The word “hostel” is a cringe-worthy one for many people out there. I can only assume that for these people the incredible prices that only a hostel can offer simply don’t compensate for the lack of privacy and other annoyances that come with sharing living quarters with strangers.
I have never been one those people. In a hostel, I get to travel cheaply AND meet new people?! From day one I was in love with the idea. Despite the uneasiness it struck in my parents’ hearts, I stayed in my first hostel in 2011 and have stayed in many more in the three years since then. My parents have also eased up a bit on their worrying about me in a hostel dorm (thank God). Now, while my love of hostels runs deep, I have slept in enough of them to see their bad side as well.
Usually the cons of a hostel come from the guests you may be unluckily paired with. For those issues, I can’t blame the hostel. They cant’ control all of the riff raff that pass through their doors. There are, however, many other things about hostels that rub me the wrong way. Things they can and in my humble opinion, should control. They’re small issues that won’t kill me, but I try to avoid them at all costs, and you should too.
After I’ve looked at all the majorly important factors like location, security and cleanliness, these are the little details I search deeper for in the hostel’s description or in its reviews. They’re the things that separate the good hostels from the great ones and the things that could make me choose one place over another. At the end of the day, they’re really just my hostel pet peeves, but heed my warning, friends! Don’t get trapped in a hostel with one of these problems if you can potentially avoid it.
A lack of power outlets
I’m no electrical engineer so I don’t know how to solve this problem, but I’m sure it’s not that complicated, and for the love of all things good on this planet, it needs to be fixed! When there are only one or two outlets in a room filled with ten people it’s absurd. Sharing is not a problem, but when there’s a waiting list to use an outlet, that’s too much.
One of the best hostels I’ve ever stayed at was one in Dublin that had a personal mini shelf with a reading light and an outlet for both regular and USB plugs attached to every single bed. It was genius. Bless their traveler-loving hearts for that.
The awkward bed
Paying for linens
One Bathroom Per Floor
When you’re sharing one bathroom with an entire floor of people, you better hope that no sudden urge to ummm… relieve yourself, comes over you while someone is deciding to take an eternally long shower. Besides having at least one toilet that is separate from the shower, I really wish that hostels would have more than one shower per floor. Twenty people sharing one shower is beyond a small inconvenience. It’s crazy and makes for a cutthroat, Hunger Games style fight for the bathroom. That’s no fun for anyone. If you find yourself stuck in that kind of situation, I suggest showering at random hours of the day if you can, and may the odds be ever in your favor.
Sidenote: When it comes to the shower situation, I have realized that the big college dorm style bathroom with several shower and toilet stalls really is the ideal set up. I thought I liked the idea of “ensuite” bathrooms where you just share with the people in your room, but even that can be fairly inconvenient as well. If you’re on a tight schedule and someone decides to hop in the shower before you, then you’re screwed for lack of a better way of putting it. So just keep that in mind as well when you’re figuring out the bathroom situation at your next hostel.
Internet in Common Areas Only
The only thing I hate more than slow internet, is a hostel that only offers wifi in its common areas. I shouldn’t even call this one a pet peeve because it doesn’t just annoy my a little bit. I absolutely hate this with a fiery passion. Besides making zero sense, it is incredibly inconvenient to have to sit in the common area every time I need wifi. It’s the 21st century, and the hostels with this major issue need to get with the times. I always check to see if anyone mentions major internet problems in the review. Some hostels may offer wifi “throughout” the building but because the place is so big or they only have one or two routers it ends up not working everywhere. In the last hostel I stayed at, I had wifi in the lobby, a little bit in the hallway and stairwell leading up to my room (sometimes), and then the minute I stepped inside my room I would lose the connection completely… SO. ANNOYING.
Contrary to what all my complaining may suggest, I truly do love staying in hostels. Thanks to hostels, I have been able to travel to more destinations than I ever would have without them. I have always loved meeting new people, and now that I am starting to dabble in the life of a solo traveler, I am even more grateful for the great company I often find at the hostels where I stay. I’ve just been around the block enough times with this whole hostel thing to know what to look for in the descriptions and reviews I find online.
So if you find yourself booking a hostel at any time in the future, keep in mind the pet peeves I’ve mentioned here. Sometimes it’s the small details that can really make your stay at a hostel that much more pleasant.