A Reformed Hostel Hater

Brooke Fakhoury
May 1, 2022
Hostel in Florence

Hostels have a lot of red flags: living with strangers (gross), sharing a bathroom with strangers (extra gross), and half of those strangers being men (gross x3). Naturally, my primary judgement of hostels was unequivocally negative.

Despite this holy trinity of truths, I found myself rolling up to a hostel during my first month studying abroad. The appeal of an inexpensive long weekend in Florence won out my desire for basic privacy; even if I had a terrible time, it would make a fantastic story.

All my reasons for not staying at a hostel are still true. It’s strange to share a space with strangers, and even more uncomfortable to share a bathroom with them. It sends me straight back to freshmen year of college, and who wants to repeat that experience? But these things didn’t bother me nearly as much as I anticipated. When I’m traveling, I spend most of time exploring the city. I am only awake in my hostel room for the brief amount of time it takes me to get ready in the mornings and before bed. Funnily enough, I spent a lot of time in the hostel common spaces for the social atmosphere. From pub crawls to karaoke, there’s no better place to meet new friends! The strangers that made me hesitant to book a hostel are the best part of my stays. I love meeting people from all over the world, sharing travel stories and tips, and expanding the friends I explore a new city with.  

My two hostel stays, in Florence and Lisbon, Portugal, gave me different experiences. Ostello Bello Firenze was arguably cleaner than any hotel or Airbnb I’d ever been to, even though I was in a mixed dorm. The bunk beds were well equipped with outlets, a shelf, and plenty of storage. I can’t believe I’m typing these words, but I wasn’t itching to get home in my own space. I felt completely comfortable, and genuinely prefer staying in a hostel in comparison to other accommodation options.

Lisbon was slightly disappointing in comparison to Florence, but I think it was a more accurate picture of what hostel-living is like. My hostel was strictly a place for me to sleep at night, and I had zero desire to spend any more time there. Just because the hostel didn’t contribute to my experience traveling doesn’t mean it had a negative impact on my time in Lisbon. My basic needs—cleanliness and safety—were more than fulfilled, and since Europeans don’t come home from a night out until sunrise, it was hard to find anything to complain about in the brief hours I was there.

I know hostels can be an intimidating experience—I have a strong aversion to strangers, so I’m a trustworthy source. Despite the fear of the unknown, studying abroad is the best opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and stay in a hostel! There’s no other time in my life where I’ll have the desire to live with strangers when I’m traveling, so I’m happy I took advantage of it now. My biggest piece of advice, however, is to ask for the number of the cute Australian man who played cards with you for an hour. I didn’t, and I’m still thinking about it two months later.

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Brooke Fakhoury

<p><span style="font-size:13.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Helvetica&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="color:#333333">My name is Brooke Fakhoury, and I am from Southern California studying abroad in Siena, Italy! I’m a junior at the University of Richmond, majoring in English with a minor in History. Other than reading and writing (both in and out of the classroom), I enjoy hiking, cheering on my favorite soccer teams, and eating pasta. After graduation, I plan to stay in the East Coast since I’ve grown attached to my winter coat and would hate to retire it so soon.</span></span></span></p>

2022 Spring
Home University:
University of Richmond
Upland, CA
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