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11 Reasons Why Hostels are Awesome

I feel like I’ve been bashing hostels lately; from sharing some horrible hostel nightmares to drawing up a list of unwritten rules for hostel etiquette for those who stay in a hostel for the first time.  However, it is not all bad!  I feel I now have to tell the other side of the story and emphasise why hostels are awesome and why I still stay in hostels despite everything you might have read in the other posts!  There are definitely places where there are hostels better than hotels, and here are just a few reasons why!

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Why I Love Hostels: Price

Sometimes you can get a good deal in guesthouses, Airbnbs or cheap hotels, but, generally speaking, it is hard to beat the price of a hostel bed in a shared dorm which can cost less than a good meal in most towns & cities!

Want to book a hostel for your next trip?  Check out HostelWorld for listings and prices

Choose your dorm size from 4 beds and up! Hostels are awesome
Choose your dorm size from 4 beds and up!

More Choice

Usually hostels have more than one type of room available, depending on how sociable you feel, or how far your budget will stretch!  You can choose from barn-like dorms for rock bottom prices, to smaller 4 or 6 bed dorms with air-con, or private rooms for the best of both worlds.  You get to choose how sociable you want to be.  You want to just veg out on your bunk all day reading?  Ok.  You want to make friends with everyone in the place and the hostel dog?  Great!  It’s your choice.

READ MORE: How to choose a hostel bed like a pro

More Inclusive

Hostels are no longer just ‘youth hostels’, they are for every age.  Some have no-child policies, while others are more self selecting like party hostels are less likely to have older guests.  That said, I have met people staying in hostels from 3 years old to 73 years old (approximately!) so they really are for everyone.

Hotel vs Hostel: More Places to Hang Out

Ever noticed how hotels just have your room and a dark & dingy lobby to sit in?  Hostels by their nature are more sociable, and tend to have more options for hanging out; from gardens with hammocks to bars, and sofas to just grab a book and read.

Hostels are awesome! This is just one part of the garden & terrace in my hostel in Antigua
Hostels are awesome! This is just one part of the garden & terrace in my hostel in Antigua

Making Friends

It’s a no-brainer really.  When you are sharing a room with someone you don’t know, talk to them.  A lot of hostel goers are solo travellers, so are glad of a chat, an offer to eat together, go sightseeing or to get drunk.

Why are hostels better than hotels?  Partying!

This applies less to me know than it used to, but if you want to go out and get drunk and party, chances are that someone else at the hostel will want to too.  If you like to party, there are well-known ‘party hostels’ in each city, so seek them out; usually places with an on-site bar tend to be more ‘party’ than others.  Conversely, if you prefer the quiet life, be aware of these so you can avoid them!

Making friends in hostels is easy!  That’s why hostels are awesome.

Good Deals on Other Activities

A lot of hostels which offer tours or excursions have specially negotiated rates to save you money.  They focus on bulk buys and group discounts so offer much lower prices than hotels would.  True, you may not get the luxury experience that a hotel chain offer, but the old adage of safety in numbers (and cost-saving in numbers!) rings true here.


Each hostel is different.  There are a few hostel chains which offer similar kinds of accommodation, but usually a hostel is a unique, small, family run or expat business.  Often the staff are volunteers, so can chat about their travels, and don’t look down on scruffy backpackers like me.  Unique artwork, cool music, chilled vibes, to me these are the little things that can make a big difference to my stay.

Cool art like this is really common in hostels, much more cheerful than hotels! Hostels are awesome
Cool art like this is really common in hostels, much more cheerful than hotels!

Cooking Your Own Food

Unlike hotels and guesthouses, a lot of hostels have kitchens available to use where you can rustle up your own meals.  This helps you to save more money instead of eating out all the time, offers a respite from fried street food, or the chance to cook meat-free or gluten-free meals safe in the knowledge that the chef hasn’t slipped something unexpected in your food.

Location, Location, Location

Don’t think that hotels get all of the prime real estate.  Some hostels have incredible locations, worthy of any 5 star property, and are usually walking distance to top attractions, bars and restaurants in the hip areas of town.

hostels are awesome! This was the view from my hostel in Bacalar, Mexico. Not too shabby eh?
This was the view from my hostel in Bacalar, Mexico. Not too shabby eh?

Volunteering in Hostels

There are a lot of hostels out there which offer work in exchange for a bed.  Generally, work would be for 5 hours or so 5 days a week, then you would have the rest of the time to explore, safe in the knowledge you have a bed for the night that you don’t need to pay for!  Work exchange sites like Workaway, Helpx, and Worldpackers have tons of similar opportunities listed so you can travel the world for free!

