Top-10 List: Our Most Memorable Hostel Experiences
[ more Top-10 Lists ]
This list is our own personal top ten based on what we have seen and experienced in our travels. We stayed in a lot of hostels, and by the end of our year away we remember these experiences for both good and bad reasons.
When you share a room with a different group of people every night for year, you soon discover that one in four people snore, and it is not just the guys. Only once we came across a guy who apologised beforehand and even asked to be woken up if he was snoring too loudly. The loudest snorer award goes to a nameless guy in Istanbul.
2. Double Beds
The biggest setback for a couple travelling on a budget and staying in dorms is that you never get to share a bed. At a hostel in San Diego we came across the rare instance of a doom room with double beds for couples.
The hostel we stayed at in Rome was pretty casual and a fun place they said, but we did not enjoy the group who stayed up until 4am talking in our room.
4. Free Breakfast
On a positive note, you can’t go past a free breakfast at a hostel. The best we came across was the all you can eat buffet breakfast at a hostel in Ljubljana Slovenia. It was not the usual pancakes or pastries that we normally came across in tourist hostels. This was a breakfast for locals – there was plenty of cold meats, grainy bread, sausages, cheeses and a few things we could not work out.
5. Noises in the Night
A simple thing such as putting some oil on a squeaky door can make a big difference to your sleep and therefore enjoyment of a place. In the hostel we stayed at in Barcelona, throughout the night there seemed to be always someone coming home late, going to the toilet or getting up early.
The Green Tortoise hostel in San Francisco has obviously been around for a long time. We went on a pub crawl that they organised and got to visit a part of the city we would not have normally seen. A month or two later they even sent us photos from the night and the contact details of all the new friends we had made during the evening.
7. Sharing Stories
We met Sam, an Italian cabaret singer, in a hostel in Venice. He had a lot of stories to tell, but his most memorable was the story about how a female dorm roommate had brought a guy back to her bed while Sam was in the room. In a long and descriptive monologue he gave us more detail than we wanted to hear about what subsequently went on.
One of the biggest concerns about staying in shared dorms is the safety of your belongings. It is great when a hostel supplies you with a safety deposit box for your valuables. When we went to leave our hostel in Rome, our passports and other travel documents were very safe because they could not locate the safe key. When the reception worker rang and woke the owner to ask where it is, he was not too happy.
9. Free Meals
A free breakfast is somewhat common on the hostel circuit, but an evening meal is a real bonus. Our hostel in San Francisco had obviously been doing it for along time, as they put on food for hundreds of hungry travellers a few times a week, with a production line producing great tasting veggie food.
We came across a few guys who had been hanging around the Venice Beach (USA) hostel for too long and liked to break not only the hostel but the Californian law of no smoking in public buildings. Not only did the room stink, but they they stayed up late in the room smoking and talking.