Don’t get me wrong with this post. I am a big fan of the changes and I always support development and new ideas.

However lately I was talking a lot with my colleagues and friends who stay and work in the hostels about the topic of this post. The conversations and my own personal doubts inspired me for writing this post.

Recently in the travel industry hostels are the hot topic. If you follow my blog you might noticed already that hostels are trying to fight with the prejudices about them which have been in people imaginations since forever.

You might already know why I love to be part of the hostels. That’s why keeping up with all the changes in the industry is really important to me. As it influence my hostel life and work.

Past few years gave me the possibility to work in a different types of hostels. From the small ones through medium sizes with 170 beds until the enormous ones where you have more than 500 beds. They were different not only in size but also in their character: from the family ones, through the party type and for the surfers, to the luxurious hostels.

And it makes me wonder in what direction goes hostels?

The basis of the hostel it is to give not only bed but also experience. To create unique atmosphere, where you feel like at home and between your friends. That is the point that differs so much hostels from the hotels.

Lately we here a lot about how the hostels change, how their designed interiors and ‘hotel standards in the prize of the hostel’ try to deliver the new quality to the life of backpackers. And not only backpackers – even beyond. Because right now we are in the times where hostels try to capture also different type of customers. Businessmen and people who normally would never look for accommodation in the hostels.

So it is very common lately to hear from the guests: “is it really a hostel?”

Here is the point… even if hostels success and try to adapt, the minds of the people are hard to change. They will not care if they are in the hostel or hotel. What they want is a space, comfortable bed, Tv, wi-fi and all the things that they already have in the hotel. They very rarely look for the atmosphere and a way to connect with other people.

And for sure they will not want to hear excuse ‘sorry it is a hostel not a hotel’ as a reply to their complaints.

Working in a huge hostel brought new doubts into my head and makes me feel trapped between hotel and a hostel. A hybrid which I still don’t feel. For me it was always important that as a hostel staff I get opportunity to be part of the experience of the guest. And not only as a person who makes a check in and then goodbye. Eventually who needs to hear all the complaints.

You see this it the point. Where is the integration between guests, staff and a local way to live daily life of the hostel destination. Maybe it’s like my friend said: „I have the heart of a backpacker” so it’s hard to switch from the relaxed hostel feeling to a fancy kind of style.

I always try to treat guests in the way I would love to be treated. As a friends, trying to make them feel comfortable in a new place. So when it comes to the big, posh hostels you lose that feeling because people often do not treat you the same way.

Keeping low prizes (sometimes not even that happens) in the spirit of the ‘budget accommodation’ and creating special events doesn’t need to mean it is a hostel. Because as far as I’m concerned hostels apart from the shared dormitories should have unique atmosphere.

And from where comes that atmosphere?

For me it is obvious: from the mix of vibes of the staff and the guests. Both of these elements should share the experience together.

Because: The staff is not only there FOR the guests but also WITH the guests.

So when it comes to all those big posh hostels that are there: is it still a hostel or already a hotel? Or maybe that is a new kind of hybrid which should get a new name or label?

Should I stop to be so stubborn in repeating “yes, this is a hostel not a hotel” since I’m not even sure if it still is the truth?

Have you ever stayed in one of the big, fancy hostels? What was your experience? I really would love to hear your opinion!


Posted by Ewa Gabara

Posted by Ewa Gabara

Founder of Don’t Mess With The Receptionist. I geek out on hostels and I’m a long-time receptionist turned into a copywriter. I help the hospitality and travel brands conquer the world with words.

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