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Hostels vs. Hotels: Which Is Right for You?

SmarterTravel

What are the biggest differences between hostels and hotels? Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than taking away that “s.” There are a few important differences between hostels and hotels to consider when planning your trip—this guide will help you pinpoint key concerns and help you decide which option is best for you.

Hostels vs. Hotels

Here are five factors to consider when deciding what kind of lodging is right for your next trip.

Privacy

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One of the major differences between hostels and hotels is shared rooms. If you don’t mind roommates, then a hostel won’t be a problem for you. But if you don’t want to share a bathroom with five strangers—or more—then a hostel might not be for you. Before you write off the hostel option due to privacy concerns, however, check for hostels that offer private rooms and bathrooms.

At hotels, private rooms—and private bathrooms except in rare cases—are the standard. If privacy is an important part of your trip, a hotel will be a better choice for you.

But rooming with strangers isn’t all bad—after all, your roommates are travelers just like you. They may have helpful tips or entertaining stories to share. If your goal is to meet new people, a hostel will make a great home base.

Security

Sharing a room with strangers does, of course, come with risks. Some hostels provide safety measures like a lockable cage that slides under your bed, but they don’t always offer locks. If you are traveling with valuables that you want to leave in your room, always pack a sturdy lock.

Most hotels, on the other hand, provide a locked private room and a safe. Some hotels also offer a front-desk safe deposit box for precious items.

Price

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On average, a room that you have to share will cost less than a private room. But there are more factors that go into pricing accommodations.

A hostel right on the beach, for instance, might be more expensive than a hotel farther inland. Don’t assume that just because it’s a hostel it’s your cheapest option. Always make sure to do your research and explore your options for your particular dates.

Amenities

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Some of the things you may take for granted in a hotel, like a telephone or hair dryer, are the kinds of things you may have trouble finding in a hostel. If amenities are important, a hotel will likely be your best bet. But while hostels may lack many in-room extras, they often do have shared amenities such as televisions and kitchens. Common areas with shared amenities create a social environment that’s at the heart of the hostel experience.

Location

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One of the largest differences between hostels and hotels is accessibility. Hostels are abundant in most major cities, particularly throughout Europe, but are less common in smaller towns and off-the-beaten-path locations. However, sites like Hostelworld and Hostels.com make it easier than ever to do a quick check to find out if there’s an affordable and appealing hostel option in your destination.

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Matt Buckley is a writer based out of Boston. Check out some of his personal travel experiences on his travel blog Matt Goes Exploring and follow his Instagram of the same name.

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