Have you ever thought of sleeping in a room in an entirely different country with a bunch of strangers? Hollis O’Brien has. In fact, the senior at Fitchburg State University has done it multiple times. Hostels have received a reputation amongst travelers as cheap, but creepy alternative to hotels. But according to O’Brien, hostels can be economical and enjoyable as well.
“I’ve stayed in a hostel four times,” Hollis says. “Usually I get a private room, but this time I didn’t,” she says, referring to her recent stay at Gilligan’s Backpackers Hotel and Resort in Cairns, Australia. O’Brien stayed in a 6-person room, with a private en suite bathroom, bunking with a friend and an acquaintance for three nights. In addition to that, they were sharing the room with a few strangers. “It was still a little nerve-wracking, but after the first night we realized that our roommates were pretty cool,” she says.
One of them was a man from Australia and the other was a German man in his 30s who was backpacking through the small continent. “It’s totally normal in Germany to be in your 30s and go backpacking,” says O’Brien, “whereas in the US by the time you’re in your 30s you should be settled down with a family.”
According to O’Brien, security of belongings is high on a person’s priority list when they’re in a foreign country. “There weren’t any lockers,” O’Brien says, “Downstairs they said they had lockers, but when you get down there it’s just a shelf. So I just kept my things in the room.”
One thing that O’Brien likes about hostels is a sociable atmosphere, as opposed to a hotel, where interaction with others is minimal. “Everyone was really friendly,” she says. “If we were in the common room preparing food we would usually strike up some sort of conversation with them. There was also a huge bar downstairs that all the hostel guests would go to. It was a lot of fun.”
It’s easy to find online, and even better, it was only $31 per night to stay in the 6-person deluxe suite that Hollis stayed in. “This is probably one of the best hostels I have stayed at,” she says. “I would definitely recommend it to anyone who plans on visiting that area.”