Our hostel stays these past couple of weeks in Scotland and England remind me of the stays in hostels during our Latin America vacation in 2011. Hostelling is all about The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
1. We chose hostels for our city stays because they are economical. There is often a breakfast served, although not always.
2. The communal kitchen gives individuals or groups the dining option of shopping for specific items and preparing them as they so choose.
3. Hostels are places to meet interesting people. Guests in hotels are less inclined to interact.
4. They do the laundry – linens, towels, etc. Personal laundry service is often available onsite or nearby for a fee.
1. We are old compared to the typical hostel guest. In fact, some hostels do not even want guests past a certain age. We typically do not stay awake long enough to socialize like young people. Thus, we older people find it can get noisy at night.
2. Sleeping is typically dormitory style, and when the party crowd does come to bed, it is often with stumbling in the dark or throwing on the lights. I could say something about snoring but I am occasionally an offender myself. My wife usually pokes me if my snoring is a disturbance.
3. You have no control over who your roommates will be. The typical hostel guest is like the typical traveler. They are generally honest and considerate. Since there are exceptions, we take advantage of lockers provided for securing valuables. I am happy to say we have not experienced missing items during our hostel stays.
4. Shower space is limited. Hostels must strive to keep up with the impact of large numbers. The highest rated hostels are those that are most vigilant at cleaning and maintaining soap and paper supplies.
1. The level of personal hygiene is not equal for all people. In common areas body odor may be a concern.
2. Another hygiene issue is the way people clean kitchenware. Often, the house does not change out washcloths and sponges. We have learned to pack our own.
3. It is disgusting when people pick their noses in public, especially when they handle plates, cups and silverware without first washing their hands. We have learned to wash ‘clean dishes’ before using them.
Hostels are great for the backpacking travelers of which there are a lot in Europe. This seems to be the preferred style of travel for young people because they typically do not have much money. I respect their answering the call of the open road at their age. I sometimes wish I had been more of a traveler when I was their age.
After the current week we will have spent three out of four weeks in hostels. We are on a budget, and hostels simply make better economic sense. In this sense the positives outweigh the negatives. I also think we may be slightly abusing the hostel system. Ideally, one would not spend an entire week at a hostel. Getting in and getting out is the ideal way to go. Hostels are best when used as respites from the road, not destinations in and of themselves. It is with that in mind that we look forward to the comfort of having a place of our own soon.