Hostel vs. Hotel

 What’s the difference between a hostel and a  hotel?

This is a question that I seem to be asked a lot. I also attribute this question to the fact that hostels aren’t nearly as popular in the United States as they are in other parts of the world. I also think due to the movie Hostel, people automatically associate hostels with something negative. In all of my travels, I’ve stayed in about 8 hostels which all varied greatly. I’ve stayed in some hostels which were very basic whereas others were more plush. Hostels are constantly changing to attract different types of travelers. There are hostels which cater to the backpacker whereas there are other hostels which cater to travelers t who prefer more luxurious accommodations. Here’s the low down on the basic differences and similarities between hostels and hotels. Keep in mind there are always exceptions.

Hostels

1. Cheaper
I tend to stay at hostels to save money. Normally co-ed dorm style rooms are the cheapest and private rooms are the most expensive. Prices vary from country to country. For example, in Thailand it’s possible to get a dorm style room at a hostel for $10 whereas on  a recent trip to Hong Kong, my 6 bunk room was about $25.  
Hotels: Can sometimes cost 3x or more the cost of a room at a hostel.

2. Dorm style accommodations are the norm.
Typically rooms in a hostel have bunk beds. Rooms can vary from having anywhere from 4beds to 20 beds in a room.
 Hotels: Private rooms are the rule of thumb.

3. Less privacy 
 Because you’re in a room with other people, you might not feel as free to do certain things like you would if you had your own room.
 Hotels: N/A

4. No daily housekeeping services                                                                                                                                     Normally beds aren’t made unless you make them yourself. Sometimes, floors will get swept but for the most part the cleanliness of the room is up to those in the room.
 Hotels: N/A

5. Bathrooms might be shared or private
I personally prefer private bathrooms but as long as I have shower shoes, either one is fine. They are however separated by gender. So no need to worry about that.
Hotels: Very rare you will find a hotel with a shared bathroom but I have seen some advertised.

6. More opportunities to meet other travelers                                                                                                                            One of the things that I like about hostels is you get to meet other people from all over the world. I’ve been fortunate to meet people from all over all because we stayed in the same room at a random hostel in a random country. Sometimes hostels have their own bars and lounges which make it even easier to make a new friend.
Hotels: Fewer opportunities to meet other travelers unless you’re at the hotel bar or perhaps the lobby.

7. Co-ed rooms or same sex rooms
 I tend to opt for all female rooms but like I previously mentioned co-ed rooms are generally cheaper.
Hotels:N/A

8.  TV’s are not the norm
I’ve only had a TV in my room at a hostel when I had a private room. Usually the hostel will have a separate room with a TV/DVD player for everyone to use.
 Hotels: Generally the norm

9. Towel rental fee
It is very common for a hostel to charge a towel rental fee of a couple of dollars. Usually, you’ll get the towel fee back when you check out.
 Hotels:N/A

10. Laundry facilities
It’s typical that a hostel will have laundry facilities on hand that you can use for a nominal fee. It tends to be pretty cheap like a few dollars per load. I’ve seen very few dryers so typically there’s only a couple washing machines and you have to dry your clothes outside.
Hotels: Varies

11. Age and/or Nationality restrictions

Sometimes hostels have an age limit of 12+ and up. It’s also common for a hostel to cater to foreigners only. I once looked at a hostel in Thailand where it stated that Thai citizens were not allowed to stay there.
Hotels: N/A

12. Breakfast included

I love when hostels have breakfast included. It’s one less meal that I have to pay for. I remember staying at a hostel in Brazil and the breakfast was amazing. Anything that you could possibly want was available from omelets to fresh fruit to pastries.

Hotels: varies


On my next post, I’ll tell you which hostels I’ve stayed in and how they measure up!

Typical Dorm Room
City Central International Hostel, Shanghai Hostel
Breakfast included is such a great perk!
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