Why Are Hostels Bad? The Hateful Way to Save Money

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Why are hostels bad? I know that many people like the hostel culture and prefer to stay in hostels when travelling. I understand that many of them do so to save money. But also that for many others, especially when travelling solo,  it is an easier way to meet other travellers. However, I am one of those who does not like hostels and even hates them. Even when I stay in a room alone, the hostel is still a place that prevents me from sleeping because of the noise.


Photo: Pixabay – @gery


The other thing I hate in hostels is the lack of privacy. It is something I need every day as I’m a typical introvert. I’d be glad if you share your hostel experiences. Are you one of those who likes them or you hate them like me? And why? Give examples and share stories from your travel life showing the good or the bad aspects of the hostel in the comments under the article.



This is only the second time I stay at a hostel. The first time was in Plovdiv, a hostel that is voted as one of the best in the world.




I enter the room and see three bunk beds surrounded by piles of belongings, among which I recognize shampoo bottles aligned like soldiers, lots of plastic bags with unknown contents, shoes, suitcases, rucksacks, even messy underwear …


By presumption, people who stay at hostels are treated as “poor students,” though this is far from the truth. People of different ages take advantage of the rooms and rates at the hostel. In my case, I was automatically charged as a student at the airport of Alice Springs for the bus transfer. 


The strangest thing in the room, however, is laying on the beds. It’s in the middle of the afternoon but the girls are lying as opium-dependent in absolute silence, spending their time in a drowsy state,  staring their laptops screens. But the laptops are just some of the things that occupy the space in their beds. There are also cosmetic products, phones, clothes, notebooks or books, probably documents and wallets are also safely hiding in the folds of the blankets.




I will be sharing the room with five other strangers, but we have not even said “Good day.” to each other. Good that it’s girls-only room. I can not imagine if I had to support the smell of men’s shoes as well.

I’m back at early evening; the “opium” girls are gone. Their lives just begin now when the dark is coming outside. We obviously have different lifestyles and most likely this is due to the age difference, I believe.



I enter the bathroom I share with these girls. Between the many small and larger bottles that lie on the wall dividing the toilet from the shower, I find two razors that are almost falling off the wall. It’s as if someone has thrown them there without any respect for their important purpose. Between them, I see also a hair strap, and other little things that I’d rather not pay attention to. It seems to me dirty, though it is not, and messy, what it is indeed.



I’m going to bed not too early. And by 12 pm we’re all in our beds, ready to sleep, I believe.  The night before, because of the early flight, I only slept for about three hours.


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My hopes were empty. By 5 a.m. someone knocks vigorously on the door, and the girl sleeping underneath me bounces like a rabbit. There is a short conversation and my bed neighbour starts to pack her bags. I have no idea how long did this lasts, but there must have been an hour. A rustling of plastic bags, running water,  toilet flush, dragging slippers … I guess I slept, but not quite.



In about two hours, another girl gets up and the process repeats. And I keep trying to sleep hoping that the earplugs will help.


I wake up the next day and to tell you right, I have no idea how the girls in my room look like. I feel like I’m back in time, on a school camp, but I don’t know my “classmates”. And there is something else. At that time,  the camp rooms were more spacious and lighter. Maybe it was the Socialist Time, but we had light and a lot of laughter during these camps. This camp is not like that.



True, the place is very special. “Red Center,” in the middle of nowhere, “In the middle of everything,” call it whatever you want. It’s Alice Springs, the town where you can see Aboriginal people on the streets, the most red-dirt settlement I’ve ever seen; the place that takes you to the Outback. The most Australian of all places you will visit on the continent. 



Big cities like Sydney are “western”, have similar features like the ones anywhere else in the world, despite cultural differences that make them different from other countries. But in Alice Springs, things are not so determined by the Man but by Nature. Here people have done as much as they could to have some comfort and convenience, but the peculiarities and the remoteness are the ones that determine the way of life, the meaning of the days and the pace of the passing hours.



