What is a Hostel?
The Act of Hosteling
Hosteling is the practice of staying in hostels while traveling. Since renting a hotel or some type of accommodation can take a huge chunk out of a traveler’s budget, hostels are a great way to help stretch your travel dollars while on the road.
The Hostel is a Community
Each hostel has its own personality but what all of them have in common is a real sense of community with plenty of opportunities to meet other travelers with similar interest. The staff supports its patrons by offering great amenities (and meals), tips on the best places to eat and recommendations on things to do around town.
My Hostel Experience
Where did I go to book a stay at a hostel? Expedia (more about that later). And with a big assistance from TripAdvisor, I settled on the Green Tortoise Hostel San Francisco.
With all of the many amenities that was advertised, it sounded better than some hotels I’ve stayed in. Lots of free stuff such as:
- breakfast everyday
- dinner 3 times a week
- free wifi (everywhere – even in the rooms)
- plenty of plugs to charge up the phone (ultra-important)
- Laundry Room
- coffee and tea (24 hours)
- dry sauna
Cost for a shared room: $50 + $20 refundable key deposit
One of my roommates, a nice young woman from Beijing was worried that I wouldn’t be able to sleep with the coming and goings of people checking in and out (there was one empty bunk above me and another one above her). But I assured her I could sleep through a category 5 hurricane with no problem. So I wasn’t too surprised when upon waking the next morning, two more roommates had joined us. Yeah, didn’t hear them come in.
Hostel Booking Tips for Boomers
Research, research and research some more – Not all hostels are created equal. Some are more sedate, others are more like Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. Somewhere in between is the perfect hostel for you.
You can book some hostels through Expedia but a good place to start is Hostel Worldwide. What I love about Hostel World is that it’s a booking site and a sort of TripAdvisor/blog for hosteling. It’s also perfect in letting you know the vibe of the hostel (i.e., party central or laid back atmosphere). Each hostel is rated, includes reviews and a list of amenities.
Hostels have many rooming options if you are uncomfortable with the dormitory-style. Private rooms cost more and depending on the hostel can cost as much as a room at your neighborhood Marriott or Hilton. Be sure to research the details of the room, if you are leaning towards a private room at a hostel.
- You also want to research the surrounding neighborhood. Where can I grab a bite to eat? What is the transportation like? Do the buses stop running at a certain time? Can I get Uber or Lyft if I plan on going out at night?
When you go out do you need to be back inside before dark before the neighborhood crazies come out? These are some of the things you want to be aware of when looking for the perfect hostel.