When Quentin Tarantino’s horror movie Hostel hit cinema screens in the summer of 2006 it made headlines for all the wrong reasons, with its unflattering portrayal of hostels in Bratislava as dark, dingy and unsafe places frequented by chainsaw-wielding psychopaths in scary masks.
Clearly this portrayal is about as close to reality as Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland, (it was filmed in Prague for a start!) but there are a number of common misconceptions about hostels out there and we aim to set the record straight. Read on to find out the truth about hostels…
#1: Hostels are unsafe
While all but the most uneducated of travellers would recognise the graphic and gory scenes of extreme violence in Hostel are a long way from reality, there are people out there who believe that hostels aren’t all that safe.
Yes, hostels do get broken into from time to time and things get taken, but this happens in all types of accommodation. The truth is that, in many cases, you are as safe in a hostel as you are in a three or four star hotel.
Nearly all hostels now have luggage storage rooms and personal lockers, where you can store your valuables. Many hostels also operate 24 hour receptions and employ security guards for added security.
There are also several women friendly hostels out there with female-only dorms and floors, like Papaya Female Youth Hostel or Orient Youth Hostel in Istanbul. Check out our other top female-friendly hostels too.
#2: Hostels are basic & low quality
There are people out there who believe that the quality of accommodation and facilities provided at hostels is considerably lower than at hotels because of the price difference.
Visions of hostels comprising of no more than a bed in a cramped dorm and access to a grubby communal shower room are a thing of the past, with many hostels now offer some outstanding rooms and facilities that make them comparable with mid-range hotels, at a fraction of the price.
Many hostels offer private rooms with private bathrooms, TVs, wardrobes and writing desks, and have the sort of facilities you’d expect of a three star hotel, like a fully stocked bar, swimming pool, games room, a 24-hour reception and laundry service.
What a hostel may lack in comparison to your typical three star hotel- facilities like maid service, wake-up call or on-site restaurant, it can often make up for in terms of atmosphere and experience.
Of course, there are hostels that provide the absolute minimum for your money but the same applies to many budget hotels. The key is to do your research and, more often than not, you will find a hostel that has exactly what you’re looking for at a price that is often considerably less than your average hotel.
#3: Hostels are all sex, drugs and rock n roll
Many people view hostels as the preserve of 18-21 year olds who are looking for all night parties, wild sex orgies, non-stop drinking hang-outs and drug-taking opportunities.
Yet this is some way from the reality. Any hostel worth its salt operates a strict no drugs policy and will not tolerate excessive drunken behaviour.
Not all hostels are party hostels either, but there are plenty of those if that’s what you’re looking for. Many opt for reading rooms and hammocks in tranquil settings, as opposed to dance floors, disco balls and sound systems. The key is to read the hostel’s description on the website before you book to make sure you’re going to get the atmosphere and surroundings you want.
If you are after a party, check out the Best Places to Stay up From Dusk Till Dawn and the Best Party Hostels in Rio. If you’re not, take a look at our post on Cheap Yoga Retreats or Spa Breaks or Hostels Even a Mother Would Love.
#4: US hostels don’t accept domestic customers
Many American travellers believe they are not welcome at American hostels, believing that the owners want to maintain an ‘international’ appeal.
This is a myth. While some hostels do operate a ‘no locals’ policy, the vast majority of American hostels welcome US backpackers and travelling parties with open arms.
Top hostels in New York like the current NYC HostelBookers’ customers favourite ZIP112 Hostel, Chicago’s top-rated Chicago Getaway Hostel and USA Hostels San Diego (top photo) are among the many US properties that welcome domestic travelers.
The reality is that there is all manner of different types of hostel out there from gay and women friendly to party hostels that will suit even the fussiest of travelers. Our advice is simple- look before you book!