I worked in several hostels during my travels, and saved thousands of dollars in accommodation costs which meant I could keep travelling for longer, and could really get to know the area where I was working.  Although hostel work isn’t for everyone, it can be a great way to save money on your travels!

Worldpackers Discount

I’ve teamed up with Worldpackers to offer all Tales of a Backpacker readers a $10 discount, which means you only need to pay $39 USD for a full year’s verified membership.  Once you are a verified member you can apply to and message all the hosts on Worldpackers and volunteer all over the world.  What are you waiting for?!  Read more about the Worldpackers discount or click below to activate your promo code.


Why Stay in a Hostel? A Home away from Home

For me, a hotel will never feel like home.  But, with a sense of friendship and camaraderie, hostels really can feel like home.  One year when I spent Christmas away from home, I was volunteering at Hostel Home in Mexico City, and we all had Christmas Dinner together, and even exchanged gifts!

Do you love hostels?  Share your happy hostel memory below, I’d love to hear them!

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Why stay in a hostel for the first time? In the case of hotel vs hostel, there are always cases where there are hostels better than hotels, here are a few reasons why I love hostels!

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Last updated: February 15, 2021

12 thoughts on “11 Reasons Why Hostels are Awesome

  1. Lauren says:

    I wouldn’t mind staying in a hostel, but I like having my own space…so perhaps a private room? I’m in my thirties now and I usually prefer staying in apartments, but it would be nice to meet some fellow travelers in a hostel 🙂

  2. Sandy says:

    I agree 100%! My fiance and I are doing our honeymoon through Australia almost completely in hostels. People look at us like it’s not romantic. Um, what’s not romantic about only paying $67 for a private bungalow on a wildlife reserve?

  3. J Harvey says:

    Hostels have there merits for sure. However, I often find I love hotels a lot more. You get what you pay for, I guess. I’ve stayed in some pretty awesome hostels though!

  4. Megan Jerrard says:

    Totally agree with you on each of these pros on choosing a hostel – I love the social atmosphere of hostel life, but enjoy my own space and privacy, so hostel private rooms really are the best of both worlds 🙂

  5. Kasia says:

    I love hostels 🙂 I was staying once at really convenient hostel in Chicago. It was so close to the most important places and also the price was perfect for me.
    If I have to choose I prefer hotels, but I like the Hostels atmosphere 🙂


  6. Rhonda Albom says:

    I think my hubby and I are far above the age for hostels, but we’ve been to a few over the years. Sometimes you can find ones that have private rooms, which was great when we travelled with our kids. I’ve forgotten the name of my personal favourite, but it was in Berlin.

  7. Jenn and Ed Coleman says:

    We would be hard over for a private bath but, other than that, hosteling sounds totally cool. I have had friends who have done extended work/stay options for long term travel and came back with great stories to tell.

  8. Travel with Mei and Kerstin says:

    Great post! I totally agree with you why hostels can be more interesting that hotels. Even if we’re more into boutique hotels or apartment rentals right now, we used to stay in hostels a lot when we were in our 20s. It’s easier to make friends, they’re often centrally located, and of course they’re perfect for low budget travelers. Thanks for sharing this!

  9. Leah says:

    Perhaps I’m showing my age, but I’ve never stayed in a hostel. I might like it, but I think I’ve really passed the window of trying one out. Maybe in my next life…

    • Sarah says:

      Don’t worry about age. My first time staying in a hostel as a solo traveler was last year at age 36. I was wondering if I’d be the oldest one there, but it turned out that one of my roommates the first night was a grandmother from New Zealand. Quite a few were younger, but that was never an issue.

  10. Charli says:

    I do love hostels but I have to say I much prefer to house and pet sit. Having my own space, especially a work space, is so important to me because I work on the road and I find that there’s just too much going on in hostels to concentrate!

  11. Emily Kydd says:

    I’m a die hard hostel fan myself, and 100% agree with everything in this post. I stayed in my first hostel at age 17 in King’s Cross Australia, only to move quickly to Bondi Beach, where I had the best of the best and the worst of the worst (a chick bringing back dudes for bed time fun in bunk beds, in an all female dorm! WTF?!). As a solo traveller, I have met some of my best travel buddies in hosel common areas or eating the free breakfast in the morning. As I have aged, I definitely shy away from the party hostels, but I’m all about a good rooftop patio and some sunset beers!

    Great post!


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