Shared Spaces

Accommodation types have exploded to house the swelling number of travelers in recent times.  From the major hotel chains of yesteryear to the economy inn, we have seen an influx of a variety of lodges that cater not only to the rich or middle class but to the budget traveler too.  One such boarder type is the hostel.  This housing brand caters mostly to a younger market, and those young at heart guests who prefer the ambiance and lifestyle. One that can be considered fun, easy, relaxed, and shared.  Don’t get the wrong idea, hostels are efficiently managed and have clear guidelines, but for the most part, the aura is inviting, warm and friendly.   For this post, I want to talk about shared spaces in hostels such as:  lounge areas, bathrooms, kitchen and sleeping quarters.  Of course, all that I will mention hereafter is based on my own experience, so as not to paint all hostels with a broad brush.

First the lounge areas are typically the hangout spots.  Guests gather there to socialize and talk of their adventures.  Friendships are made and travel tips are exchanged.  A simple decor usually gives the area an inviting and comfortable appeal.  Bean bag chairs and extra-large cushions, hammocks, lounge chairs, large mats, shelves of travel books either left by former patrons and other material lends to the aura there.  A big giveaway that you’re in the right place are young people huddled with backpacks or rolled up travel gear, power charging their technology.  Generally speaking, it is the meeting place for individuals, large groups and parties for meet and greets.  The front desk is set very near to this area if only to keep a vigilant eye on the activities there.

Next, the kitchen offers the independent wayfarer the opportunity to prepare a cooked meal whether breakfast or dinner (most guests are out and about at lunchtime).  On a first come first served basis, pots, dinnerware, stove and refrigerator are available for use.  Even leftover foodstuff, primarily basics like salt, cooking oil, sugar, etc., from past guests are at the disposal of any brave guests to use.  A code of honesty is understood by those kitchen operators.  I have never seen or heard of discrepancies regarding individual food stock.  Items are clearly labeled and rules for usage and disposal adhered to.  Kitchen clean up after use is mandatory.  Hostel management usually provides janitorial services throughout their establishment.  However, messy cooks are encouraged to leave a clean kitchen for other users.  Reminder “clean-up” signs are posted in this area and all other public places too.

Bathrooms present the most irritant for travelers.  Although cleansed daily, the showers and toilets are dependent on users to help the facility keep them clean.  In the past, if I shared a bathroom, I would rise very early in the morning before other guests to ensure I benefited from a clean shower stall.  I skive the thought of someone else’s bath-water pooling around my feet in a stall that may have poor or slow drainage.  Besides toilet tissue, hostels do not provide towels or other toiletries as most hotels do.

Sleeping quarters can be the toughest aspect of the whole hostel experience.  If a single room is not available, then sharing a space with four or more persons is the only option.  Some hostels offer dorm like settings, sleeping up to 20 persons in one large room.  Obviously, if you elect to sleep in such a space, it is expected you will not have much complaints for comfort, space or noise level.  For example, chatter, laughter, movement in and out, lights on and off, can disrupt the early sleeper.  Normally, each person is assigned a bed, given clean bedding and those on the bottom bunk have a curtain for privacy.  You may not rest your personal belongings on another’s bed and vice-versa.  It is not advisable to leave valuables in this particular space either (deposit at reception for safe keeping) since security cameras are not operating here.  Curfew times for lights out are maintained to give everyone at least a few hours rest each night.

Community Peeps, though hostels are fun places to meet other like-minded travelers, their success also depends on vacationers doing their part to maintaining a welcoming and inviting atmosphere.  I’ve gained travel friends and have had some of my best adventures staying in them on my limited budget.  Remember, you get what you pay for.  What has been your experience staying in one?  Please share in the comment box below.

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