Friday, November 23, 2012

My Hostel Experience

I cant remember exactly when I began having negative thoughts about Hostels. Maybe it was the movie Hostel, which I never saw, but had heard about. But I just knew, I was not okay with staying in one!

When I met Luke, he told me about the experience he had while traveling throughout Europe. He raved about how many people he met and how fun it was - he still talks about it to this day. His trip included sleeping in hostels and sleeping on park benches. Again, I will NEVER go on a trip like that!

After speaking with many many many people, I had learned that not all hostels are what I imagined. I have high maintenance sleep issues, but I also have a strong desire to spend as little money as possible. Knowing how much we were already spending on our trip and how I can sleep when we got back to Aberdeen, I decided to give it a try while we stayed in Vienna, Austria.

Here are a few stereotypes I had in mind prior to my stay, and also what I learned during my stay:
1.) You sleep in a room with strangers --- yes, you do but only if you choose to. At a cheaper rate, you can choose to stay in a room with random people. You can also choose a co-ed room or a room of your same sex. We had four people in our group, so we stayed in a room with just the four of us. If it was just Luke and I, we would have chosen to stay in a two person room.
2.) They are dangerous... people steal your things... people get into your bed... etc --- Just like any place, if you are smart then you should be fine. Our place, and from what I have been told about most hostels, have lockers in the rooms, so you can store your things. If you choose to stay in a room with strangers, then you can secure your belongings in your locker. If you choose to stay in a room with people you know and trust, then you don't really need to use a locker because the doors to the rooms lock. If you stay in a room with strangers, then you do run the risk of someone who is drunk getting in your bed. Like bed & breakfasts, the front entrance locks so only paying guests can get in after hours. If something is a reasonable problem, you can always report it to the staff.
3.) They are noisy and loud --- They can be. But so can hotels and so can bed & breakfasts. Hostels do generally have younger crowds who like to stay out later, so sometimes they can be rowdy in the hallways. There are signs all over telling people to be quiet during certain hours. Again, hotels can be just as noisy.
4.) There are bunk beds --- Yep, there are bunk beds. It really isn't that big of a deal. Its a bed and you are paying a cheaper rate to sleep in it, so stay somewhere else if that is a problem for you.
5.) Smelly hippies stay at hostels --- Maybe. During Luke's after-college European adventure, I'm sure he was one of those - maybe not the hippie, but probably the smelly. At the Wombats in Vienna, I saw no one that looked like a smelly hippie, aside from the staff. The guests looked clean and sane... not that hippies are insane.
6.) They are smokey and dark --- Not the one we stayed at. Wombats was brightly lit, colorful, and not smokey. The place was a no smoking zone, even the bar (except for Halloween night), so it was nice to get away from the rest of the venues in smokey Vienna.
7.) They are really cheap --- Generally, they are cheaper than hotels or bed & breakfasts. It all depends on what you want and how many people are in your group... so the price can get close to a hotel if you are being picky.
8.) The staff is very helpful --- If you read the history of hostels, it states that the first few encouraged outdoor activity. In general, they want you to experience the most of their city and have a strong knowledge of the places to see, places to eat and how to save money but still have a great experience. Many of them have a table or board that posts the activities going on around town.

The Wombats City Hostel in Vienna was apparently a nice hostel according to my friend Dave and Jen. It reminded me of a college dorm, but it was actually so much nicer! I guess I got lucky spoiled with my first experience....

All four of us stayed in one room, so there were two bunk beds. We also had a bathroom in our room. We were given sheets upon arrival, and we got towels by request. Not all hostels give you towels --- you may to have to pay a small fee or put down a deposit. We also had four lockers and were given key cards for the lockers in exchange for IDs (so they could get the cards back). I needed a hair dryer which was supposed to be a 10 Euro deposit, but I didnt have money when asking for it, so they took my word that I would return it and gave it to me for free. There were also signs stating that no food or alcohol was allowed in the rooms to prevent bugs and rodents.

The "lobby" of the hostel had a vending machine, couches, tons of computer, free wifi, and a few TV's. There was also a large cork board filled with flyers of the city's events.

computer area
circular couch to encourage socializing
front desk
cork board with flyers and brochures
The hostel had a smoke-free bar, The Wombar, that included a pool table, couches and cheap drinks & food. It was open from 6pm until 2am (unless it was Halloween, then it was smokey and open all night :-\). For staying at the hostel, we got a free welcome drink!

very difficult to see,
but people are sitting on couches
in the bottom left
and the bar is toward the back
To get to the cafe, you had to enter the bar and go upstairs. The cafe consisted of a bunch of tables because this where you ate breakfast in the morning. There was also a shared kitchen that had 4 four-top stoves, ovens, a sink and many dishes to share. If you purchased food, you could cook in the kitchen and use the two refrigerators and cabinets to store your food. You were required to clean up after yourself if you cooked or used the cafe during your own time.

The hostel was fairly secure... at night, you had to use your key card to enter the hostel lobby. You had to use your key card to get onto your floor. You had to use your key card to get into your room. And last, you had to use your key card to get into your locker where you secured your belongings.

front entrance - that's Luke with his pack :-)
It was definitely as interesting experience - it so much reminded me of college which brought back such fun memories! I can see why staying in hostels is so appealing to the younger crowd. Does this mean I am old or does this mean I am still young? Hmmmmmmm. We actually saw a family of four (the kids were around ages 5-7) eating breakfast one morning! For such a short period of time, a hostel is worth staying in to save money. And since Luke and I spend so little time in our room, we rarely need anything fancy! Add and to the research list when looking for lodging on our next trips!

2009 marked the 100th anniversary of the first permanent hostel to open its doors to travelers in 1909 in the Altena Castle in North Rhine-Westphalia, western Germany. So if the concept has been around for that long it can’t be all that bad. source


1 comment:

  1. Looks like it was a nice hostel! Glad you had a good experience:)


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