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June 21, 2015

Hostels vs Airbnb

Our travel consultant R.L. explores the pros and cons of staying in Airbnb versus hostels.

by R.L.

Dear R.L.,

Among cheap accommodations when traveling abroad, which one do you recommend – Airbnb, hostel or dorm? What are the pros and cons of each?



Dear Maya,

When you say dorm, do you mean university dorms renting out rooms during school holiday seasons, or do you mean dorm rooms in hostels? I personally have never tried staying in the former, but from my experience living in one for one term, I would say the other forms of budget lodging are more value for money.

Airbnb is good when you want to feel like you're a resident in the place you're going to, not a tourist. You get to see inside a person's home, and, depending on the arrangement, how locals live. If you have a great landlord/lady, he or she can be a great source of information on the place you're visiting, local customs, etc. Privacy is almost always guaranteed, as there are a limited number of guests in the property.

Cons: if you're looking to socialize with other tourists, you're better off with a hostel. Airbnb properties are also not the best when you're looking to book in a hurry, because there's a response waiting time (the Instant Book feature is not always available) and the owner might not like your profile and decline.

And do yourself a favor and don't expect to be BFFs with the hosts no matter how much you feel like you have in common by seeing their profiles. Like a holiday hookup, don't force anything and just go with the flow. Sometimes hosts and guests do click and become mates, but sometimes they just happen to have a spare room and want to make money.

Hostels are great for socializing with other tourists, especially for solo travellers. With hostels there are more choices of rooms (dorms, singles, doubles, triples, etc), and there are different types of hostels: party hostel, boutique hostel, etc. Hostels also have a different range of facilities: bar, swimming pool, even a spa. Some really good ones have everything a traveller needs. You can book instantly, whenever (there are a few hostels that still rely on a person to key in reservations on their system, however, so always check their conditions so you don't show up thinking you have a reservation when you actually don't).

You can read testimonials for both Airbnb properties and hostels before you book (always read hostel reviews from booking sites because they're written by actual guests, not the owner's mates or competitors), so choose one that checks all your boxes from budget, style of travelling, and time.

Happy booking!


*Photo by Abi Skipp

Follow R.L.’s adventures through her Instagram account @stelivena.

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