Why did I choose to stay in hostels for my vacation?
Well, for 2 simple reasons;
- It’s cheap
- It’s a great way to meet new people
When I started planning for my vacation, I decided from the very beginning that I’d stay in a hostel. My usual travel buddies could not make this trip because of work or other commitments, and I didn’t want to be alone on this trip. Yes, I am a solo traveller and I enjoy my own company, but for this trip I really wanted company and if my friends couldn’t make it I was going to make friends in Italy… that was the whole thought process behind scouring endless hostel websites and reading their reviews on multiple platforms. 🤯
Eventually, I stuck to my tried and tested Booking.com, I love their layout, I trust their platform and I know if I ever have problems with the accommodation, they will find a way to remedy it. Due to my frequent traveller and genius points on booking.com, I get to get discounts on some hotels and activities.
After a few weeks of going back and forth between two hostels, I finally settled on Madama Hostel & Bistro in Milan. From the pictures, it looked like a quirky place, with a vibe and from the reviews, it sounded exactly like the kind of place you can meet fellow travellers! I booked it!
In hotels, you know from the onset what you’re getting. Your own private room with a private bathroom. You get to choose if you want a massive suite or a single room. You pay for a room on the top floor or at the end of a corridor with no noise. You choose a room with a view of the sea or one that’s completely dark the whole day because you just want to sleep. You want a room with a bed facing east? No problem they can do that for you. You want a tub and a rainfall shower head? No problem their executive suite has that. Hotels are easy. Airbnb’s are easier.
In a hostel, however, I was lost. I didn’t know what to say when I got there. Do I say I prefer a top bunk? Do I say I need an extra pillow? Do they have extra pillows? I was genuinely at a loss.
As soon as I got to Madama Hostel & Bistro my worries disappeared! The lady at the check-in desk was welcoming, she put on a big smile and quickly explained everything to me without me having to ask. I had the option of choosing the bed I wanted! They had lockers for me to store my valuables. She even told me about all the fun stuff they had going on there! Just like that this woman made me forget all the fears I had and made it possible for me to relax! Not a bad start to a vacation 🤗
Although located 10 mins away from the centre by trams, the hostel, in its own unique way had so much to do. On the day I got there, Saturday, they had a Karaoke evening which was a great way to break the ice with some of the people staying there. It was also a great opportunity for tourists and locals to mix and mingle. I have a highlight reel on my Instagram, where you can watch the fun karaoke night!
You can tell from the onset that many locals love this place! The bistro, which bears the name Madama as well, is the heart of the community and neighbourhood in that part of Milan. Daily, I saw hundreds of people coming and going because of the wonderful atmosphere this place has and because of their delicious food. The quirky and lively feeling is no doubt as a result of the artworks spread around the building done by famous artists such as Nadya Guarnizo Rozo, Daniele Nitti and many more.
So what’s it like living with other people in one room?
It all depends on who’s in that room with you. Since it’s a hostel, you have people who stay for the night and leave the next day, you have week-long campers who practically live there, you have people who don’t want to chat at all then you have that one person who talks too loud and don’t observe common courtesy of a shared living space. So it’s a mix of people, and that’s exactly what makes it very exciting to a people observer like myself.
Fortunately, the beds were comfortable. The heating worked and so did the shutters. I got a perfect night’s rest every night I was there. Such things are über important to me. If I’m on holiday I need my 9 hours of sleep each night because I know when I’m going to work I average 5-7 hours a night and this body of mine can not cope with the copious amounts of coffee needed just so I can stay awake.
Sharing the bathroom
I know for sure my aunt wouldn’t be able to live in a hostel for a day. She likes order and neatness and everything smelling like lavender. But she could live in Madama. The staff cleaned and scrubbed the rooms daily. They left a clean mop and pail behind in each bathroom in case you spilt water on the floor of the bathroom, you could dry it up and leave the room clean for the next person. So although I expected a huge mess. It was really clean for a room shared by 6 – 8 people at a time.
There were a number of perks staying in a shared female hostel room. One of which was that I got to meet so many wonderful people. A lovely girl from Switzerland, a lawyer from Brazil, a student from China, all of whom I would never have met had I stayed in a private room at a hotel.
Cost: My hostel stay at Madama cost me 134€ for 4 nights. Which covered breakfast, dinner and accommodation, that works out to be 33€ a night incl. food! Cheap! Drinks and lunch at the bar were discounted for hostel guests. So in terms of price, this was well worth it!
The question though is: Are hostel stays a better option for solo travellers?
I think everyone should experience this at least once in they’re travel lives. Will I be booking myself into one again? yes definitely, but not anytime soon. I think I will stay in a hostel once or twice a year. The rest of the times I’ll book an Airbnb or a private room. InTrOvErT aLeRt!!
What do you think? Did my experience quiet some fears and concerns you had? Are you a hostel newbie? Are you an expert? Drop some tips below!