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Pros and Cons: Hostel vs. Hotel vs. Airbnb

So, I did all this travel recently, which was amazing. 10/10 would recommend. And during my 12-day trip around a new continent, I stayed in four different cities in three different types of lodging: hostel, hotel and Airbnb.

I went to Paris, Barcelona, Madrid and Rome — check out the city guides! 

I did a lot of research before hand, I felt like I knew and planned for all the pros and cons of each, but STILL I was surprised with each experience.

The hostels

Hostels were completely new to me, so I have a lot of words on them. I think, for all the following reasons, I think it was my favorite. Ding, ding, ding. Winner, winner. Plus booking through HostelWorld was so easy. When’s my next hostel trip?

The pros

  • Private rooms are just like hotels. No sharing bathrooms. No sharing (gasp!) bedrooms.
  • There are amenities like a hotel! Complimentary/cheap breakfast, shampoo, etc.
  • Everything is (supposedly) cheaper. Breakfast in the morning is either free or a couple euros.
  • Communal kitchens. Meaning you can cook and store food in the fridge. Really budget friendly!
  • Tons of young travelers and there are free or cheap outings. In Barcelona, we went out on the hostel pub crawl, and it was amazing. We went to a bar on the beach that had an ICE BAR. Then a discotecca that was also super fun. Met some great people (and some annoying ones). All in all, it was fun to go out in a big group and I wish I had done more of that.
  • There are some CUTE AF hostels out there. I know. We had a hard time picking the two that we did in Spain. Everything at our Madrid hostel, The Hat Madrid, was instagramable. INCLUDING THE ROoftOP BAR WE HAD IN MADRID.
  • exists, and it’s a lifesaver. SO MANY HOSTELS. SO MANY REVIEWS.
  • Great advice and transportation info from the young, hip people who work there. PLUS MAPS! Both hostels had custom-made maps with tons of info for young people.

The cons

  • Private rooms can be as pricey as a hotel. Absolutely not worth it to get a private room on your own. Unless you are rich. In which case, why are you staying in a hostel? And, can I borrow have some money?
  • Breakfast/drinks are never *that* good. Our breakfast was some ham, some cereal, some bread, etc. No fried eggs or Texas waffles. But it does the trick.
  • Friends aren’t free. You gotta MAKE friends. And MAKE time to hangout with the other travelers. ALSO, the travelers that are there when you are there might suck. Put yourself out there!
  • Most hostels are converted from something else (an apartment complex or a big house), so some things don’t make sense. Our hostel in Barcelona was really weird. When you walk in, you go down some stairs and to get to our room, you went into the common area and went into what felt like a closet and magically you are in this other part of the builting with a TINY (it barely fit us two with our backpacks), old-fashioned elevator (like, a metal cage around it that wouldnt work unless the gates on each floor were closed). Once we took the (sometimes nonfunctional) elevator to the 6th floor, we had three keys to fiddle with to open the first door (one key let us into the hostel), which let us into an apartment(?) with three bedrooms. Once in, we had another hallway that took us to our bedroom, then used the third and final key. IT MADE NO SENSE.
  • You gotta book ahead of time, especially if you want a private room. You only put down a small deposit, and it’s refundable, so get it in!
  • Linen fees. Eye roll. Not everywhere has them, so just be carefull.

The hotel

Hôtel de l'Espérance - from the website. How did I not take a picture of this cute place?!

Hôtel de l’Espérance – from the website. How did I not take a picture of this cute place?!

The pros

  • Free ice. This will always be a pro for me hahahaha.
  • Brochures and maps and expert advice from the concierge.
  • ALWAYS a private room and bathroom, and you’re usually more likely to have all the perks: Shampoo bottles and soap, iron, hair dryer, etc.
  • Free breakfast. Same thing as the hostel breakfast, but I feel like hotel breakfasts are more likely than not free.

The cons

  • Usually the most expensive option. Of course there are deals and stuff, but expect to pay more than what you would at a hostel of a similar standard.
  • Small. Hostels and Airbnbs are both apartments (or apartments turned rentals), so you actually end up getting a good amount of space. Hotels were designed to be the same sized boxes and all of those boxes stuffed into the hotel.
  • No co-guest mingling in the same way as a hostel.
  • Weird key thing. The hotel we stayed at in Paris was amazing. Great location; solid everything. But, upon leaving, we had to leave our keys at the front desk. Then, when we returned, we picked them up again. It was kind of nice because you could never ever lose your key, but there was one night when we went to the Moulin Rouge, we got back at almost 1 am. Ouch. The hotelier (pretty sure it was just a mom and pop kinda thing; I only ever saw two people behind the desk) was cuddled up on the couch, patiently awaiting our return so he could go to sleep. It was so weird and we felt really bad. (Note: This obviously isn’t a thing all hotels do, but it was pretty funny.)

The Airbnb

The pros

  • Kitchen! Maybe even laundry!
  • You get to pretend like you’re a local, and confuse the tourists. There was a restaurant right next door to our Airbnb in Rome, and when we walked out of our apartment, the people on the patio looked at us like, “Wait, did they just come out of that apartment? But clearly they are tourists…. right? Oh, did they just go the wrong way and turn around? Yeah, they are tourists.”
  • Airbnb has a lot of reviews and options! You just gotta know your priorities.
  • Amazing location! We were 5 minutes away from the Colusseum, and kept accidentally stumbling upon it. We even were once two glasses of wine in (during LUNCH, lol) when we looked over and saw just, you know, a more than 2,000-year-old structure that recognizable by all of the world. Cheers.

The cons

  • Unless your Airbnb host is an overachiever, you get no free things like toiletries or maps/guides.
  • Fees 🙁 They add up.
  • Very “lived in.” Like, the sheets were worn in a way that told me that a lot of people had stayed here and the sheets (god willing) have been washed quite a few times.
  • No towel service. Don’t forget to hang it up!
  • Normal apartment quirks. You know how your home has little things that you just have to get used too? This apartment had no hot water at different times (late at night). PLUS…. no A/C.
  • Again, no young people to hang with. No people at all.

8 thoughts on “Pros and Cons: Hostel vs. Hotel vs. Airbnb

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