Do you prefer hotels or hostels? A regular traveller might go for the option of hotels, especially if they are used to travelling on business. On the other hand, those who are backpacking, and most likely on a budget, will usually choose between airbnb and some kind of hostel.
I must admit to rarely using hostels these days. Although I went through a brief period in my twenties of using them, I stopped when I realised I could often travel to countries and stay at people’s houses using the Couchsurfing site. Where that site has declined, the monster that is Airbnb has filled its place.
While I’m well aware of the pros and cons of airbnb, I find that the difference between hostels and hotels is often harder to nail down.
With hostels, I usually know what I will be getting. There will be a common area, with a kitchen, some very well-used appliances. The beds will be bunk beds, if it’s a dormitory. And the advantage of such places is obvious. I can meet other travellers, whilst knowing I am saving money at the same time.
Yet, the benefits of hotels needs to be re-stated. Are we not in danger of forgetting some of the wonderful things that make travelling so fun, and indeed, the very things that we lose when we step into a private home that the owners have decided to advertise on airbnb in the optimistic hope of making some money?
So why should you spend the extra money on a hotel? Here is the first reason.
If I stay in a hotel I can be sure that I can come any time I choose. If it’s late at night, someone will be at the reception desk. If I want to come early, I know that i can leave my luggage at the desk while I wait for my room to be prepared.
The best thing about hotels is that everything is done for the guest’s convenience. The beds are soft and the pillows are large. There is a TV because, hey, sometimes after a ten hour flight and a one hour taxi from the airport it’s nice to just pass out to the soothing sounds of Japanese news.
If I forgot my toothbrush, i can be sure that the hotel will be provide one for me. There are the complimentary shampoos and soaps which are sometimes better than the ones in the shops, especially when the hotel makes their own products. If I sleep late, I will receive a call from downstairs quietly reminding me that I need to come down to the desk if I’m checking out. Its so much nicer than having someone tell me to my face that I should have left 1 hour ago when I’m still bleary-eyed and hungover. And on the subject of check out times, is there a reason why I must check out by 10 am when check-in is not until 4pm?
Stay in a hostel and you have to clean up after yourself, in the kitchen, bathroom, and especially the dormitory. And you thought you were on holiday? But if I stay in a hotel I can trail wet towels on the floor, spill crumbs on the bed, leave condoms in the sink, knowing that the maid will have tidied up, tucked the corners of the sheets in, and made a neat pile of my clothes. If I used any of the toiletries, they will have been replenished. Compare with Airbnb, which charges me an additional cleaning fee, for the cleaning they do after I leave, which doesn’t even benefit me.
DO you want breakfast? At a hostel you have to cook it yourself. Good luck finding something edible in the communal fridge which hasn’t been cleaned since the Backstreet Boys last had a hit. But with a hotel there’s often a free breakfast available. Go nuts. After all, it’s free.
Do you need a bus to the airport? They usually have free limousine services to the airport outside the hotel. Good luck wheeling your luggage from the hostel, which whatever they say, is always in the shittiest area of the city, where the drunks and the prostitutes fear to go.
There is a whole generation for whom comfort and convenience have become something of an embarrassment. Meanwhile, the hotel industry are providing excellent levels of service to the people who still appreciate it.