How do you travel? Do you like staying in hostels or hotels? What do you think when you hear the word hostel? It’s a concept that has been floating around for years, but only recently has it been more popular in the United States. Many are starting to learn and understand the motivation to stay in a hostel as oppose to a hotel but it’s really interesting to hear the various opinions that our guests have about the hostel I work for.
Our hostel is pretty swanky, we’ve got 5 floors of dorm and private rooms, a large kitchen and community space, computers, library, laundry, and in general a very clean environment. Perhaps because of the size, it does not seem as cozy than other small hostels- for example many of the ones I stayed at in Europe. We’ve got a great staff team that are always very friendly, helpful and happy to converse with guests when we get a chance! That is one of my favorite parts of working there, I’m exposed to all different cultures, personalities and opinions every day. Some days get busier than others and I don’t get a chance to guests as much, but it makes me really happy when guests do take the time to hang out around the desk. I’ve been blessed to learn about some of their stories, their goals, fears and their journey in life.
Those are opportunities that are more often missed in an hotel setting due to the nature of the “corporate” world. Would it be seen as unprofessional? Do the staff view each person as part of their “job” to attend to? Maybe the money making gets in the way of what we all want in life, to connect with one another, to tell our stories and make an impact in life.
What makes our hostel unique is the wide array of ages and personalities that stay with us. We have guests in their 20s backpacking, student groups traveling with school, older people on business, and most surprisingly, families with children. The common bond between many of these guests, aside from the fact that we’re cheaper than most hotels around the area, is that they are all searching for connections, for other people to share the experience of travel with. We run events unique to Boston not only to share what our city has to offer, but also for these shared memories that will last a lifetime. How often have you found yourself saying “remember that time we… and how awesome it was?”
These may be one night, a few days or a lifetime friendship, but the memories and stories will forever linger- hopefully- if you remember what happened after a night out.
Hotels are fancy, classy, the staff is dressed in “business” attire, and you get your own space in a private room but it can be quite lonely. They don’t have community spaces that facilitate conversations between strangers and strangers. You could argue that’s what the lobby is for, but the environment including the way the furnitures are placed and the attitudes of the staff can either encourage or shut down the dialogue.
There’s definitely a place and a time for the different types of travels but if you’ve never experienced staying in a hostel, I highly encourage you to step out of your comfort zone to make it happen. You’ll even save money! I can promise you that you will learn more about humanity, cultures and open your mind to a thousand and one thoughts about the world.
For those experienced travelers, do you prefer staying in hostels or hotels? And why?