Old vs. New Model Hostels
In the past I’ve talked about two primary types of hostels which I’ve classified as “Old Model” and “New Model” hostels. To re-hash these two types, Old Model hostels tend to only provide the bare basics. If you traveled 10+ years ago, they’re the type of hostel you are no doubt familiar with. They charge a premium for everything from sheets to wifi (when offered). They’re usually lacking key amenities like kitchens and break rooms, usually only offer same-sex dorm rooms, lack 24 hour receptions and perhaps most egregious in my book tend to still view lockouts as acceptable. For those of you familiar with my past posts, you’ll recall that I tend to avoid HI Europe and YHA Europe hostels like the plague because the majority of the European member hostels in these two chains (They’re great elsewhere), embody the Old Model hostel structure and are, for a lack of a better word, absolutely dreadful.
In stark contrast New Model hostels (like the photo from Generator Copenhagen above) typically offer better facilities, sheets are almost always included, outside sleeping bags/sheets are prohibited, they often have on-site kitchens/common rooms/bars, 24 hour receptions, no lockouts, free wifi, computers available for users and mixed dorm rooms among other key differences. While the sticker price may be a few dollars more for the room, they’re usually the same price/cheaper by the time you add in all of the nonsense fees the Old Model hostels tack on.
The Party Hostel
The concept of a party hostel is nothing new. Party hostels have been around for years. In truth, party-ing is also a common and (dare I say) almost essential part of a good hostel. That said, as with the evolution of any industry things change, especially as the need to differentiate oneself increases due to competition. As a result there are now groups of hostels which have begun to brand and tailor their offering specifically as “Party Hostels”. Perhaps some of the best examples of this are based in Budapest, Hungary. With more than 125 hostels in the city, competition for filling hostel beds is absolutely brutal. These new Party Hostels have embraced a spring break like mentality issuing guests tivek wristbands, offering nightly theme events and innovative versions of traditional hostel pub crawls, investing in costume boxes for guests, throwing theme party nights, and perhaps most importantly a no apologies approach to their party focused experience. They’re New Hostels, but supercharged by jagger, absinthe and a liters of beer.
While bonding over beers, late nights out, noise, adventure and a fairly active experience has been an integral part of the hostel experience for a long time, most hostels have always aspired to balance their varied customer’s experience. Partying within reason was tolerated, noise limits were enforced, and some communal events were typically organized to help solo (and social) backpackers and hostel goers bond. This is a similar, but fundamentally different approach than the new Party Hostel.
The Next Hostel You Book
While Party Hostels are still fairly rare, they are a growing presence in the hostel space and one which I expect to continue to become more and more common. So, when you go to book your next hostel consider what you’re in the mood for, what you hope to accomplish, what you’re comfortable with and which hostel is right for you. Old Model, New Model, or Party Hostel?
If any of you have stayed in a self declared Party Hostel I’d love to hear what your experience was, your take, what drew you to it, and of course if you sought it out or accidentally stumbled into it?