When I booked my first hostel, I had NO idea what to expect. I’d seen horror stories online and had no idea what I’d let myself in for – when I got there though, not only was the hostel amazing but I met some incredible people there. If you aren’t sure whether hostels are for you, here’s my verdict on some of the most common hostel myths…
(Note: this is based purely on my experiences in European hostels)
Myth 1: Hostels are dirty
95% of the hostels I’ve stayed in have rivalled hotels in the cleanliness stakes – and, in fact, some have even been cleaner. There are a few that may have some… issues, shall we say, but these are certainly in the minority (ah the memory of walking into a hostel in Budapest and noticing the wall covered in squashed mosquitoes…). With all of the review sites nowadays and a number of hostels springing up all looking for custom, they can’t afford to be lax with a mop – some employ cleaners who work really hard, and often the people working at hostels have to take on cleaning duties in return for free accommodation so they definitely want the place looking good!
Myth 2: People have sex in hostel dorms
One of my work colleagues asked me this, and the others all gathered around in fascination to hear if it ever actually happens. The answer? Yes, it does. Luckily the only time people have gotten their freak on in my dorm was when I was asleep, and the guy I shared within Sofia kindly went into the bathroom with his new friend (thank you, kind sir). I have heard some horror stories about the central table in a dorm being used for X-Rated activities shall we say, but when you have a bunch of young people in a foreign country that has just been on a bar crawl, shit does indeed happen.
Myth 3: My stuff will get stolen
When I booked my first hostel I had no idea whether I should carry my passport around, as I didn’t know if the hostel was safe. I don’t want to say that there is absolutely zero chance of anything ever being nicked as, let’s be honest, there are some wrong’uns around, but if you use the lockers or safes that pretty much every hostel has, you should be OK. Heck, when I got to my dorm in Florence, there was an Apple Mac lying on the bed next to mine – I never once saw the owner (although every time I went in there seemed to be more of his clothes encroaching into my area) but the Mac was still there at the end of my stay.
I would definitely trust a hostel locker more than cities where pickpockets are doing their thing, especially as I had my purse stolen out of my bag at a bar on a recent trip – luckily my spare bank card was sitting pretty in my case back at the hostel. Just always take a padlock with you!
Hostel myth 4: Hostels are full of weirdos and hippies
Well, I’ll give you that one. There are always going to be people you don’t click with (I’m talking about you, whiney-hike girl and you, snorey Colombian dude) and, yes, some hippies. When you’re sharing a dorm you have to talk to people you wouldn’t normally meet, which is a fantastic way to be inspired and find out more about other cultures. You may have travelled through Laos on your gap-yah, darling, but if you go into a hostel with a stuck up attitude and are unwilling to talk to anyone a bit different to yourself, you’re not as cultured as you think you are – and, quite frankly, you’re missing out. So next time you’re at a hostel, go up to that guy called Dandelion who has a fondness for linen trousers and have a chat…
Verdict: Fact (good!)
Hostel myth 5: I won’t get any sleep
Um… this depends. Did you book a bed in a 36-bed dorm without earplugs? Yeah, you’re not gonna be sleeping tonight. You end up in an 8-bed dorm where everyone is considerate? You’ll be fine. Unfortunately, sometimes you will be in the same dorm as a snorer that can wake you up even if you’ve got the trusty earplugs in, and sometimes the hostel will decide you all need to be blasted with 40° heating for no apparent reason which will keep you up. We all hope we are with respectful people who can shut doors without slamming them (it appears some people struggle with this more than others) but I’ll be honest, it doesn’t always happen. It’s the luck of the draw, and if you’re a heavy sleeper you’re far less likely to have a problem.
So there you go, that’s my verdict on five of the most common hostel myths. Do you agree? Let me know in the comments!
Lorna is an avid hostel stayer and tries to balance her love of adventures with her full-time charity job. She blogs about travel and life as a twentysomething at www.thedaychaser.com