Backpacking through Europe – or anywhere for that matter is not as expensive as you would think. One of the best ways to save money is to avoid staying at a hotel and instead, book your stay at a hostel. What is a hostel? Read more to find out.

Chances are, even if you’ve never stayed in one before, you probably know that hostels are a cheaper alternative to hotels. Read on as we answer your question – What is a hostel?

What Is A Hostel Anyways?

what is a hostel anyways

Credit: The Farm Hostel, Bali

They’re a shared form of accommodation, usually geared towards younger travelers, ages 18 to 30. But what you might not know about them is that their unique social nature can completely change the experience of your trip for the better. says “With a hostel, you pay half the price for twice the fun.” One of the coolest new hostels trending online is the Farm Hostel in Bali, pictured above.

If you’ve never stayed in a hostel before, you’re probably a little sketched out by some rumors you’ve heard or crazy stories from your friend who just returned from Thailand. We’re here to ease your mind. Not all hostels are gross. Like hotels, you just have to pick the good ones. Check reviews before you book, hostel requirements, proximity to the city, and other important details. Be thorough. Now that we’ve got your interest, here’s everything you need to know about traveling and questions about what is a hostel.

Here’s A More In-Depth Answer to the Common question, What Is A Hostel?

what is a hostel - In-Depth

Credit: Once Again Hostel, Bangkok

While no two hostels are alike, we can guarantee you one thing. They won’t be boring. So what is a hostel again? In a nutshell, a hostel is a pocket-friendly type of accommodation that is cheaper than a hotel and focuses on a shared social experience. You can choose from bunks in shared dorm style rooms, fitting up to twelve people or pay for a private room for you and your friend (those will cost you a little bit more). Some places offer a full bathroom and shower in your private unit and others are communal, so make sure you know what you’re getting before you commit and book your stay.

Who Can Stay In a Hostel?

what is a hostel

Like we mentioned earlier, most hostels are geared towards young travelers from the ages of 18-30. If you really look, there are some out there for more mature travelers too. One of the best things about staying in a hostel is you will literally meet people from all over the globe.

We’ve had the pleasure of meeting an awesome guy from an island off the coast of Madagascar who came to live in London where he worked at an internship helping displaced Palestinians. You can’t make this stuff up. You never know who you’ll meet during your stay. This adds a particular element of excitement that’s hard to get in a more ritzy hotel room.

We love this quote from the travel blogger, Amybakerwrites: “You never know who you’re going to end up sharing a beer with – I’ve met people cycling from Chile to Alaska, a dude who survived a crocodile attack, a professional touring clown, an 80 year old born again backpacker. I’ve hung out with metal bands, sports teams, politicians, and ex-soap actors. Hostelling gives you a chance to meet people you’d never encounter in your day-to-day life. It’s what makes it unique, and it’s why it’s always my top choice when I travel.”

Here's the Answer In a Nutshell

In short, the answer is that hostels are pretty much there for anyone who wants to come and stay. They aren’t made for one type of person and that’s what makes them unique. Most of the people who come and stay are on a budget, solo travelers, students, backpackers, and digital nomads. However, more and more hostels are becoming luxurious, offering plenty of amenities you just couldn’t find a decade ago. With this said, more people are falling in love with the idea of social travel.

What Types of Accommodations and Amenities Can You Find At a Hostel?

Hostel Accommodations

Credit: Once Again Hostel, Bangkok

Have you looked at pictures of hostels lately? You’ll truly be amazed. Some of them look just as nice as a hotel, if not a step above. The Once Again Hostel in Bangkok is a prime example. In terms of facilities, you can certainly find all of the amenities you want in a hotel in a hostel. It will cost you a bit more than slumming it in the dorm-style rooms, but you could still save yourself a pretty penny. Forget about the messy bunk beds crammed in with night owl college kids. Cheaper costs + more personal space = worth it.

Some amenities you can expect to find include luxurious beds, in-unit bathrooms and showers, fun events, rooftop terraces, laundry facilities, full-service kitchens, swimming pools, free WiFi, hostel bars, and amazing local travel secrets courtesy of the staff.

What Are the Good Things About Staying In a Hostel?

There are a lot of benefits to choosing a hostel as your place to stay. Read more to learn about the benefits.

It's Cheaper

To cut costs a lot of hostels forgo some of the standard amenities that non-business travelers don’t really use anyways. In some of the older hostels, you probably won’t find TVs, telephones, irons, or coffee makers. But let’s be honest. How many of us have actually used those items during your stay anyways?

You’ll Meet Really Cool New People

In addition to being cheaper, hostels encourage a social nature among guests. This makes it really easy to meet cool new people, which is particularly great if you’re a solo traveler. The common area is a really good place to chat up other locals. There’s nothing quite like bonding over a shared kitchen in a foreign country.

You’re Not Going to Have to Share A Space If You Don’t Want to

Many hostels (particularly in Asia) offer private rooms with options for your own bathroom. How you interact with other guests is entirely up to you. If you’ve had a long day and just want to relax, there’s no judgment here. Waltz away to the comforts of your room and catch up on some much-needed R&R.

The Basic Services Are Pretty Much All You’ll Need

Just like hotels, hostels also offer basic services at the front desk. Forgot your toothbrush or some extra lotion? No worries, just head over to the front counter and they will set you up. Most of the time these services are complimentary but bigger things like towels, shampoo, or extra sheets will cost you.

Second, if you’re a backpacker, you know how important it is to find a place that has laundry services. There’s nothing more annoying than lugging around your giant laundry bag looking for a laundromat and then spending a half a day watching your clothes spin round when you should be out exploring the town. Ask your hostel if they offer laundry services. We’d highly recommend booking with one that does.

Hostels Focus on Travelers

What is a hostel if not a great place to grab information on hot spots in the city? Ask the staff for their favorite recommendations and avoid grabbing handfuls of the tourist trap flyers sitting in the lobby. There’s a reason no one else has taken them.

Unlike big chain hotels, hostels are much more in-tune with the local scene. Many of the hostels in Asia were opened by former travelers who wanted to settle down and build a business without losing touch with their passion for travel. These business owners know what it’s like to be thousands of miles from home. In short, chat them up. Chances are, they know what you need.

You Might Be Able to Negotiate

Some hostels cater to backpackers who stay a week or more at a time. Before you take the easy route and book your stay online, call ahead and see if you can wiggle prices down a bit. Many owners would rather rent their rooms out to guests who stay longer and avoid having a room sit empty for a few nights. Especially during the low season in Asia, you’d be surprised at the flexibility of hostels to work with you on price.

What Is A Hostel? A Cheaper, More Fun Alternative to A Hotel

What is a hostel? An amazing, affordable place to stay. Okay, this depends on the hostel you’re staying at. But if you’re like most people looking to save some money, broaden your horizons and overall have a good time, hostels are probably the choice for you. Take a look and see what you’re looking for in a place to stay before you go. Do some searching. You just might find a place you love and make some new lifelong friends.

What are you waiting for? Save some money and use it for activities! has some great choices for youth hostels if you want to take a look.

Do you have any tips on budget-friendly accommodations for us? We would love to hear any questions or comments you have for us in the comment section below.

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