Originally a European concept, specifically originating in Germany in 1912, hostels, like the one featured above of Barnacles Hostel in Galway (Bongo Night by Barnacles Hostel via Flickr), have become an alternative for anyone yearning to escape the boundaries of expensive hotel nights. The search for cheap yet, actually good hotels is time-consuming, strenuous, and obviously, a chunk of your earnings. After all, time is money. So, if you’re not struggling to find a hotel worth your price, you’re probably doling out more than half of your wallet without even a second glance. However, as more travelers become increasingly frustrated with the heaps of money that they are spending for one night at a decent hotel, the alternative, hostels, become the imperative solution. But, for some, hostels may not be the best option and thus, may not be of much value. Which one is best for you while traveling through Europe? Find out by reading on.
Europe is home to hostels. Before exploring the pros and cons of hostels in general, let’s explore two of Europe’s most memorable and exciting ones.
The Gallery Hostel
Rua de Miguel Bombarda 222, 4050-377 Porto, Portugal
Located in the heart of the bustling city of Porto and surrounded by the Art District, the stylish Gallery Hostel is perfect for sightseeing and includes a library, bar, a game room, a garden area, a lounge, an art gallery (of course), and a movie room for travelers. The rooms are clean and ample, whether you choose dorm rooms or private suites. You can find more information about this top-ranking hostel at http://www.gallery-hostel.com/en.
Absolute Hotel (the name’s a fake-out; it’s actually a boutique hostel!)
1 Rue de la Fontaine au Roi, 75011 Paris, France
The Absolute Hotel is one of Europe’s finest and reasonably-priced hostels, with quick access to historical landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame. The rooms are clean, comfortable, and cozy, and the staff are friendly and helpful. This hostel also offers free Wi-Fi Internet access, and a delicious complimentary breakfast. Even better – the registration is open 24 hours, so there’s no curfew or lockout. Find more information at http://en.parisinfo.com/paris-hotel-accommodation/68155/Absolute-Hotel.
So now that I’ve given you two fabulous hostels in Europe to whet your appetite, how can I possibly be negative about hostels? Well…
Do you value your privacy and space?
Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of sharing a dorm with a stranger, and trying to make themselves feel at home in an unfamiliar setting in front of these strangers. Unless you’ve lived your entire life like a college roommate, you may find sharing the same sleeping space a questionable aspect of hostels.
Because you’ll have one or more people in the dorm with you (unless you pay more for a private room), it will seem as though the space is two times smaller. You’ll have to share a bathroom, a kitchen, and sleeping space with people from all walks of life (including those for whom proper hygiene or cleaning up after themselves is deemed optional).
Feel like leaving your luggage bag behind to go sightseeing unburdened? Unless your hostel has secure, private, ample storage, you’re out of luck. I’m not saying your bunk-mates are going to be thieves (they’re most likely not), but you may not feel totally free-and-easy about the extremely curious guy who looked over your shoulder as you were unpacking and who enthusiastically volunteered to look after your stuff while you’re out and about for a bit.
Wading Further Out of Your Comfort Zone
Should you as a single dad or mom bring his or her child to a hostel? Well, you can – but it isn’t recommended. Many parents don’t like the “Bunk Beds” scenario for their small children or themselves. Some elderly folks with limited mobility won’t be too enthusiastic about bunk beds either. Moreover, the company with whom you may have to bunk (unless you’re in a group) may be unpredictable. The other person(s) may be obnoxious, inappropriate for a dorm-like situation, or disturb your sleeping habits with frequent noises or other irritating distractions. From personal experience, it’s not always “someone else” making you feel uncomfortable. Unexpected sickness in the middle of your stay at a hostel especially during the night while everyone in your dorm room is trying to sleep can make a polite person go stark-raving mad.
So what’s a privacy-loving, space-hogging, germ-fearing, comfort-zone-appreciating person to do? Read on.