Staying in a hostel is a lot like going on a date: you either leave wanting to tell your friends how amazing it was, or you rush out screaming, wanting to immediately forget the ordeal but instead every disgusting and cringey detail is permanently engraved in your mind.
This week I moved out of a hostel after staying there for ten days and, oh man, let me just say that it was a wild time.
WHAT ARE HOSTELS?
When I say that hostels are everywhere in Europe, I mean that they show up almost as frequently as a Starbucks. Unlike the overpriced Starbucks chains, Hostels are budget-friendly accommodations meant for backpackers and travellers who don’t have much money to splurge on hotels, aka me.
PROS AND CONS OF HOSTELS
PRO – INEXPENSIVE AND MADE MY BANK ACCOUNT HAPPY
The hostel that I stayed at had a lot of nice features, like free all-you-can-eat breakfasts. This was actually the whole reason I booked my hostel, and I was almost more excited for the free breakfast than the fact that I got to explore Copenhagen.
I know my way around buffets. I carefully planned my days so that I would eat twenty minutes before the buffet closed, and I would pile on as much food as my plate and bowl would allow. I would be so stuffed with carbs and granola and oranges and yogurt and cereal and eggs and sausages that I wouldn’t get hungry until supper time.
CON – IT’S LIKE A SLEEPOVER WITH PEOPLE YOU DIDN’T INVITE/DON’T KNOW
I shared a room with nine other people, which I willingly chose because it was the cheapest option. On my first and second night, I was asleep by 9:30 because I was so jetlagged, only to be RUDELY woken up at midnight by the group of Spanish girls who came home drunk and giggly– not to mention one of them stepped on my ankle as she fumbled up the bunk bed ladder. They moved out on the third night. On the fourth and fifth night, someone was snoring so loud that the walls shook and the beds swayed. He moved out the next day, only to be replaced by TWO snorers.
PRO – LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
There were two pokestops in the reception area. It was also centrally located downtown, within minutes of the metro and shopping streets, and right where the main tourist spots were, which meant that I got to sleep in and still feel like I got to see a lot of things.
CON – LACK OF PRIVACY
About halfway through my stay, I got tired of waking up early and touring the city, so I thought I would get in touch with the Danish culture through their Netflix selection. I spent the entire day in my bed perusing their movies and tv shows (most of which were American productions, and yet I still like the Danish Netflix over the Canadian one). And then the most uncomfortable moment of my life happened. There I was, minding my own business and watching Modern Family, when all of a sudden a couple who were staying on the beds opposite mine came in and started making out, unaware of my presence, and fully aware of where their hands were going. If you ever find yourself in this situation, I can guarantee that a simple “Hi, how are you?” can quickly and effectively kill their mood.
PRO – MEETING PEOPLE
My parents always told me not to talk to strangers, but travelling alone can be lonely so I started talking to anyone who would sit beside me. I met a fashion designer, an Italian guy who one day woke up and just decided to move to Copenhagen, a group of Canadians – one grew up a few minutes away from me, and another one even cooked me dinner – and a couple of other students in Denmark on exchange. Moral of the story: Don’t listen to your parents, kids. Strangers are cool.
CON – SHARED BATHROOMS
I shared four bathrooms with every single person on my floor, and they were only cleaned once a day. I have an irrational fear of public washrooms (I am convinced I’m going to be murdered in one), so this was not a fun time for me. Waiting your turn to use the washroom after you’ve drank over a liter of water and held it for the last ten blocks is bad, but being the twentieth person to use it is quite possibly the worst. PRO TIP: Find out when they clean the showers and use it immediately after.
Despite the good and bad experiences, hostels will always be my top choice of accommodation. Even if I win the lottery, I would opt for a four-bedroom shared dorm instead of a hotel.
Really research the hostel that you are looking into. Read the reviews of previous guests. Don’t book anything with less than an 85% approval rating. Don’t get murdered in the washrooms.