Hostelling series: what makes a hostel

hostellingseries

What makes a hostel a great hostel? What do backpackers like in a hostel? These are things I sometimes think about. What I like in a hostel has changed over the years. Not only have I gotten older but I’ve also gotten a better idea of what makes me feel comfortable in a place. In this post I’ll write about ten things I think makes a hostel and what I like as a backpacker.

1. Cleanliness
A hostel has to be clean. Period. There’s nothing worse than having a dirty place to stay at.

2. Good facilities
Comfortable beds are an absolute necessity! A mattress has to be good and not so thin that your hip rests on the bed frame. A good pillow is also very important. Who needs of those old lumpy ones? A comfortable duvet is also very nice! Showers have to work, they have to have adjustable temperatures and good water pressure. I’ve experienced showers that weren’t more than a drizzle and that’s terrible! Showers also need a place to put your clothes and a place where you can change comfortably. Kitchens have to have enough pots, pans, plates, cups, cutlery, kitchen tools etc. You should be able to cook a decent meal and in a normal amount of time with a normal amount of effort. I’ve stayed at places where there weren’t enough pots and pans, half the gas burners didn’t work, and cooking a simple meal was strangely enough a huge challenge! Toilets have to be clean, actually flush and there should be enough toilet paper.

3. Common rooms
Hostelling is about meeting people, so a common room is essential. It’s nice when there’s a comfy couch, a table to play games at and to eat meals at. You know, something to encourage interaction between travellers. A TV can be nice, but it can also prevent interaction if everyone is staring at a screen.

4. Helpful owner/manager
Would you stay at a place where the manager keeps you waiting to check in or barks at you for no reason? Doesn’t a friendly host make a stay far more enjoyable? Thumbs up for helpful and kind owners!

5. A room that can be locked
Ha, this may be a weird one, but it’s actually nice when a room can be locked (and that people will actually lock it). I like knowing my things are safe, albeit only relatively. I’ve lived in cities my entire life, so I’m naturally careful with this kind of thing.

6. Lockers
Having lockers in the room where you can store your valuables is awesome and highly appreciated by travellers. Make sure you take your own pad lock with you.

7. Plug sockets
The digital era has long arrived and people travel with the comforts of their smartphones, tablets, laptops. It’s like backpacking 2.0. To charge all these devices, travellers need plug sockets! Preferably close to the bed, so we can keep an eye on it as things are charging. The Flaming Kiwi hostel in Queenstown has plug sockets inside lockers! What an awesome combination!

8. A shelf and light by the bed
It’s nice to be able to keep some things on a shelf by your bed. It’s even more perfect when there’s a plug socket by the shelf so you can charge your phone overnight and still keep it close. A small light by the bed is great so you can do some reading without bothering your roommates too much. Once the big light in the room has been turned off, it’s the general idea to switch to the use of the small lights.

9. Not having to go outside to use the toilet
If there is one thing I absolutely do not like is having to go outside to go to the bathroom. I love Hopewell to bits, but the one thing I don’t like is having to go outside to use the bathroom. Hopewell is not the only hostel though, I’ve stayed at more hostels where there was no indoor connection between room and bathroom. On the flip side, once I’m outside and look up at the beautiful starry lit sky, it is mesmerizing. It’s just that when I’m sleepy, I want to stay fuzzy and warm, and not having to brave the cold night.

10. Internet
What backpacker doesn’t want internet? Of course it’s most awesome when the internet or WiFi is free, but not all hostels do that. If anything, I really like it when the internet has a good speed so that it’s possible to upload pictures to Facebook for example.

How about you? What do you like when you stay at a hostel, a B&B or even a hotel?

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