Tips for a Pleasant Stay in a Hostel

Tips for a Pleasant Stay in a Hostel

I realized that perhaps I should follow up on a previous post, Hostel Etiquette with a few things I look for in a hostel.While searching for a house in Nicaragua, I had been staying in hostels to keep expenses low. I have always preferred hostels over hotels. Hostels provide a very economical way to travel. I would rather spend my money on adventure and producing memories rather than a posh place sleep.

Hostels provide much more than just a place to sleep. Do your research and find a hostel that fits your needs. I’ve stayed in many hostels based strictly on price. Normally I would say, “you get what you pay for,” but that isn’t always the case. I do, however, keep my expectations reasonable.

There are several other factors to consider. I have focused on a few things that I have found to be most helpful.

Price – I do take cost into consideration, some places were decent enough, while others were, well, too cheap, as it turned out. I’ve also stayed in others that were more expensive though I didn’t feel like I got a good return for my investment. Base your decision on more than just price alone.

Léon, guesthouse, al Sole

Al Sole Guesthouse offers daily, weekly, and monthly rates.

Location – The most important thing for any business is “Location, Location, Location”. Is the hostel in a central location? Can you walk to many of the local attractions or do you have to rely on public transportation or tour companies to get there? I like to walk a lot. I prefer to stay near the city center. I feel like I get a better feel of the place.

Leon cathedral, hostels, travel, attractions

Atmosphere – One of the first things that I want to know is if the hostel has a bar. If yes, then I don’t book. I do like a drink, but when I’m done drinking I want to able to lay down, relax, and go to bed. If the hostel offers full bar service, this usually means “party hostel”. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it just isn’t the vibe I’m looking for. Most hostels are located near bars or clubs, if I’m in the mood for a drink. Most hostels sell beer and soft drinks that can be purchased in the reception area. Drinking does not mean party. Most guests imbibe when their budgets allow. I enjoy at least a night cap, but I don’t want to stay in a place where people are doing shots off the bar and drinking until they throw up, I’m not in college anymore.


Bonanoz Surf and Guesthouse, León

Amenities – What a hostel offers will vary greatly from place to place. Price per bed doesn’t always equate. Do they have pool? Is breakfast included? Do they offer laundry service? I always travel with my own soap and towel. Again, do your homework. Some places offer towels for free while others charge a fee for them. In my experience, most hostels have bathroom necessities for sale, but it is cheaper to purchase or bring your own. Sometimes you are paying a premium for a convenient location or because it is peak season. Websites like apps Hostelworld and are good places to start your search. I recommend reading the comments to see what other travelers have to say about their experience.

Hostel, tips, Nicaragua

Surfing Turtle León


Kitchen at Surfing Turtle

Cleanliness – Inexpensive does not have to mean dirty and unkept. Ask to see the rooms, the bathrooms, the showers,  and commons areas before booking. Personally, one of my biggest concerns is the bed to bathroom/shower ratio.  Too many beds and too few bathrooms means congestion and long waits during peaks hours. While were talking about the shower, bring a pair of flip-flops or tongs or water shoes. Bathrooms can vary in cleanliness, especially when your co-habitating with people who pride themselves on not showering for days.


I’ve seen worse.

Wi-Fi – Most places nowadays offer free wi-fi. Depending on the number of guests, who often have multiple devices, service can be sluggish at times. In my experience, I’ve found that it is usually sufficient to check emails, load web pages, and FaceTime back home. Inadvertently, there is always that one guy that is trying to download music and/or movies to watch on his long bus trip across the border.

Miscellaneous – In hot climates most places will offer a fan. I have yet to find a hostel with air-conditioning. At least in parts of Central America, the sinks and showers only have one setting for water – cool, not cold, but definitely not hot.

If you have trouble sleeping in strange places, bring ear plugs and/or eye shades. People snore, fart, cough, and sneeze. Rude bunk mates talk on their phones or to each other while others a trying to sleep. I’ve even slept in rooms were people were having “relations”. WTF!



Even though I may be thousands of miles from home, I still like to enjoy some of its comforts. The overall vibe of the place has to be pleasant. If I don’t like where I am at, I check out and move on.

Have any tips? Horror stories?

Viva León, Jodido!

2 Comments on “Tips for a Pleasant Stay in a Hostel

  1. Interesting! The insight of how a hotel having a bar and the kind of atmosphere it would create is one I wouldn’t have thought of. Keen!


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