So let's all get out there and travel more and open our minds! A large part of a travel budget often goes on accommodation as you need to be safe to rest and sleep to be able to enjoy the days. The options are expanding from large independent hotels, well-known chain hotels (you know what you're getting mentality), small B&Bs and even renting a room in a private home for your holiday. The one option I had never tried before was sleeping in a dormitory in a hostel so I tried it and can tell you there is nothing to worry about but being prepared definitely helped.
I can report it's anyone and everyone. It wasn't just young backpackers but also business people attending conferences and working in the city for a short time. Others were staying at the hostel while trying to find a permanent place to rent. There were all ages and all nationalities and we all got along fine with the shared facilities.
An en-suite bathroom is not common, unless you book a private room and then the cost is close to the same as a hotel so why stay in a hostel? You can expect there to be separate showers for men and women, and separate toilets too.
Your clean bed linen is usually included in the cost of your stay but you may need to rent a towel. You will be expected to make your bed for yourself which isn't as bad as it sounds and also gives you a chance to check the cleanliness of the area where you'll be sleeping that night.
There should be a kitchen where you can leave your food - labelled, of course - and where you can cook and prepare a meal. There should be somewhere to eat and somewhere to relax which might be the same place or might be a dining room and a TV room.
Some hostels have social events and some have bars and restaurants that are open to the public too.
Many hostels have wifi but where I stayed it was only available in the dining room and Reception which actually worked out great as everyone wanted to make Skype calls to loved ones and it meant the sleeping areas were quiet.
I chose a hostel on the edge of a city and without a bar in the building so I felt quite confident it wasn't a party location.
I sought advice from seasoned travellers and was grateful for these tips:
You'll be sleeping in a room with strangers and need to block that out to get to sleep. Always take ear plugs and a eye mask.
You may need to get up in the night or come back late so pack a pocket torch so you don't have to put on the main room light and annoy the others in the dorm.
You may sleep naked at home but you need to take something to sleep in when sharing a room with strangers. If you turn over in the night and the duvet isn't covering all of you, well, let's not go there but you see my reasoning.
Take a few padlocks as there may be lockers to store your bag which you have to lock yourself or rent a padlock from Reception. Some hostels have a small storage box by each bed so you can lock away your headphones, watch, etc.
I stayed for two nights in a 12-person dormitory and I'd do it again as I slept well and everyone was really nice. The hostel staff were friendly and had tips for local transport and sightseeing, and other guests were fine too.
So have I convinced you? Would you consider staying in a hostel dormitory on your next trip to save on accommodation costs?