You’ve decided that you’re finally doing it. You’re going to embark on that solo adventure through Europe. You’ve dreamed of travelling solo for years but there was always something holding you back, maybe a bit of fear? People telling you it’s not safe? Well, now that you’ve chosen your cities, worked out the route and prepared a rough budget - it all feels more real. You’re actually going.
Next step. You need to book your accommodation in each city (somewhere centrally located with free breakfast is always a plus). When it comes to solo travel, hostels are the best place to stay. Every backpacker will tell you the same thing - read our hostels V hotel debate here . And it’s not just because a bed in a hostel dorm room is cheap. Sure, that has something to do with it but for us, it’s all about the experience. We’ve rounded up 9 amazing benefits of staying in hostels when travelling solo…
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Meeting new people is so easy
One of the biggest fears solo travellers have is getting lonely on the road. But trust us, if you stay in hostels you’re guaranteed to meet people from all over the world - and you’ll probably end up making some really good friends. Not only will hostels allow you to meet other solo travellers but you’ll also find yourself chatting to bigger groups of friends and the amazing hostel staff members.
So, how do you just become friends with a random person? You’ll probably find that if you hang out at the hostel bar, other backpackers will approach you first. Or sometimes it’s just a matter of plucking up the courage to introduce yourself and a conversation can blossom from there. Before you know it, you’ll be invited to join their pub crawl and will end up sightseeing with them the next day. There’s such a sociable, family atmosphere in hostels where many other people are in the same boat as you.
You can still get your privacy
If you haven’t stayed in hostels before, one concern that goes through most people's heads is the lack of privacy. Sure, you could be sharing a dorm room with 6 people or 15 people - it can really depend on what you choose and how comfortable you are with sharing. But did you know most hostels also offer modern private rooms with ensuites? This allows you to have your own space but still benefit from the sociable hostel atmosphere in the bar. Staying in a private room really is the best of both worlds. Understandably, they just cost a bit more than a bed in a dorm (but still cheaper than a budget hotel).
Some hostels (like ours) may even boast capsule beds or pods beds within a dorm which provide much more privacy than a bunk bed.
The party atmosphere
Many of Europe’s best hostels are awesome because they aren’t just a place to sleep - but also a place to party. Offering daily drink deals for guests, live DJs, beer pong, Happy Hour and an amazing playlist most nights of the week, you don’t have to spend a fortune going out in an expensive city like London or Paris when the hostels very own nightclub is just a stroll from your bed. After a few too many jager bombs, you’ll be grateful for not having to make your way back to the hostel late at night.
If you’re aren’t looking for a party hostel then make sure to read up on your accommodation before you book it. There are plenty of city hostels that are more relaxed with less of a party focus but still offering tons of other events to get invovled in from yoga classes, whisky tastings (in Edinburgh), cooking classes and more. Beats sitting in a sterile budget hotel room on your own if you ask us! And on that note...
Fun hostel events
Hostel events are one of the best things about staying in hostels because it makes the experience far more authentic. Perfect for solo travellers, hostel events give you an opportunity to get involved in something different and break the ice with some new people, something you won’t find in hotels or an airbnb. At St Christopher’s Inns hostels across Europe, we offer free walking tours every day, pub crawls in the evenings and some awesome activities that vary between cities. For example, our Barcelona hostel throws its own paella-making classes, organises transport to local beach clubs and throws events in the bar every night. At our Bruges hostel, you can sign up to beer tasting where you’ll sample local Belgian beers on-site. In Amsterdam, the Flying Pig Uptown hostel hosts weekly Dutch dinners. At our new Berlin hostel, there are always some new experimental events taking place.
It’s super affordable
The obvious perk of staying in hostels is the cheap price tag. As a solo backpacker, you’ll want to be budgeting and saving as much money as you can for things you really want to do in each city- so budget accommodation is an essential. A bed in a hostel can be as affordable as €20 a night - sometimes even less during the low season. Plus, there are always offers or discounts that you can use to make your trip even cheaper. When you’re travelling to some of Europe’s more expensive cities like Switzerland or Iceland, hostels will still be pretty cheap. The awesome thing is, even though hostels are a cheap option, that doesn’t mean they’re basic or tired. Over the years, hostelling has really transformed with quirky interior designs, rooftop bars and modern chill out spaces. Do some research and you’ll see.
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They’re secure and safe
Hostels are totally safe - especially compared to back in the day. Our biggest tip would be to make sure that the hostel is located in a safe neighbourhood or central location. Every city has its dodgy parts so make sure you’re not staying in one. You’ll also find that many hostels today have 24 hour on-site security and secure key cards or fobs to get into the rooms. Super safe. St Christopher’s Inns at the Village in London has designed a whole floor just for female travellers, which can only be accessed by a key card.
When it comes to theft, it happens everywhere and since you’re sharing a dorm room with strangers, it’s best to be extra vigilant. Don’t leave clothes or valuables out, lock your suitcase or backpack everytime you leave the room and keep your passport on you at all times. As long as you use your common sense you’ll be fine.
Free breakfast or meals
The most important meal of the day tastes even better when it’s free. Most European hostels offer free breakfast to its guests which is perfect for a solo traveller on the go. Fill up on a continental breakfast at St Christopher’s Inns before exploring the city but make sure to book your stay directly on the website or breakfast isn’t included in the price. Free breakfast will save money and ensure that you don’t have to worry about finding somewhere to eat in the mornings. Our hostel breakfasts include toast, cereals, cheeses, ham, jams and eggs and much more. Some hostels may offer a free evening meal instead of breakfast.
The location is mostly always central!
We recommend that anyone travelling alone books accommodation in the heart of the city so you don’t have to spend too much time travelling. It’s much easier to walk out the hostel and straight into the buzz of it all, than having to travel into the city everyday from the outskirts. Most hostels are perfectly located in central city locations and near a metro station. Make sure to check before you book!
You can share travel tips/stories
Taking travel recommendations from other backpackers will make your trip. From the best cheap eats in the city, useful travel hacks to the best museums or attractions - you name it, there will be someone at the hostel who has done it all and knows it all. Hostels are a great place to share travel tips, stories and useful information so find the most experienced traveller in the building and befriend them! Another awesome way to get travel recommendations is from the hostel staff (they live in the city after all, and most of them actually started off as backpackers, loved it so much and decided to make a career out of it at our hostels).