One of the toughest parts of any trip for most travelers is figuring out where they’ll catch some Zs at night. It’s arguably a more difficult process than choosing your destination (hint: choose the cheapest airfare). Hostels, hotels and homes each have major upside. Depending on the type of traveler you are, they’ll each come with a set of cons as well.
But don’t sweat it! I’ve broken it all down for you to make the planning part of your trip easier on you. If you follow along a little bit, you’ll probably end up saving some of that hard-earned cash. And who doesn’t like saving cash, right?
Let’s take a look at Hostels, Hotels, Homes and Which One Is Best For You.
I’ve said it time and time again: I’m a hostel lover. Maybe’s it’s because blogging still hasn’t made me rotten rich (and probably never will … sad face), maybe it’s because I’m still in my 20s, or maybe it’s because I’ve made some supremely cool friends at hostels that I would’ve never met elsewhere. Regardless, hostels have my heart, at least for now.
I love the surprise of showing up at a hostel and still not knowing what the place is actually like (never trust the pictures) or who my roommates will be. I like strolling around to see the artwork, meeting the staff (often other travelers), checking out the hostel group activities and the general layout as well. I love knowing that I’ll make a few friends before the end of my stay. I also really love not paying 3665207259845767 billion dollars a night to sleep in a bed. Personally, I tend to go for party hostels (because, well you’re not the boss of me) with 24/7 bars, breakfast, no curfew, and a laid back chilled out vibe.
Here’s what to expect at a proper hostel:
- Private, semi-private and/or dorm rooms (2 – 8 bunks)
- A communal kitchen (kitchenette) with appliances and utensils or a hostel run restaurant/cafeteria/bar
- Common area/lounge
- Private or communal washrooms with/without toiletries
- Hostel activities like pub crawls, local parties, tours, game/movie nights and more
- Laundry service
- The opportunity to work in exchange for lodging, food or maybe even some coin.
- *Bonus: A better feel for the local vibe
There are my favourite hostel booking sites:
Hotels are essentially the anti-hostels of the world, and there’s a humongous market for them. The travel and hospitality industry has convinced the majority of unseasoned or casual travelers that hotels are truly their only option. They offer hotel, flight and car rental deals. They’re in magazines, movies and TV shows. So yea, it’s safe to say that hotels occupy a pretty big slice of the accommodation pie.Some people love hotels for the same reasons they hate hostels: consistency or a lack thereof. A hotel is usually a part of a larger chain and has a set of standards to follow (some hostels do the same thing). Hotels can also vary from company to company. Luxury hotels like the Ritz Carlton can charge north of $6000 a night for their best suite that comes with an entire country inside of it. Anything from high art, jacuzzis, room service, complimentary alcohol, a personal chef, you name it.
On the other side of the hotel spectrum (way way way down on the other side) you can book a room for $65/night and up for a basic bed, bathroom, TV, maybe a fridge and clean (ish) linen that gets taken care of daily. The issue with hotels (for budget travelers) is that even at their cheapest, they’re still 3 to 5 times more expensive than the cheapest hostel. But some people don’t mind paying that for what they consider to be the added measure of reliability and the usually better customer service training, which admittedly, not all hostels have. If you’re not particularly social, a bit older, don’t mind cheap decor or flat out don’t care if you’re spending a lot of money on accommodations, hotels might be a good option for you. The best part about hotels is that you can usually score a few free nights if you have a good credit card reward plan. And yes, everything is better free. Here are some reliable hotel booking sites:
Home and apartment rentals are essentially the love child of hostels and hotels. I’ve definitely rented my fair share of apartments and aside from some booking trouble with Airbnb, I enjoy these types of services. I usually rent homes when I need to focus on work while on the road and want to enjoy a little more privacy, you know, singing really loud in the shower, dancing while preparing a meal, walking around naked, the usual shenanigans.
This type of accommodation is neat because you can usually talk to the property owner extensively beforehand to know exactly what to expect when you arrive and also for insight on the local scene. Owners usually make their personal amenities (some people lock their stuff) available so you’ll have access to everything they use. You can usually find homes that are located in less touristy more peaceful parts of town and if your host is really cool, he or she will offer to show you around town or hang out like a local (always recommended). I’ve heard stories of hosts going out of their way to pick up guests at airports, track down lost cellphones and more. And since you’re pretty much going to be alone or in a small group, the wifi connection usually works much better. Here are some good home rental sites:
There are a few disadvantages to renting apartments though. The cost, which is a deal breaker to budget travelers, is an obvious drawback. Even if many are moderately priced, they’re still more costly than hostels, particularly budget hostels. When you’re living on $20 a day, you can’t afford to spend $70 a night on a cosy pad, can you? Next, crappy hosts are a real thing. Some hosts are rude, have no sense of punctuality or are blatantly discriminatory. Finally, sort of like hostels, the pictures you see may not accurately reflect the space you’ll be staying in.
In all 3 types of accommodations there a few rules you should always keep in mind:
- Read the reviews (I can’t stress this enough)
- Shop around for the best price and location
- Travel during less busy seasons to save money
- Don’t be afraid to barter (hostels), negotiate (homes) or ask for freebies (hotels)
What’s your favourite type of accommodation out of the three? Which services do you use to book them? Leave a thoughtful comment below and let’s help each other out!
Until next time,