Hostel life – good or bad?
By Mackenzie Mason, Staff Writer
Ohhh, hostel life.
Hostels are like hotels that provide travellers from all over the world with cheap dorm rooms where you can meet amazing people and have fun nights out. But sometimes you get stuck with top bunks, snoring roommates and standing in line for the bathroom.
Is staying in a hostels worth it?
When I got to Athens, Greece, my first destination on my backpacking trip through Europe, I stayed at the Athens Hawks Hostel. I ended up extending my stay not only because I wanted to see more of Athens, but also because I met some amazing people at the hostel’s rooftop bar — that’s right, my hostel had a rooftop bar with a perfect view of the Acropolis!
Hostel life has become a lot more glamorous since the 1990s when my mom did her own backpacking trip at 21-years-old. She was blown away by my experience with the modern hostel’s accommodations and I laughed at her when she commented on their generosity of providing linens. Bedding wasn’t a luxury she had back then but it’s a basic expectation in 2021.
Overall, I have been lucky to meet some incredible people from all over the world —- Canada, the United States, Germany, Colombia, France, Australia, the United Kingdom and so much more! At first I was really nervous about whether or not I would be able to meet people, but it was so easy and natural that I found myself making friends in no time.
What’s the cost?
I just finished up my time in Thira, otherwise known as the iconic island of Santorini. Here I stayed at the Bedspot Hostel in the town of Fira. I paid a little more to stay at this hostel, the equivalent of CAD$105 per night. I specifically chose this hostel for its location and safety — something this solo female traveller deemed totally worth it.
The money-saving component in itself is also a selling point for hostels. I could have stayed at one of the cheapest hotels in Fira, and I would be looking at the equivalent of CAD$300 per night. Saving money + making easy friends = one hell of a good time.
Sleeping beside strangers?
Now yes, sleeping in a room with several other strangers (both male and female) can be an interesting experience. I had two somewhat blissful nights of sleep in Athens before a new guy ‘moved in’ to the room — I have never heard anyone snore so loudly! But hey, he had a good sleep and now I have a good story.
As a woman, staying in a mixed dorm room was intimidating. But my experience has been that everyone just minds their own business. There have been multiple times where I have been the only girl in the room and I have yet to feel unsafe. I think there is a sense of community, mutual respect and understanding in a hostel. Hostels are a home away from home.
If you’re a solo female traveller and you’re anxious about the mixed rooms, I encourage you to give it a try, at least for a night. If you feel uncomfortable then no worries, there are also female-only dorms available, they might just be a few dollars more.
I think I’ve been lucky to travel during a time when most people aren’t traveling, so I’ve had no issue booking hostels at the last minute, relying on online reviews and ratings through HostelWorld and TripAdvisor. I have yet to wait in a line for the bathrooms and the hostels I’ve stayed at have been very clean.
Safety is an important component of everything when you’re travelling, especially as a woman. That’s why most hostels provide lockers now. Sometimes, like at the BedSpot Hostel, they give you a locker with a lock. Other times, like at the Athens Hawks Hostel, they don’t provide a lock so you have to bring your own.
As I write this, I’m on the ferry to Ios, where I will be staying at the Francesco’s Hostel, the highest rated hostel in Ios! It seems that Ios has a great nightlife so I’m looking forward to seeing the island and who I’ll meet!
After Ios, I’ll make my way to Naxos to explore its gorgeous sandy beaches, and then make a stop in Mykonos before finally travelling to one of my favourite places on Earth — Italy.
So is staying in a hostel worth it? In my opinion, absolutely!