I look at my phone; it’s 11 a.m,! How could I have slept so long? Ah, what am I wondering? “Our” room is in perpetual darkness. Even during the day someone still sleeps, the curtains are pulled and nobody dares to start the light. This room suppresses me terribly. I dress as fast as I can to get out of it. I am wondering why these girls came to the Red Centre if they spend their time sleeping?!



Well, I should not be quick to judge. They may have been here for a long time and are bored. Because except walking around the city once and going to the tours to Uluru and Kata-Tjuta outside the town, there is nothing else to do if you don’t have a vehicle. 



I’m going to the shared kitchen. The “dining room” are tables arranged under the shade around a pool, full of fallen leaves. I make my coffee and sit down to work on the next article about Australia. The yard begins to fill up with other “early birds”. The smell of ketchup and other ingredients of other “homemade” fast food meals reaches my nostrils.



Then I feel that the sticking wood under my elbows. I’m looking around and wonder if I will be able for 3 days to sleep with strangers, in a bed that despite being clean is quite uncomfortable; in a room whose floor is occupied by someone else’s belongings; with people who are obviously not from my “tribe” and to whom I’m not even interested to talk when I see their empty eyes and matted hair that seem to have not seen water and a comb for at least three months.



Is it worth saving money to put yourself in a situation that is totally foreign to you and even unpleasant? Well, yes, the bed in my room is worth at least five times less than a motel room. And I will continue my little “experiment” because I like a challenge and to put myself in situations that teach me something new and help me grow. 


But I have always believed and will continue to think that hostels are a repulsive way to spend your time. I am aware that many people like the social side of this type of accommodation. But to be honest, I would say I expected much more from the hostel social life here in Australia; a country that has developed hostel hospitality to great heights, especially in the way of service and the extra facilities available to the guests.



The heat glues like a second skin. Today it will be only 32 degrees in Alice Springs. A cool day, they say. I look towards the extra feature of this hostel – the pool, with a sense of regret. If it didn’t cause a sense of disgust, I would go there with pleasure. Instead, I’d prefer to apply the essential sunscreen, put on the funny hat that protects me from the sun and go wander through the streets of Alice Springs, where I can meet local aboriginal people and watch the local life passing by.



But anyway. This is just my opinion. if you are one of the people who like to stay in hostels, the place I stayed in Alice Springs, and which has a pretty good rating on Booking, is Jump Inn Budget Accommodation. Check it out, it can be good for (let alone save you some money).


What do you think about the hostels? Do you love them or hate them?

Do you think they are a good idea and why?




2 Comments on “Why Are Hostels Bad? The Hateful Way to Save Money

  1. Hi Geri,
    I’m sure every backpacker has felt this way at some point in their travels. I know I have. But it seems to me you are looking at the situation from an extremely negative perspective. I have met some of my closest friends in hostels. Instead of judging, and referring to them as “opium girls” why not get to know them? A lot of travelers are staying in hostels while they complete their rural work (working in rural hours in order to receive a second year visa.) and they are most likely exhausted from it. Or maybe they are sick, and need to sleep during the day. Everyone needs downtime and deserves to not be judged. To the people reading this, please don’t let this article turn you off of hostels. They can be an amazing experience. They get you out of your comfort zone. Don’t be so quick to judge. If privacy if such a huge issue, opt for a private room. That being said, force yourself to socialize in the common room, or shared kitchen. Travelling is all about new experiences, meeting and learning from other people and hostels are a huge part of that. Dont hide in a hotel room the whole time!
    Happy travels 🙂

    • Hi Cole,
      and thank you for taking the time to comment. You are absolutely right, these girls probably had their reasons. And yes, I think they were working (some of them, not all). But still, it felt strange to me, as a traveller. Thank you also for so gently pointing out the positives of staying at a hostel. But I wanted to give voice and express the position of people like me. And it is not about the socializing – it is great! I met some new friends there. The problem is with the sleeping – even in a private room, a hostel is still too noisy for me. I appreciate what you say and hope there are more people like you than like me, who like and can sleep in hostels without. Because this will give them the opportunity to see more from this beautiful world.
      Happy travel to you too!

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