So if you’ve traveled on a budget before you’ve probably used a hostel once or twice, or completely exclusively. Since my travel started when I was young I never had to worry about my accommodations, it was my parents responsibility. But times arrow marched forward and now I’m responsible for me. So when I started wanting to travel again this new word entered my vocabulary, Hostel. Now here I am, (only ever hearing this word once before in a scary movie title) trying to backpack Europe on a budget and figure out where I am going to lay my head. One of my best friends used to work in a hostel so she finally convinced me to try it and it changed everything.
My first stop in Europe was in Lisbon, Portugal. A beautiful city with stunning architecture and delicious food and gorgeous people. I landed mid-afternoon so I had to find my hostel before the night fall, which I learned later seems to be a bit late. I eventually found my hostel named appropriately Lost Inn Lisbon. I climbed the stairs and was greeted so warmly by the staff. They offered sangria which I got to try on my third night (it was amazing, total game changer for sangria) and I was showed to my shared room. The beds were the comfiest beds I’ve ever felt while traveling, the bunks were pretty private considering there were eight of us in a room, everything was so clean, the bathrooms were beautiful and roomy, which is weird to say but when traveling I suppose that’s one of the little things. I couldn’t believe how nice it was. They offered fantastic tours, and nightly in-hostel events like “Mama’s Soup” or Sangria. The free breakfast was so good and offered a pretty wide variety. Everything was so perfect! Lost Inn Lisbon set the standard for me in terms of hostels. Plus it made Lisbon a winner in my book. I didn’t expect anything out of Lisbon but when I left all I wanted was to go back.
Unfortunately…..there’s also hostels that are more on the hostile side. When I was in Barcelona, my hostel there was Casa Kessler and it was awful. Everyone was cramped, whether it was the bathrooms, the kitchen, the common room, or quarters. I got the dreaded top bunk and I didn’t have enough space in it to even sit up. My locker was teeny tiny so I used it only to hold my dirty laundry. The staff there was unapologetically rude. They couldn’t be bothered by anything, not even to check me in. I stood waiting for at least 30 minutes before the staff finished their discussion in front of me, to check me in. This made what I had hoped to be my favorite destination, awful. Even my fellow bunkmates were rude, and I can’t blame them. When we were piled on top of each other night after night with zero privacy, I’d be rude too. Also don’t get me wrong Barcelona is a stunning city with incredible history, and who could miss out on Gaudi’s architecture? Everyone should see Barcelona once, but boy was it tough for me to love it the same way as Lisbon.
My most recent hostel experience was in New Orleans, I stayed at Site 61. This was an interesting hostel because appearance wise and location wasn’t the best, it wasn’t as high tech as Lost Inn Lisbon, but the people were a million times more friendly then in Barcelona. So much so that staying in for a day was sometimes the best thing to do. I would grab my morning coffee and sit in the common room and chat with the staff as they would come by, some would sit down with me and we’d laugh at commercials and whatever else was on the tv. It’s that damn southern hospitality it’s somethings so incredible I have even thought of going back down to New Orleans to just visit them.
Where you lay your head matters. In some cases it can make or break a trip. Now obviously always check reviews before going and remember that there will always be things that are completely out of control i.e. snoring bunkmates, bad bunk placement, but the rest can always be avoided by checking the places reviews. Use your tools, google is your friend. But the important thing to do in hostels is socialize, everyone there has one thing in common, travel. Talk about it.