The first youth hostel opened in Germany in 1912. Since then, hostelling and travel have changed. Still, a hostel offers budget accommodation in dormitories and today many have private rooms.
While up until 11 years ago most hostels were operated or affiliated with the YHA organization, budget airlines have changed the hostel world in such a way that you can find private hostels and backpackers in most major cities and tourist locations. For example, in 2000 Barcelona had one private hostel, the Kabul, and 4 YHAs. Nowadays you can find up to 80 or 90 hostels on all booking websites.
But with the growing number of hostels everywhere, the competition between them sometimes diminishes their quality. And many places open to fill their owner’s wallet. Often when you arrive at a hostel and approach the reception you can already sense if the place is being run by heart or for money.
Easy backpacking knows how tough the hostel business is. Every place has to be furnished, the bills have to be paid and employees work for a reason.
On the other hand, travelers are paying guests. They may not pay 150€ to stay in a 4 star hotel, but they pay.
Some hostels tend to advertise facilities on their websites to make their place look more interesting, or sometimes even take backpackers to make reservations for more nights.
The following stories are written to give you an idea of what hostels do and write. They are all true and they can get you to look at your accommodation as a paying guest. Because you are, you worked for your money.
A hostel places its beds on all booking websites with the location mapped out in the city you want to visit. The traveler has made a reservation and arrives at the city’s train station, gets a map from the tourist information point and finds out that he has to take the train or bus back to get to the hostel, which is actually in a city 40 minutes away. Not only does the traveler waste time and money to get there, he also has to travel back and forth throughout his stay. More expenses to pay and a waste of time.
Always check the location when it comes to hostels in major cities, especially Prague, Barcelona, Paris etc. Paying more for local transport adds up to the budget.
A hostel offers a dorm bed for €18 per night, all other hotels checked out on the internet in the same city will charge €24-26. What they didn’t talk about on any website, internet is 5€ per hour, breakfast 3.50€ extra, use of the kitchen 1€ and, and, and. So the 18 € of sleep comes to 28 €. The other places were all included.
A hostel offers a kitchen with all facilities on their website. The traveler reserves 5 nights, thinking he would save money by shopping and cooking his dinner in the kitchen. After checking in, he discovers that the kitchen only has one microwave and a toaster, that’s all. Forced to eat out or just live on sandwiches for the next 5 days, the hostel has a great deal for him, eating at the restaurant owned by the same management. What a scam!
The traveler checks in and pays for a 4-bed dorm. Actually the room has 5 beds, but only 4 people sleep in it, so no problem. He goes out for dinner and returns at midnight, only to find that not only is the fifth bed occupied, but the hostel has placed a sixth in the dorm. A 4-bed dorm costs €28, a 6-bed dorm just €24. It’s €4 that the traveler is entitled to a refund.
The hostel has a nice outdoor area to sit and relax. This includes a small bar serving beer and food. The hostel also has a nice kitchen where guests can prepare their own meals. Now you would think it would be lovely to take your hot meal outside and eat it. No! The hostel has signs everywhere that say “No eating and drinking outside in the whole hostel!” So one sits alone in the kitchen and eats. And the hostel makes more money by selling beer for 5€ to travelers.
Important rule if you want to stay in a hostel! View the whole package! The night may be cheap, but everything else is expensive. When you make a reservation at a hostel, why not write them an email and ask what services you have to pay for.
Florence, for example, has many private hostels. Dorms are available from around €18, depending on the season. Included is free breakfast (you can choose from toast or cereal to ham and eggs or omelette. Also included is free internet, wifi, a walking tour in Florence and very cheap dinner deals at the hostel. A newly opened hostel charges 26€ for the same kind of room , €3 for breakfast, €5 per hour internet It’s true, it offers a gym, sauna and swimming pool, but if you’re carrying your backpack with you for months, a step machine is the last thing you need, and in good weather is 38 Celsius and 90% humidity, a sauna is the last thing you want. That leaves the pool, if it were outside and clean.