College Student Life | Penn State

Hostels vs. Airbnbs vs. Hotels

The Accommodation Showdown

Regardless of whichever city you are visiting, there are bound to be unlimited options in terms of accommodations. Usually (and often times unfortunately) the decision of where to lay your head at night boils down to one inescapable factor: price. The popular belief is that hostels are the cheapest way to go, which is true in many cases, but not always. This guide will serve to help break down the differences between hostels, Airbnbs, and Hotels.

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These are the most common form of accommodation when traveling abroad.

What makes them so appealing is that they are cheap, cheap, cheap.

You also have the opportunity to meet and interact with other travelers.

Because so many people pass through hostels each year, they are usually filled with brochures for all sorts of activities and outings in the area.

Another plus is that private rooms are available.

By the same token, when staying in a hostel you may have to share a room with someone that you do not know.

Some hostels are mixed, meaning a 20-year old girl could be sleeping in the same room as a 45-year old man which can make for an uncomfortable stay.

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And if that is not frightening enough, a shared room often means dealing with shared, unclean bathrooms. Theft is also a common occurrence in hostel rooms if you are not vigilant.


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Airbnbs are hot on the trail of hostels and gaining ground quickly.

People are doing the math and realizing Airbnbs do not exceed the price of hostels by much, if at all. In fact, they sometimes are cheaper to stay in than hostels.

Guests have the options of renting out an entire Airbnb, or just a private room. This provides travelers with a homey feeling, especially since they are free to cook in the home’s kitchen (which also helps save money!).

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Airbnbs allow you to feel immersed in the culture; as if you owned a house in whatever city you are visiting.

Another huge bonus is that you can book directly from your phone and can also look over previous renters’ reviews to ensure that you know what you are getting into.

However, there are some downfalls. If you want a better location, you will have to pay more, which is where prices begin to add up. Because it is an actual home that you are staying in, typically you have to dispose of the trash yourself, which is more difficult than it sounds (have you ever walked around Prague with a bag of garbage?). And unlike hostels, there is little or no interaction with other travelers.


If you really want to feel like a king or a queen, book yourself a hotel room.

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In terms of luxury, this lodging surpasses all the others. Who doesn’t want accommodations that include clean sheets, towels and a bathroom all to themselves?

Another bonus is that hotels can usually provide good deals on nearby attractions (museums, tours, etc.) and are typically situated in centralized locations.

Another added plus is that if there is an early check out time, the hotel staff will hold your luggage for you so that you are free to go exploring for the day.

However, there are some cons.

Hotels can be expensive. Obviously, the more upscale the hotel, the higher the price.

There is also limited interaction with fellow travelers- people tend to keep to themselves more.

It is also important to keep in mind that hotels are not always the same in person as they appear to be in their online ads. Fortunately in most cases, with hostels and Airbnbs, what you see is usually what you get.

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And the winner is…… AIRBNBS!

Taking into account the pros and cons of the other contenders, Airbnb takes home the gold. This truly is the new age of travel. Airbnbs are available in hundreds of cities and are generally kind to a traveler’s budget.

They are unique in that they can give you a true sense of what it is like to live in the city that you are visiting. So before you settle for that hostel or book that pricey hotel, see what Airbnbs can offer you. Chances are you will be pleasantly surprised.

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Amanda Hackney

Pennsylvania State University | 9 stories

Amanda Hackney is a public relations major and international studies minor at Penn State University. She spent her second semester of junior year abroad in Dublin, Ireland. When she is not exploring the world, Amanda can be found curled up with a good book, hanging out with friends or baking fabulous cakes in her kitchen. Follow her on Instagram @amanda_hackney and Twitter @hackcittty

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