Choose the Hostel Best for You
What Type of Hostel Is Best for You?
Three Hostel Types
Want to have a full night’s sleep? Or, hate rules and curfews? There is a hostel right for you.
And, in North America, that increasingly includes older guests, who do not want to face high hotel prices in places like New York City and San Francisco.
These days many hostels are offering private rooms at rates significantly cheaper than hotels—great for couples and for travellers who sleep better that way.
Three types of hostels:
American and Canadian hostels tend to come in three types or a combination of these. When you do your research, you will end up at the one best for you. Read those hostel reviews prior to booking.
1. Traditional hostels:
These offer a great place to meet people—with social areas, group activities and such—but not a pub that revs up the excitement into the night or loud nightlife next door.
The best of these offer a family feeling—the type of good feeling that you will find when visiting a group of friends who share a house.
You will usually find
- comfortable areas for socializing,
- a communal kitchen, and
- organized group activities, such as kayaking or seeing a film, with high participation.
At a very few—the ones I call communal hostels—you may be expected to contribute to the chores.
Glenwood Springs Hostel near Aspen Colorado and Ocean Island Inn in Victoria British Columbia are typical traditional hostels that strive to please.
2. Party hostels:
With few rules and never a curfew, these offer their fun-oriented and often hard drinking clientele a refuge from other hostel types.
Guests are often fiercely loyal returning again and again for the good times. (You certainly will not if you dislike noise.) These places may sometimes feature rather poor maintenance, but sponsor loads of group activities.
USA Hostels Ocean Beach in San Diego offers a fine example of a well-run party hostel in a great location that provides a fun environment for its guests. Others include the downtown and uptown Flying Pig hostels in Amsterdam and Wake Up! in Sydney.
Coming in as a combination, the nearly block long and fantastic India House Hostel in New Orleans has its outdoor bar, pool, and other social areas at one end and peace and quiet at the other.
3. Hotel-like hostels:
These may be exceptionally well run, priced right, and otherwise okay for you, but have little personality. Most are not set up to encourage social interaction, but that may not matter to you.
As an example, the University of British Columbia in Vancouver runs Pacific Spirit Hostel from May into early August using residence halls that otherwise would be empty in a great location.
That provides you hostel-style rates for single rooms.
Although very clean with a friendly and helpful staff, you will find no group activities at Pacific Spirit and in my experience a rather sterile lobby that tends not to be a place to meet new friends.
Pacific Spirit Hostel Vancouver Pros & Cons
Look for certain features:
Above: Make sure the urban hostel you choose is in a busy and well lighted area at night. That will help keep you safe.
- Free Internet (and reviews that say it works well),
- Friendly and helpful staff,
- Adequate washroom facilities,
- Secure lockers,
- Decent breakfast included, if possible,
- Kitchen, if you want to use one,
- Stays open for you throughout the day (some do not),
- No enforced check outs too early in the morning, and
- Good location.
I cannot emphasize enough location.
A good location not only means convenient to what you want to do, but also a reasonably safe one.
Use the street view option of Google Maps on desktop computers to view streets in the area. You want to see restaurants, clubs, pubs, and other signs that lots of people will be on these streets after dark especially between the bus and metro stops you are likely to use and your hostel.
Pay extra, if necessary, to be safer in an urban area.
Pick the right hostel environment for you and enjoy your trip!
1. Hollywood hostels: pros and cons
2. L.A. Beach hostels: pros and cons
3. Vancouver hostels: best locations
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