Yes, dear readers, this is today’s thought from me. After being a YHA member since I was 18, I really hesitated this year when my renewal time came up, and here are my thoughts on the matter.
Firstly, you don’t have to be a member to stay at the hostels. Each time you visit you just pay a little more. This means, that you have to stay roughly about fourteen nights in a year to make it worth being a member. There are also other benefits to being a member but they are almost all geared towards the young.
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Now onto the more interesting stuff… Would you really want to stay in a hostel these days? The rules have changed, you see. For financial reasons, did you know that hostels now are mixed gender? That’s right, all in together folks and in rooms which can have 10 or even 12 beds. When I say beds, of course, what I mean is that there could be six sets of double bunks.
My straw polling suggests that no one likes this, neither gender. There are hostels that try to avoid gender sharing and in the main cities, it tends to go this way.
There are reports of public sexual activity in these hostel rooms. I don’t even want to think about that! I must say I haven’t witnessed this personally, but here are a couple of experiences I have had.
There was the time in a remote hostel in Scotland when I shared a room with nine hairy bikies, (I ride and I am not against motorcyclists), a young Canadian girl, and a huge Romanian man. Think about it. The room stank, the snoring nearly blasted us off the planet and the Romanian man turning in his bunk reminded me of a landslide. The Canadian and I debunked to the lounge. Good move.
Then there was time when I had fallen and broken a rib (I tripped whilst changing my glasses, yes you may laugh!) in Seville. I had the top bunk and oh the agony of climbing up there, I was in a room full of Taiwanese who stayed up all night typing away on their computers. Perhaps they were trying to drown out my groans of pain! Did they offer to change bunks? Not likely, but then I didn’t ask. At least one of them helped me on with my backpack the next morning as I trudged off into 40 degree heat.
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Barcelona, this applies to any party city had partygoers come and go at all hours. They are preparing to go out as you are preparing for sleep! Then when you come into the room during daylight hours you are glared at for disturbing THEIR sleep. Related to this is the classic of party going hostellers vomiting into the communal sink after their big night (and I mean ALL night). Need I say more?
What do I want? When do I want it? Chant after me!
How about hostels for the impoverished but active over 60s traveller who is not in their 20’s and carrying six inch heels with a full makeup kit in their back pack?
I would love to see backpacker accommodation without bunks, with sleep friendly hours, alcohol overuse restrictions and cups of tea. Maybe they could supply slippers? Yes, I am kidding here, but isn’t there a market for a different style of low cost accommodation? Even Airbnb (www.airbnb.com) with it’s huge range, is too expensive for some of us.
There are great things about hostels, particularly the ability to meet lots of people with lots of different stories. The ability to cook saves buckets of money, and they are often in very accessible locations. So I’m calling out to all entrepreneurs… how about it? I’ve even thought of the name, MHA (Mature Hostel Association)!
Do you agree? Would you stay in a hostel if it was geared to mature guests like us?