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Hostels or Hotels?

June 17, 2011

In preparation for our trip, T and I discussed what we are comfortable with as far as lodging goes.  Hostels are ok, but only a private bedroom.  (A shared bathroom is ok, but obviously not preferred.)   Personally, I might be fine with a dorm bed, but the price difference would have to be significant.  The hostel also has to be generally nice & clean.

For example, this would not be fine:

Story time!   I stayed in the hostel pictured above once.  In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best decision, but we were arriving at about 2 or 3 a.m. and departing for Tioman around 8 a.m. – cost was the only decision factor I used.  I was relying on my SE Asia on a Shoestring book, and the price was almost literally the cost of a shoestring – less than $5!    So maybe it was an ok choice.  However, I had several friends with me, most of who were more high maintenance then me, and I felt sincerely bad I brought them there.  But if you come along on a vacation planned in it’s entirety by me (and one other frugal friend), you are at the mercy of my choices, good or bad!  (And they never traveled with me again… just kidding!)

Anyway, that wouldn’t be ok these days. But a normal hostel?  Fine.  (BTW, several hostels sites mentioned lockers for those who needed to keep anything valuable safe.)

However… I was shocked to discover that in Stockholm (and probably Oslo as well), even hostels (private rooms) cost about $60 per a person!   The dorm beds are about $40/person.  Hotels are quite expensive too, but I did manage to find a tiny room for about $125.  Not cheap, but not so much more than a hostel with a shared bathroom.

Hostel:  ~$110 night

Hotel:  $125/night

It seemed like a no-brainer to me!  Feel free to educate me on an awesome place to stay in/near the city center of Stockholm for about $100 if you know of somewhere!

Do you stay in hostels if the price is right?  What is the best place you’ve stayed?  (We stayed here our wedding night!)  The worst?  The hostel pictured above is the worst place I’ve stayed, but I actually have an extremely close competitor!

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Bonnie permalink
    June 17, 2011 5:58 am

    When I went to NYC, I stayed in a super-cheap hotel that was half a step above a hostel and was absolutely MISERABLE. Never again. You don’t want to dread going back to your room at night the way I did!

    Also, with the current bedbug epidemic, it seems to me that there might be a greater chance of the critters being in hostels these days.

    • June 17, 2011 7:09 am

      Bedbugs freak me out! They seem to be at all kinds of hotels these days!

      I’ve stayed in hostels that were nicer and cleaner than a low end hotel… but you never know. I found it worked out best when we were a group of 4. Lots of private 4 person rooms!

  2. June 17, 2011 6:12 am

    The Circus Hostel in Berlin is seriously one of the nicest places I have ever stayed at. The dorms are nice, the private rooms are great, and the apartment was awesome. I stayed one night in a private room and two nights in the apartment. I think we paid around $100/night (total) for the two of us to stay in the apartment in 2006. It even had a full kitchen for cooking! It was nicer than some hotels I’ve stayed in. Looking at current rates, it’s about $120 CDN for the apartment room now.

    Plus, we met the owner/manager randomly and he gave us free vouchers for breakfast. Score!

  3. June 17, 2011 7:29 am

    Oh yuck, call me high maintenance, but I could never sleep on a bed like that. I can practically see the bedbugs from here!

    I can’t believe hostels are so expensive now? I’ve stayed in hostels during school trips (10+ years ago) but I wouldn’t do it now.

    • June 17, 2011 7:37 am

      Agree – if I had a chance to evaluate and decide yes or no… i would have said no and looked for somewhere better. But in the moment we had no other option. I didn’t see bedbugs, but this was several years ago. I think bedbugs have gotten much worse!

      Hostels in scandanavia are ridiculous. I don’t know about the rest of the world, probably not so bad?

  4. Bonnie permalink
    June 17, 2011 7:47 am

    One more thing: the last time I was in Europe my friend and I stayed in B&Bs. The prices were very reasonable and the rooms and experiences were great. So you might want to look into that.

  5. June 17, 2011 7:59 am

    I’ve definitely stayed in hostels, even ones like the first photo. Like you, I’ve stayed in hostels that cost less than $5 per night, but my rooms have all been very clean and tidy.

    I think hostels better reflect the breadth of standard of living available in a country. In poorer areas like North Africa and South East Asia you’ll find many more options at the lower end than you would in Sweden or Norway. There are far more people in these areas living in what we would consider impoverished conditions than there are in Western Europe. Similarly, since the average standard of living in Sweden and Norway is quite high the hostels will be of higher prices and luxury.

  6. June 17, 2011 8:35 am

    We are planning a trip to Paris and Venice (both in the expensive part of Europe). And left to me I would rather stay in a cheap place, because I am not going to be in the room for most of the day. I think I could have have stayed at the picture you’ve put up, for the right price and if I was sure there were no bed bugs.

  7. June 21, 2011 11:03 am

    I stayed at youth hostels throughout Italy and France, and most were very nice, especially the one in Verona and Cortona, if I remember correctly. The Milan and Paris ones had tons of backpackers but were clean. I think the quality of hostels definitely correlates with that country’s standard of living as well as numbers of people.

    As for bed bugs, infestations do NOT correlate to the hotel’s star ratings because the bugs are not attracted by dirt/filth like cockroaches. I read once that there were infestations at fancy New York hotels. I think the problem is that once they get in through 1 traveler, they’re hard to exterminate.

    • June 22, 2011 8:17 pm

      Yes, exactly. There is no way to be totally safe from bedbugs. SCARY.

  8. July 19, 2011 5:24 pm

    I have a friend who backpacks extensively all over the world. His take? Hostels aren’t great for couples because people know you have more money than a single person and are more likely to be careless about leaving money/belonging out to be stolens. Hostels do have a lot of thefts. When I travelled when I was younger and broke I always camped or did priceline.

    • July 20, 2011 7:30 am

      That’s an interesting point. some (not all) have lockers for belongings. I think they all should implement them.

      T is very careful with his belongings, and he watches over me and makes sure I am too. We used various hotel booking websites and ended up in places that were on par in price to hostels. Sometimes we had to give up a little in location.

  9. The Good Villager permalink
    April 26, 2012 2:48 pm

    If that’s your worst, then you’re lucky 🙂 There are some places out there that should be ashamed to charge anything at all let alone what they actually charge.


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