Hostels and Budget Hotels: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

This post has been a long time coming. Since my trip to Barcelona a couple of years ago, I have begun to explore budget hotels and hostels as a way to make my trips more affordable. When I travel, I spend very little time in my hotel – usually I am just sleeping there (especially if I am traveling alone). For this reason, why not book a cheap place to stay? Here are some of my experiences.

Residencia Melon District Marina – Barcelona, Spain

The Residencia Melon District Marina (RMDM) was my first hostel experience, and I have to say that it was a great place to start. I was traveling with a friend and we spent under $100 a night while in Barcelona (which is definitely a deal anywhere in Western Europe!).  Here’s the good, bad and ugly.

Good: pool (most hostels don’t have them); private room for 2 people; cafe attached to the hostel; free wifi; stylishly decorated; free computer access in the lobby; they stored our luggage for free; shared kitchen area; private bath.

Bad: no room cleaning service until after check-out; one set of towels for the duration of our stay; one double bed for two people (I have since learned this is common, especially in budget hotels, in Europe).

Ugly: While we were very close to a subway, and not a long train ride to the city center, the neighborhood was not especially great. The hostel was HUGE which meant lots of people and plenty of them were drunk and made noise at night.

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photos from: http://www.melondistrict.com

Casa Blues -Arcos de la Frontera, Spain

Casa Blues is by far the most impressive hostel I’ve stayed in. It was more like a bed and breakfast! When traveling to Arcos de la Frontera, my travel partner and I didn’t have very many options for affordable hotels. We were trying to keep our costs under $100 a night and Casa Blues was one of the only places in this small town that allowed us to do so. It was amazing!

Good: Beautiful views; free wifi (although not too great); friendly owner; private room with two twin beds, great location (could walk everywhere); private bathroom; unique decor.

Bad: as previously mentioned, the wifi was not great.

Ugly: NOTHING!

Photos of Casa Blues, Arcos de la Frontera
This photo of Casa Blues is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Photos of Casa Blues, Arcos de la Frontera
This photo of Casa Blues is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Apartamentos Puerta del Sur – Seville, Spain

Worst budget hotel experience of my life. I will forever trust reviews on Trip Advisor.

Good: NOTHING; the price didn’t even make this hotel worth it.

Bad: Everything: location was hard to find via taxi; too far from city center to walk; weird parrots in lobby.

Ugly: Room was dirty; hair in beds; stinky air conditioner wall unit; toilet didn’t work; bugs in shower. My travel partner and I slept on top of our sheets, didn’t bathe and left early the next morning.

DON’T EVER STAY HERE!

Photos of Apartamentos Puerta del Sur, Seville
This photo of Apartamentos Puerta del Sur is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Encore Express Hotel/Hostel – San Francisco, CA

Encore Express Hotel/Hostel was a prime example of getting what you pay for.

Good: It was cheap; shared baths but private shower stalls; TV in room.

Bad: location wasn’t great; bed was uncomfortable; had to carry your luggage up a steep set of stairs.

Ugly: Apparently this hotel is over a recording studio, or band practice space, or something like it, so there was music blaring every night until 11 pm and then it would promptly stop! (Weird) Also, the hotel often smelled of illegal substances…

Encore Express Hotel

Photo courtesy of Google+

Kamakura Guest House – Kamakura, Japan

The Kamakura Guest House was a very unique-to-japan experience. The hostel was in a large old home once owned by a wealthy resident of Kamakura. It was a traditional home with tatami mat floors, sliding doors, irori cooking area in the common room and deep bath tub in the restroom.

Good: Great unique experience; felt like a true japanese house. Bike rentals were also offered for 500 yen onsite.

Bad: I slept in a room with 6 women and many of them rose with the sun which meant I only got to sleep in until 8:30 (not fun on vacation).

Ugly: Location. The guest house was over a mile from the train station and 2+ miles from the sites in Kamakura. I didn’t  realize this and decided to ride a bike around Kamakura which meant I got a good workout by the end of the day (2 miles isn’t much, but it is when you tack it on to both ends of 6 hours of sightseeing on said bike).  I wished it would have been closer to the center of Kamakura, so unless you drive, take taxis or regularly ride bikes (on busy roads) it could be a bit far.

Photos of Kamakura Guesthouse, Kamakura
This photo of Kamakura Guesthouse is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Photos of Kamakura Guesthouse, Kamakura
This photo of Kamakura Guesthouse is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Photos of Kamakura Guesthouse, Kamakura
This photo of Kamakura Guesthouse is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Khaosan Tokyo Laboratory – Tokyo, Japan

Khaosan Tokyo Laboratory in Tokyo was my most recent, and one of my best stays in a hostel with communal rooms. I shared a room with 3 other woman and it went flawlessly.

Good: Room had air conditioning, beds (futons are common in Japan); extra baths on other floors just in case but each shower was private; elevators; great location in Asakusa; helpful staff; shared kitchen; fun decor; brand new.

Bad: Can’t say much; if I want to be nit-picky… I’m not a fan of bunk beds, but that’s being really nit-picky.

Ugly: None.

Photos of Khaosan Tokyo Laboratory, Taito
This photo of Khaosan Tokyo Laboratory is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Photos of Khaosan Tokyo Laboratory, Taito
This photo of Khaosan Tokyo Laboratory is courtesy of TripAdvisor

So for all of you solo, budget or curious travelers out there, you can now see that there are ups and downs to staying in hostels and budget hotels. Sometimes you can be scarred for life, but sometimes you can have an amazing experience. Just make sure you read (and believe) other travelers’ reviews!

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One thought on “Hostels and Budget Hotels: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

  1. Pingback: Nikko, Japan | The Journey of My Feet

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