When you think of hostels, you probably think of young, single backpackers, right? Maybe so, but did you know that families are becoming increasingly clued in as to the benefits of hosteling with kids? And that more and more hostels are also welcoming young travelers and ensuring that their stay is a safe and happy one?
Brilliant Reasons to Choose a Hostel for Your Family
There are numerous reasons to choose a hostel over a hotel when you’re traveling as a family, ranging from the purely practical to the positively philosophical. Let’s start with the practicalities.
Hostels Are Cheaper Than Hotels
Traveling with kids is an expensive business, but hostel accommodations will pretty much always be cheaper than a hotel, especially in big cities. Every penny you save on your accommodations is money you can spend on the experiences that really matter to you and your children.
The Appeal of a Full Kitchen
If you have picky eaters, the traditional fully-stocked, shared hostel kitchen will be a sight for sore eyes. If your children are struggling with the local cuisine, no problem: prepare something “at home” instead. If you struggle to get them out of the door in time to find breakfast, no problem: settle for toast and jam at the hostel. If you collectively can’t stand another night in a restaurant and just want the feel of a home-cooked, relaxed meal, you’re in luck. For families where the children have allergies or medical needs, the use of a kitchen can be a true godsend.
Plenty of Space
Hostels typically have plenty of spacious, communal seating areas and hang out places, which are ideal if you have children who quickly develop cabin fever within the confines of a hotel room. Space to play, space for supervised social interaction and space to just spread out are invaluable assets on a family trip.
Child-Friendly Facilities and Events
Many family friendly hostels have facilities such as playrooms, or a movie room, which can provide plenty to keep your children entertained during downtimes. Even the most upbeat and tolerant children sometimes tire of travel and just want to relax—the opportunities for them to do so in a hostel are much greater than in your typical hotel.
The Cultural Experience
Hostels play temporary home to a huge variety of travelers, from across the world. Where else can your child hear so many languages being spoken, or get chatting to people who live thousands of miles away? With supervision and encouragement, hostel guests can unwittingly provide a fantastic cultural experience for your child – and most hostel guests are likely to be much more welcoming and tolerant of your inquisitive child than a stuffy hotel guest might be.
Tips on Finding the Right Hostel for Your Family
All that said, not every hostel is family friendly. Some have strict age restrictions, and some are party-oriented hostels where you and your kids just won’t feel right—or get much sleep.
When choosing a family hostel:
- 1. Read reviews carefully. Pay particular attention to any reviews from other families, and notice whether the predominant demographic of guests is suitable for your needs.
- 2. Look at the hostel facilities and events. If there are constant club nights and pub crawls, it might not be the best choice for you and your kids.
- 3. Ask about family accommodation. Many hostels state they have family rooms, often with ensuite facilities, but many more are willing to be flexible even with rooms which are not specifically retained for families. For instance, if you have several children, you may be able to prebook an entire six bed dorm, effectively turning it into a private family room.
- 4. Unless your children are of a suitable age, and unless you’re very sure that you won’t be exposing them to dorm behavior you don’t find acceptable, do book a private room.
- 5. Look for facilities such as a laundry, and check the lock out hours. With young children, you may need to choose a hostel with no lock out hours so that you can be sure you have somewhere for them to nap and rest.
Hostels aren’t the right choice for overly picky families or those who won’t countenance not staying in luxury. However, for the family on a budget or simply the family looking for an alternative to the normal hotel experience, hosteling with kids can be a very exciting adventure indeed—are you ready to give it a try?
This article provided by Hotel Bernina