I just stayed in a hostel for the first time and I had a great experience. It was like being in a college dorm, no one was murdered, my stuff stayed locked up and didn’t get stolen, I slept well, and it was located near everything I wanted to see and near major transportation centers.
The hostel was part of the Hostelling International chain (HI-Boston location), and it was newly renovated to be one of the greenest/eco-friendly hostels. Everything was clean and working. It was a quarter of the price of hotels in the same area. There was also free breakfast.
The two major drawbacks were 1) the general lack of socialization – you had to work extra hard to meet people because everyone was on their smartphones or laptops; and 2) the area was a little sketchy at night, but nothing unexpected from nighttime in a city. Be smart, at night go places with people, listen to the little voice that tells you something’s not right, etc. Despite these things I’d stay there again.
After the first night, I met someone to hang out with by getting to know the people in my dorm room, so the socialization part was taken care of. But other than that, I found it much less social than I expected. I think it would have been better if people didn’t use their smartphones and laptops so much that they were ignoring everyone. But I know the free WiFi was one of the features the hostel was marketing pretty well, so maybe it was partly because of that. And maybe a little jealousy on my part because I don’t have a smartphone and didn’t travel with my super-heavy laptop. And as an introvert, I do understand wanting to be alone, but it was surprising because it was really difficult to start conversations or find people to go to eat a meal with.
There were events planned, and maybe I didn’t make friends because I didn’t want to go to any of those offered during the 3 days I was there, but had I been there on other days (or for longer) I would have participated in the events (but there was just so much to see/do in Boston that I didn’t have time to do it all!)
This particular hostel had large lockers (big enough to fit a carry on luggage) with holes for the lock that were big enough for most small locker locks. I was using a flexible cable lock (I get commissions for purchases made through that link*) because I wasn’t sure how big the hole was going to be and I knew that some U-loop locks can’t fit in certain lockers because the hole is too small.
In general the hostel was really comfortable, with an industrial, Ikea vibe to it. They provided sheets and a blanket, a towel, breakfast (as mentioned earlier), and liquid shower soap (that never seemed to be refilled, so bring your own to be safe, or use the liquid hand soap from the sink). The shower curtain was a map of the Boston subway station, which was pretty cool, and if you really like it, you can buy one at the front desk to take home as a souvenir. The front desk also has earplugs, pocket-sized maps, and cookies available for free.
All in all, I enjoyed my stay at this hostel and would consider staying in other hostels in the future.
Have you ever stayed in a hostel? What was your experience?
Resources: Hostel FAQ by Hostelling International USA, and How to Pick a Good Hostel by Nomadic Matt
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