Hostels provide cheap accommodation, and are a great way for young people to travel through Europe on a tight budget. If you are new to staying at hostels, then here is a brief guide to what you can expect to find.
It is important to realise that hostels are not simply cheap hotels. They have an entirely different ethos and the experience of staying at one is very different. Hostels are not for everyone, but if you are an open, fun loving and friendly person, then you have nothing to fear from them.
The reason hostels are cheap is that they supply access to a dormitory rather than a personal room. You will share the dormitory with other travellers and most hostels have bunk beds. However although you may be a little worried at first about privacy, remember that this is a great way of meeting people and making friends. While many dormitories are unisex, there are also women only dormitories, so check in advance it that is important to you. Bathrooms are also shared.
There is a large variety of different kinds of hostels: some of them may be themed, some will have excellent facilities, and some will be quite spartan. There are hostels with large numbers of rooms, maybe hundreds, and others that are more like a large house. Some are very commercial, and some are funky and laid back; most are a mix of the two.
There is always a reception area, and some are staffed 24 hours a day. Most good hostels have an equipped kitchen and eating area. Nowadays most hostels have free Wi-Fi that you can connect to via your smartphone or tablet, and many have a computer that is free to use too. Most hostels have individual lockers with keys for each guest.
Generally you can hire things such as sheets and towels, though if you supply your own you will save some money; possibly two or three Euros a night. But then you will need to carry them with you and launder them at least occasionally.
It is important to remember that hostels are very different from hotels; they are a great alternative for the young traveller and a great place to meet like minded people. They are very friendly places, so to make the best of them you need to be friendly too. Whether you are travelling by train or using coach travel to get round Europe, then staying at hostels is certainly the best solution for making the best of your trip. Many hop on hop off bus travel services have information on individual hostels that are on their routes, so check them out.
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This is a guest post by Claire Chat a new Londoner, travel passionate and animal lover. She blogs about Pets and Travelling in Europe. If you want Claire to write you specific content, you can find email her here or contact her on Twitter (Claire_Chat).