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How To Hostel When You’re Past “That Stage”

hostel life

Hostel life. Photo courtesy of Peter Gene.

Hostels have a reputation for attracting budget backpackers on gap year looking to have one last hoorah before heading into “the real world.” While I’d argue each hostel has its own unique personality, I understand what my late 20s-30s friends mean when they say they feel too old for the hostel scene.

There are many party hostels out there and properties with a more cliquey clientele that I enjoyed at the age of 21 that I wouldn’t love as much at the age of 27. While at one time my main focuses on the road were extreme budget travel and having wild nights I most likely wouldn’t remember, today I’m more of a moderate-budget-I need-my-space-and-privacy kind of traveler. That being said, I still love hostels and make use of them when on the road. Even for older travelers, couples and backpackers wanting some peace hostels can be a viable option. Here’s how:

bed jump

Jump on the bed — or anything else you feel like — in a private hostel room. Photo courtesy of Gregory Tonon.

1. Private Rooms

While at one time dorms were the standard, today it’s very common to find hostels offering private single and double rooms. Sure, you’ll pay a little more for a private room than a dorm; however, you’ll most likely still spend less than you would on a hotel or apartment rental. The great thing about booking a private hostel room is you’ll have your privacy and won’t have to worry about dormmates rifling through your belongings while still enjoying the budget and social benefits of hostelling.

2. Analyze Offerings

HostelBookers is great for laying out exactly what’s available, what’s included in the price and what’s a purchasable extra for each hostel. Look carefully at these offerings when making a decision on where to book. For example, while having an onsite bar and club venue may sound convenient, there’s a good chance the property will attract a more rambunctious clientele. Peruse property listings and look for amenities and offerings you would want to take advantage of yourself, like a garden, game room, book exchange or communal kitchen. Also make sure to read reviews, as seeing what previous guests had to say about the atmosphere of a hostel can be a good indicator of what to expect.

Seven Hostel

Seven Hostel, one of the world’s most luxurious hostels. Photo courtesy of Seven Hostel.

3. Luxury Hostels

As stated above, not all hostels are alike, as each has its own unique personality. In fact, there are a number of hostels that could be considered luxurious, even by travelers who don’t typically use this type of accommodation. For example, Seven Hostel in Sorrento, Italy, offers trendy decor, a rooftop terrace with plush white couches and Gulf of Naples views, satellite television, an al fresco solarium and a concierge for travel bookings. There’s also The Green Saman in Cali, Colombia, featuring a spa, yoga center, swimming pool, sauna, dance and cooking classes, upscale meals, language courses, a healthy restaurant and more. While properties like these offer opulent settings and amenities, they’re still budget friendly and allow for socializing and a more laid-back atmosphere.

4. Do Half-And-Half

Unless you’re rich, it’s almost impossible to travel long-term and just stay in hotels. If you’re really not into the hostel thing, think about compromising and doing half-and-half. Split you’re time between budget hostels and budget hotels, and if you’re up for it, throw in a bit of CouchSurfing — a service that allows you to stay on local’s couches for free — to balance your spending.

peaceful hostel

Not all hostels are alike in personality. Photo courtesy of obscure allusion.

5. Opt For Peace Over Party

There are many hostels that have more of an earthy vibe where things feel calmer and more relaxed. Look for hostels with gardens, yoga, meditation, farm-to-fork dining, outdoor lounge areas, mountain views, countryside settings and other offerings that attract peace and quiet. You’ll barely notice you’re in a hostel.

For travelers who feel “over” the party hostel thing, how do you choose properties that fit your needs? Any tips for finding accommodation on a budget? Please share in the comments below.

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15 Comments

  1. simon on May 30, 2014 at 3:09 am

    I’m over staying in hostels, for the most part. I do think that there’s nothing wrong with getting a private room at one – it’s often affordable and social, but you can still get a decent night’s sleep without people waking you up at all hours!

    • jess2716 on May 30, 2014 at 10:09 am

      @Simon: Very true! This is usually how I travel 🙂

  2. Eileen on June 2, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    The last time I was in a hostel I think I was 25 and even then I felt like I was pushing it! But the ones here in Boston, for instance, seem to be really inclusive for all types of travelers. Many families pick hostels here because hotels can be so sky high in prices. I do like the built-in friends though that come with hostle staying, even if they are a bit younger than me 😉

    • jess2716 on June 2, 2014 at 8:32 pm

      @Eileen: That’s great to hear families are utilizing hostels, too. I’ve definitely seen an increase in the number of private rooms available, too. I’ve definitely gotten to a point where I need my “space” when I travel ha.

  3. Lucas on June 5, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    I’ve never had the rambunctious hostel experience. One way to avoid it (at least how I’ve avoided it) is to travel in the off-season and to travel to places that aren’t a party-paradise. Recently I stayed at 3 hostels in Lofoten and Trondheim, Norway that were positively serene. I had booked one of them via HI as a dorm and since I was the only guest, the proprietor put me up in a seaside cottage overlooking a fjord for the same low price (by Norwegian standards).
    For a week in Rome during January I discovered some B&B’s that were the same price as a single room in a hostel so I stayed there instead.

    The off-season definitely has it’s merits for a budget-conscious traveler.

    • jess2716 on June 6, 2014 at 12:48 am

      @Lucas: Great tip. Thank you for sharing! Traveling off-season definitely has a lot of perks. There are many discounts, too!

      • Charlie on June 15, 2014 at 12:21 pm

        I’ve actually become less fond of hostels because of Couchsurfing… I feel like hostelling is second best to staying with a local, and often – in aesthetic and comfort – a room with a local is better too and really lovely hosts have shared their breakfast with us too. Not to mention the obvious of the local experience, really getting to know someone, and staying someone a little more off the path.

        We do still stay in hostels when we have to though… I’ve not been to one offering yoga and the like, that sounds awesome. I’ve actually only ever been to one I really liked – Chinese Box Hostel in Beijing, they had dumpling making classes etc. Was lovely.

        Great post, by the way 🙂

        • jess2716 on August 21, 2014 at 2:40 am

          @Charlie: Agreed. I’m a big fan of CouchSurfing, even if you just use it for the forums to meetup with locals. Possibly the best backpacker invention yet!

          Also…dumpling making classes in a hostel?! That sounds like it’s worth the trip in itself 🙂

  4. Priyam Patel on April 24, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    Hello Jessie, Nice post on hustling tips. I my opinion hosteling adds a big portion of growth in our lives in many ways. Hosteling develops you emotionally, mentally, physically and psychologically and at the same emotionally independent. So in my opinion hosteling helps to provide an overall growth in our lives.

    • Jessie Festa on April 29, 2015 at 1:43 pm

      @Priyam: I also love hostelling very much, even as I get older!

  5. Dan Vineberg on March 13, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Great article, and definitely very relatable. One place I have to disagree is about booking a private room. I’m 25 and I still dig the dorm rooms. I’m stayed at plenty of hostels and never, ever have I had to worry about someone else going through my stuff. Security lockers take care of valuables, and no one wants my stinky socks anyway!

    Nice article about my favourite type of accomodation. Keep it up, I’ll be looking out for your posts in the future!

    • Jessie Festa on March 17, 2016 at 2:10 pm

      @Dan: Agree that dorms can be doable. I still use them from time to time. My thing is as I get older I NEED a good night’s sleep. I often find in dorms there’s SOMEONE who comes in at 2am, turns the light on and starts loudly shuffling about! ha.

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