Airbnb Vs Hostels - How to choose?

 Village in France - Antibes

When planning your holiday/vacation or long term trip travelling the world, one of the questions at the front of anyones mind is always where shall I stay?  You and I both know that there are many options available to travellers; Hotels, B&Bs, Guesthouses, Hostels, heck even yurts, caravans, tents, boats are available to us now.  This is the 2017, and we are truly spoilt for choice.  The world wide web makes choosing and booking accommodation easier than ever before, and one such platform that has emerged at the forefront of the travel industry, is the extremely popular, Airbnb. Some people are wary of booking accommodation through this platform, and focus on the "horror stories" that they read to put them off.  Many travellers also shy away from hostels, because they are outside of their comfort zones, and people aren't really sure what to expect, or how to share a sleeping area together, especially as adults  In this post I explore the differences between the two; renting an Air Bnb versus booking a shared dorm, or a private room in a hostel.  

Introducing Airbnb

Airbnb is an online platform that is revolutionising the tourism industry worldwide, with a model as simple as facilitating contact between a willing host to rent their house - or part of it - and a renter looking for accommodation.


A more genuine, local experience.  Often tourists are in a hotel and if they don’t look through the window, they wouldn’t know if they were in Singapore or Stockholm. Most hotels tend to fall into neutrality by offering experiences without any local "flavour", especially the big chains. With Airbnb, when you stay in a private house, you can experience what it is like to live as a local, integrate into the life of the neighbourhood, talk with the community about the customs and the life of the place, and return home with a more reliable idea of the culture of the country. People particularly love this aspect of the Airbnb platform!

Accommodation for all tastes:

These range from a vintage caravan in Malibu, to a modern studio in Saigon or a luxury villa in Mykonos. You do not necessarily have to share the house with the host either; you can use the search filters of your choice and rent a bedroom or, if you prefer more privacy or travel in a group, a whole property. 

Cheaper than a hotel:

In general it is usually a cheaper alternative to a hotel.

Trust when booking:

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to renting private accommodation over the internet is the fear that it is a scam. In this case, you can check all the reviews of the previous tenants and, in addition, Airbnb acts as an intermediary when paying. So if there is any problem with the reservation it is usually the platform that responds. Moreover, not only are the tenant’s reviewed, but also the hosts. Both have to create an account to use the web, become verified through various forms of identification, and at the end of the stay have to write a mutual review of the experience. If one of the parties fails to write their criticism, neither is published. In this way, the host also has a reference tool when accepting or rejecting a booking.


In some cases the host does not have space to store luggage after checking out. If you plan to take advantage of the last day before catching the flight or train back home, this is truly a hassle.  It also can be really restricting in terms of arranging a late checkout, as many Airbnb hosts don't offer this service (even if you ask nicely)

 It is not obligatory to meet standards:

The published accommodations do not have to undergo any type of inspection before being advertised. Anyone can register their home, so there is nothing left to rely on but the comments of other users that have visited the place.

Restrictions on arrival time:

Sometimes, you may have to pay a surcharge for arriving later than 22:00, although many accommodations will indicate this in their booking conditions. On the other hand, it can be stressful if there is any setback with the arrival time. If you rent the entire accommodation, the host has to arrange to welcome you and for some, this can make them nervous that someone has been waiting for them. Alternatively though many experienced hosts will use key lock boxes to make their guests more comfortable if arriving late at night, knowing that someone isn't waiting for them to arrive.

Introducing Hostels

 hostel in europe

Hostels are places with budget accommodation, with shared dorm rooms and private rooms. Hostels usually have a good, centralised location, relaxed atmosphere, breakfast and free wifi. Many young people stay in hostels because of the good prices and the opportunity to make friends, and take part in hostel organised activities, such as free walking tours.


The most obvious advantage of staying in a hostel is that you pay a very affordable price to spend the night in very expensive cities such as London and Paris.  Some prices per night reach as little as £8/$10 a night, which is a huge saving, leaving you more money to continue travelling with.   The most interesting & appealing advantage to staying in a hostel is the number of people you will meet. Hostel members often exchange information about the most beautiful places and places to avoid, its known as the "traveller train of information".  The people you meet in hostels are from all over the world, and in a lot of cases your paths may never have crossed, if you hadn't chosen this type of accommodation. Whether your travelling solo, as a couple or with a group of friends, you will meet so many people.  You'll have so many great conversations and more than likely make friends for life, as I did when I travelled the world staying in hostels. 


On the other hand, not everything is perfect in the world of hostels. When sleeping in bedrooms, sometimes sharing rooms with people of the opposite sex, and sharing bathrooms can be tricky & way out of the comfort zone of some travellers. Closing times are also quite difficult. There are hostels that close daily at around 11 pm and open only in the morning, so you cant check in late at night, but there are also many that have a 24 hour reception - so always double check this in the booking info. A lot of the time hostels will ask their guests to leave the space between 9-10am, because it falls within the cleaning schedule, and gives them the space they need to clean the premises.  I believe its also a tactic to get you out exploring, rather than chilling in the dorm rooms, or TV rooms. It is very prudent to always store your things in lockers and padlock them too for security. This is due to the number of different people who will be present at any one time, especially in the dorm rooms.. Also, cleaners may unintentionally discard items if they are left lying around. Do not forget to bring towels, but its not the end of the world if you don't because many hostels rent these for a small charge. 


The hostel world is an excellent opportunity to save money, but not to everyone’s tastes. It depends on your perception of the trip, your style, the type of experience you like to have, and your priorities. The experience can be very good if you are open to new things, and can be a fantastic way to make friends that last for years. On the flipside, you can have a bad experience and have to live with people who are considered unbearable for several days (snoring is always a problem in hostels). Before considering staying at a hostel, do a price check for cheap hotels and Airbnbs in the region for which you intend to travel.  In high season, always try and book your place in advance and on dates like holidays, including New year and school holidays, it will be difficult to find accommodation if you have not made a reservation, and also a lot more expensive too.  All in all both types of accommodation will always provide you with a fantastic experience, it just all depends on who your travelling with, what type of trip it is, what your budget is, and how you want your trip to plan out.