two weeks ago, I stayed in a hostel in Portland, Oregon with one of my best friends. I’ve always thought that hostels were better than hotels and have even stayed in a few during my trip to Spain last year. However this past week solidified for me that hostels are better than hotels. Now don’t get me wrong, I do love a hotel stay too. I love the comfy bed, the maid service, the little shampoo bottles and everything else that comes along with a good hotel stay. However with this trip, the Portland Hawthorne Hostel was a better option for our wallets. It was between a hostel and airbnb. After looking at this particular hostel’s website, I went with the hostel.
For those of you unaware, a hostel is a place to stay for travelers just like a hotel. However you often share a room with strangers in addition to sharing bathrooms, the kitchen and other communal rooms. The price is often between $20-$40 per night. Depending on the hostel, there are often options for you to have your own room as well. You just pay a bit more for that vs. a dorm room with say six-eight beds.
Hostels are extremely popular in Europe and are sought out by the backpacking community. However in the United States, you’d be surprised to find more hostels than you think. Websites such as hostelworld.com make it very easy to look up hostels all over the world. In fact, that was how I found the Portland Hawthorne Hostel. So we booked two spots in the co-ed six bed dorm. We were ready and excited.
After spending more or less a week in a hostel, I am now a full hostel supporter. So I decided to make this short list for you. Next time when you’re planning a trip, look up the hostels and see if any strike your fancy. It really is a neat way to travel. So without further ado, here are five reasons why hostels a better than hotels.
5. A real kitchen
Traveling can get expensive. One of the biggest ways that travelers burn through money is food. Eating every meal at a restaurant can be expensive, especially when you are traveling for a while. However when you stay in a hostel, you have access to a real kitchen complete with everything you’d need to cook a meal. You are free to go out and buy your own groceries, and store things in the communal refrigerator as long as you label with is yours. We were literally a two-minute walk from a Safeway grocery store. So at the beginning of the week, I picked up an assortment of food to munch on for the week. I bought things like fruit snacks, hummus, bananas and canned soup. It helped us live a bit more economically.
Additionally, each morning the hostel has free breakfast complete with tea and coffee. Also the Wednesday during my stay they hosted a community meal where each person paid $3. Super affordable, if you ask me.
4. Lots of resources
Hostels always seem to have a lot of information about things going on locally. When I’m sure hotels do as well, hostels give you more of the heartbeat of a city. For example, our hostel had flyers up about local festivals and open mic comedy nights. Additionally, there was information about public transit and city tours. Basically, hostels seem to gather up any information that may be helpful to travels and put it out. It makes figuring out plans for the day so much easier. Furthermore everyone on staff was friendly and helpful. They consider helping travelers experience Portland as best as they can to be a very important part of their job.
I think we paid around $32 a night in Portland. Some hostels are a little as $10-$20 per night. Hostels will always be less expensive than a hotel room. The reason they can charge less is that they host more people for their space than a hotel. So in turn, you exchange a bit of privacy for price. But honestly when you’re out exploring a city all day, all you really need is a bed and a nice shower.
2. Cross-cultural interaction
You end up talking to so many people when staying at a hostel. It’s kind of hard not to start conversations when you all have to eat breakfast at the same dining room table or share the same kitchen. During my stay I met people from South Korea, France, the UK and Australia. You end up talking and swapping stories about your cultures. Meeting people from other cultures is my favorite way to learn about the world. And you can do that by simply staying at a hostel instead of a hotel.
Hostels encourage social interaction like no one’s business. Our hostel for example had a community dinner night, a pub crawl and an open mic, in addition to breakfast every morning. It’s not at all uncommon to form friendships and go explore the city with people you met at your hostel. I ended up befriending a traveler or two during my stay in Portland. It was great. If you’re looking to do a solo trip, hostels are awesome because you can find people to do stuff with. You can find people to go explore that really neat part of town with or go to the pub with. It’s wonderful.
Have you stayed at a hostel before? What was your experience like? If not, have you considered it?
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