When I was younger I was the butterfly of hostel travel. I would pick the cheapest but the best sounding one and stay in them. I used to be quite talented hostel picker by the time I returned to Finland in 2014. When I moved here things somehow shifted. I found AirBnB and it has since slowly become the accommodation of choice. Which is why I got the idea to make a bit of an pros and cons of both types and a list of some of my favourites.
Pros of Hostels
- Meeting new people
The amount of new people I have met during my travels has been insane. Hostels provide an excellent place for banter and stories.
- Potential breakfast
In majority of the hostels I have stayed have I selected the option for breakfast. It saves a good few euros from your budget if you can eat at the hostel, even if it was just porridge and bread.
- Reception people to help out
I know this is a random one, but it really is a benefit that there is someone you can ask about the surroundings, someone you can leave your stuff to when you have checked out but want to walk around.
Cons of Hostels
- The other people
So, sometimes you want to choose the cheaper option and sleep in a dorm. Then you have 10 people sleeping in your space, one snores, one has sex in the bunk bed near you, one comes home late after a party and turns all the lights on, one cries because they miss someone. All of these have happened to me. I though got off easy, as in our backpack travel in Southeast Asia I heard of a girl who woke up with a monkey in her room. A monkey her room mates had bought!
- The noise
Unfortunately quite often with budget hostels they are not in the quietest areas. I do not mind sound but I know it is a nuisance for many. Ear plugs are an wonderful invention.
- Sharing showers
These have been probably the worst parts about hostel travel I know. When you have had to share the shower. As people, we are disgusting, and soggy. And it is an experience to have.
Pros of AirBnBs
This of course is your choice, but I always pick the “entire house” option on AirBnB. This way you are there alone with your friends and it is wonderful.
- The option to cook
This is a good thing for budget travellers and others too. Go buy your groceries in the nearby store and cook yourself breakfast or lunch at home in the kitchen.
It is a really nice aspect of a city to get to stay in a local home. It somehow makes the trip even more relaxing. Some hosts also decorate their house beautifully which is a big plus.
Cons of AirBnBs
- Photos lie
Not saying that this is not a thing in hostels too, but especially in AirBnBs people have gotten really good at taking photos that make their house look magnificent. When you arrive you never know if the flat looks the same. We have stayed in ones that are exactly the same, but also ones that in photos looked big and in reality were tiny.
- The key hassle
Sometimes the host is a pro and has the key somewhere near the apartment. Sometimes you though have to go pick it from them. And if your schedule is unset it is hassle sorting times with the host and organising meetings.
- The price doesn’t meet the quality
Sometimes this happens in AirBnBs. There are little extra fees that can put the price of the flat high and then you get there and it is the most basic apartment you have ever seen. It is disappointing.
My favourite AirBnBs
- Tiny and cute apartment in Kallio, Helsinki
This flat was the first AirBnB I stayed in. It was adorable! It was the perfect size for a weekend getaway. The toilet was small but that did not matter. The location in Kallio makes it also handy for travel to the centre.
- A stylish flat in Tallinn, Estonia
This flat surprised me as it was exactly what the photos claimed it was. It was beautiful, high windows and a good television. Nicely decorated with a big(ish) bathroom.
- Artistic flat in Tampere, Finland
My absolute favourite! This flat is big, it is filled with art, the bed is cosy and sofa in the living room is the perfect lounge spot for the day. It was a nice mix of art, retro and modern.If you have never stayed in an AirBnB you can register here.
My favourite Hostels
- A haunted and creeky yet amazing Castle Rock in Edinburgh, Scotland
I have stayed in this place probably 5 times. It is just so amazing. Still when I visit I try to stay there. It is old castle, it creeks and I was told it is haunted. I have met the loveliest people there, grown up on my first trip abroad years ago and learned about ghosts.
- An old cookie factory KEX in Reykjavik, Iceland
It had its own bar! How cool is that. It was just so lovely and cute and quirky. The staff were nice and the beds cosy which is all that mattered.
- Christian hostel Shelter in Amsterdam, Netherlands
When I stayed here I no longer was part of a church. It did not matter. The hostel is near the Red Lights district, it is filled with lovely people who might ask you about your faith but they might not. I met really nice humans here and the place was really nice.