Hi! Welcome to Complete City Guides!
My name is Patrick, I'm originally from Sydney (Australia) - and I love exploring cities (and writing about it!)
I work online in marketing, which gives me the opportunity to travel around the world full time.
So while I am away, I keep this blog updated with full travel info. I tend to stay in a city for a few months at a time, to really get to know it - then I write guides on it.
When going abroad you are often faced with the issue of finding accomodation. One of the most popular questions is Hostels vs Hotels. Do you want luxury, comfort, and peace and quiet (then hotel!). Or do you want cheap prices, socialable places that might be a bit busy (hostels!).
Of course that is over simplying the question of hostels vs hotels. There are actually four or five main options when it comes to deciding on accommodation in most cities.
Of course renting an apartment isn't limited to just Airbnb, but since Airbnb has taken off it seems anyone who rents an apartment for a trip does it via Airbnb. Also, a fifth option exists which is staying with friends, but unless your friends are spread all over the globe this isn't a realistic option most times!
Airbnb is a new company (founded in 2008) and seems to have completely taken over the whole renting apartment market. Whenever I rent an apartment, I will check only Airbnb (and I know of many other people who do the same).
They have two types of rentals available:
If you have never stayed in a hostel then you are probably imagining a run down, awful, smelly place full of people in bunk beds. Some are like that (5% maybe!). But as long as you check reviews you can avoid the worse hostels.
Hostels are great for meeting people. I would pick staying in a hostel rather than a hotel any day! People are in hostels to socalise (and save a bit of money!). Lots of hostels have bars, common rooms, they organise day trips, pub crawls etc.
Some of the hostels (I would say the top 15% - and it is easy to check reviews on sites like Hostel World, and any decent hostel will have lots and lots of reviews) will be as high quality as a great hotel (just with dorm rooms instead of private rooms).
Also a lot of hostels have private rooms (from 1 - 4 beds) with an ensuite bathroom. So you can get all the advantages and social aspects of a hostel without sharing a room with strangers.
Everyone knows what hotels are, and how they work. You pay a high price, get a private room. Hotels range from cheap 1 star places (you will probably have a nicer time in a hostel!) to luxurious 5 star hotels.
Couchsurfing is going to be the hardest one to explain to your friends (and even more difficult to explain to your parents, if you are younger).
Basically it works like this:
Also see our guide on how to meet people on Couchsurfing!
Although I have to be honest, the worst I have ever encountered when meeting people through Couchsurfing (or swapping stories about people's worst CS experiences) was mostly smelly guests or bad hygiene issues. But, always be safe and cautious when using Couchsurfing.
Of course it really depends on many things, including what the city you are visiting is like in terms of hotel/hostel selection, on how much you have to spend (or want to spend), if you want to meet people (in hostels it is easy) etc.
Let me know what you think in the comments below...!
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