My First Hostel

Grace Worwa
April 20, 2022

I don’t know about you, but up until now, I’ve been a hotel and/or AirBnB type of gal. Even though I’ve traveled quite a bit this past year, I’ve managed to avoid hostels completely. The stories I heard just scared me too much: bed bugs, filthy bathrooms, stolen belongings, bunk beds stacked with creepy strangers...I know, sounds unpleasant, right? Even though hostels are much cheaper, I figured it was worth paying a little extra to have comfortable lodging and be able to fully enjoy my trip. Well, that all changed when I traveled to Mendoza over the long Easter weekend. 

I went to Mendoza with two friends from my IES Abroad program. There were too few of us to rent out an AirBnB for cheap, and we had spent so much on plane tickets that we didn’t want to pay for a hotel. Sooo, a hostel it had to be. We scoured the internet and eventually struck gold on we found Lao Hostel. 

You know all those terrifying stories I listed earlier? Well, none of them were true. First off, the story of bunk beds stacked full of sleeping strangers only has to be true if you want it to be. In reality, you can pay for private rooms and a private bathroom, like my friends and I did. Our rooms and bathroom were both incredibly clean, with folded fresh sheets waiting for us on the beds and no bed bugs in sight. We received keys to lock our belongings in our room when we left, and the windows in our rooms could be locked shut. 

All that was the first pleasant surprise. The second one was the homey atmosphere of the place. The hostel had an outdoor, garden-like area with a patio and a dining table, and people would hang out there whenever they had downtime. We talked with the two owners, who lived in Argentina. We had afternoon drinks with a couple – a woman from Germany and a man from Australia – and talked about everything from music to the Australian immigration system. 

We even had an asado (an Argentine barbeque) with two couples from the United Kingdom. One of the hostel owners used to be a chef, and for almost four hours she prepared a variety of roasted meat and vegetables while we discussed travel plans, talked about our jobs and schools, and compared U.S. and U.K. politics, health care systems, education, and social customs. It was eye-opening to meet so many people from all around the world, and I think that this social aspect is unique to the hostel experience. I never would have had that in a BnB or hotel. 

And then, of course, I can’t forget the dogs. So many dogs!!! Two pups – Naomi and Sunny – lived at the hostel, and one of the owners had about four or five more that followed him around everywhere. I couldn’t sit down without one of them charging over and plopping its head in my lap. Before this trip, I had been feeling very dog-deprived, so you can bet that I took this moment to splurge! 

As guests, we were even allowed to take the dogs out with us around the city. One morning, I tip-toed out of the hostel to go for a run and found Naomi and Sunny sitting outside the front door. Evidently they decided that they were coming too because as I took off down the block, I heard a sudden frantic patter of paws against pavement as they zoomed past me down the sidewalk. They stayed with me for the entire 40 minutes! That moment when you realize that the dogs are in way better shape than you…

My friends and I also took the dogs out together when we went for ice cream. Or at least we tried to. This time, we had Naomi and another dog named Patrick. We soon found out that Patrick was a troublemaker. He raced up to motorcyclists as they zipped by and nipped at their legs. He even went after a taxi! According to his owner, Patrick specifically has it out for taxis. I mean, why taxis? And how does he even differ them from other cars? 

My friends and I half-laughed and half-helplessly screamed “PATRICK!!” as he terrorized the town all the way to the ice cream place. As soon as we arrived, we took one look at the taxi-and-motorcycle-filled intersection outside the shop and turned around. We just couldn’t do that to the people of Mendoza.

My friends and I had an incredible experience at Lao Hostel, and if you ever find yourself in Mendoza, I would recommend it 100 percent. And, if you’re like me and are a bit skeptical about staying in a hostel, I recommend that you give it a try. Not every hostel experience will be like Lao Hostel, but there is no harm in trying something new. 

When looking for a hostel, start with a google search and look at sites like and There’s a million choices out there! To narrow it down, consider these criteria: 

  • Location - Is the hostel close to downtown so that you can easily walk to restaurants for food or to a Kiosco for bottled water? This is especially important if breakfast isn’t available at the hostel.
  • Price - This depends on what you are willing to spend. For reference, my friends and I paid AR $7,000 each (about US $35) for 3 nights in two double rooms and a private bathroom. Normally, private rooms will cost a tad more.
  • Room Availability - Do they have private rooms available? Do they have private bathrooms? Make sure to look closely when booking to make sure that you’re paying for, say, 4 people to stay in a 4-person private room instead of 4 beds in a 6-person dormitory. 
  • Reviews - Check out what past guests have to say! They’ve been in your shoes and they have your best interest at heart, so they’ll give you the truth about what to expect. 

When you’ve booked your hostel and are preparing to leave, don’t forget to add a few things to your packing list:

  • Quick dry towel - just in case the hostel doesn’t supply them. You can find these at most athletic goods stores. 
  • Bar soap for handwashing and shampoo - Hostel Lao did not supply either of these. You can always buy liquid hand soap at a pharmacy when you arrive, but then you won’t be able to take it on the plane with you. In terms of shampoo, I recommend bringing a travel size bottle with you on your trip.
  • Shower shoes - I stand by my claim that my first hostel experience was very clean, but that’s not always the case. Bring a pair of flip flops you don't care too much about, just in case. 

If you’re new to hostels, hopefully this helps you get a head start on your trip and makes you feel better about staying at one. Although it can be intimidating at first, hostel living is a great way to meet new people (and new dogs) and to save money. I wish you all the best on your hostel adventures! 

Click here if you’d like to take your own adventure abroad with IES Abroad!

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Grace Worwa

<p>I’m studying for a semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I hope to improve my Spanish language skills and learn more about the country’s women’s rights movement. I’m from the U.S. state of Minnesota, where I also attend college and study Spanish, Political Science, and English. I’m on a pre-law track and hope to pursue a career in immigration law.</p>

Home University:
Gustavus Adolphus College
Dayton, MN
Political Science
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