Is it more economical to choose a hostel or hotel?

Hostels vs Hotels

Where do you choose to stay when you go on holiday? Is it a hostel with all of your friends, free access to a pool table 24/7 and the cheapest bar in town right down the hall; the perfect place to party? Or would you rather stay a fancy hotel with the most expensive sheets changed every day, mints on your pillow every night and a bathroom the size of your bedroom at home; all of the luxuries you can’t afford on a day to day basis. The pre-conceived perception of accommodation types is ingrained into the minds of travellers. Young bag-packers believe that there is only one way to travel on the cheap and that means bunking in with ten other strangers in a dirty, noisy hostel. Meanwhile families fork out hundreds of pounds to find the best hotels with the best pools, when in reality they spend very little time there, more interested in exploring a new place. These perceptions of accommodation types are drastically hampering the travelling experience for many of us every year, and we’ll probably find we’re spending more money than is necessary.

Generator Dublin and Hoax Liverpool are two hostels which have tried to change these perceptions by creating so-called ‘poshtels’ or posh hostels aimed at changing the hostel experience without compromising on the cost. Both provide food and a bar on site as well as modern high security systems and en-suite bathrooms, whilst Generator also provides an on-site guest kitchen and laundry facilities. Both hostels offer double and twin rooms ranging from £31 to £16.76 with the cheapest bed in a six bed mixed dorm in Generator priced at £10.92.

However, this is not a new idea on the hostel scene and many hostels now have similar facilities at a competitive prices. The two most popular hostels in both Liverpool and Dublin, according to hostelworld.com, provide very similar facilities to these so-called ‘new’ hostels. Hatters in Liverpool and Abigail’s in Dublin both provide en-suite rooms with Abigail’s offering twin private rooms at £21.83. A bed in an 8-bed dorm will cost £9.36. Hatters offer 4-bed private rooms for £20, not much more than a bed in the 10-bed dorm at £17, whilst also offering a bar and breakfast at an extra charge and free tea and coffee facilities in the room. Abigail’s does not have a bar but does offer breakfast at an extra charge and free Wi-Fi in common areas.

Hostels are completely different today than they were ten years ago and it’s a common misconception among even the most experienced travellers that hostels are run-down and dirty places where only those in their teen to mid-twenties would really want to stay whilst they make one of numerous attempts to ‘find themselves’.

Many hostels now not only provide a kitchen area where travellers can make their own food, but also have on-site bars and restaurants for people to relax in and unwind after a busy day exploring a new city, often at a much cheaper price than those in the surrounding area. From research, such facilities will not cost guests a lot more than what they would pay in other hostels nearby which do not offer these facilities, but will greatly improve on their experience.

Another common misconception among travellers, however, is that because they are choosing to stay in a hostel then they must be staying in the most affordable accommodation in the area where they are sure to meet lots of like-minded people that they can share their experiences with. Whilst it may be true that staying in a hostel will quite often, although not always, provide travellers with the opportunity to meet new people, for just a little extra money per night it is possible to find decent hotels or B&Bs at short notice and still immerse oneself in the local culture whilst meeting new people. B&Bs and guest houses are the best example of how this really works as they provide a comfortable place to stay, often in the home of a local, at a very affordable price.

The Old Dairy in Liverpool is one such example of this idea with a standard double room at £30 to a family room costing £69. Here, guests are staying in the proprietors home and whilst this means the occasional room has a shared bathroom (no more frightening than sharing the ‘en-suite’ bathroom provided in the 10-bed dorm in Hatters hostel) this Guest House provides travellers the opportunity to share experiences with locals and other travellers alike and is a comfortable base from which to explore Liverpool. Whilst the cost of staying here seems to be a lot more expensive than the hostels looked at it is worth noting that in a hostel prices are per person, regardless of how many people are staying in the room. It would cost two people £15 each to stay in a private room in the old dairy whilst it would cost them £20 each for a bed in a 6-bed dorm in Hoax.

One final common misconception among travellers is that chains such as ‘Premier Inn’ and ‘Travelodge’ are the best budget hotels to stay in. Whilst it is true that many of these chains have hotels in convenient areas such as close to airports, they are not as inexpensive as many believe. A room in the Premier Inn in Liverpool (moorlands) will cost £61 whether there is one person or four staying there.

What is clear is that regardless of where you are planning to visit it’s important to review all accommodation types available, paying close attention to what it has to offer you and your holiday plans. It’s important to keep an open mind because by leaving prejudices at the door there are so many options out there just waiting to be explored, and the place you never thought you’d ever stay may just give you the best experience of your life.

Image: Cropped use of image © of Elliot Brown (ell-r-brown, flickr).

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Katherine Halliday

I am an English and History graduate from Dundee with a passion for travel and a passion for writing.

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