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Hostel, Hotel, Homestay: How to Choose Your Accommodation

Sometimes the most exciting part about planning a trip is finding the perfect accommodation. If you are about to head out on a backpacking trip, for example, you can choose between a guesthouse, hostel, or homestay, or you could even try glamping, camping, or couch surfing. If you are heading out on a regular vacation, then perhaps you want a nice hotel with a pool.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of these accommodation options — and tell you everything you need to know to make the perfect choice for your next trip.



What exactly is a hostel?

In a nutshell, hostels are low-budget accommodations for travelers.

Some hostels will require you to bring your own towel and bed sheet. But these days, most of them offer you a towel (sometimes available for rent), with sheets and pillows included in the cost. There is no housekeeping, so you’ll put your own sheets on your bed; often, you’ll need to return your sheets to the front desk when you check out. Most hostel rooms come with private lockers, so you will most likely have storage to put your valuables in, even if you’re sharing a dorm with fellow travelers.

One advantage of staying in a hostel is that you’ll often have access to a kitchen, allowing you to save costs by cooking your own meals.

Hostels are also social accommodations, meaning you can meet other travelers in the common room and join together to explore the city on a pub crawl or city tour.

Sleeping arrangements

In a hostel, you’ll usually be sleeping in a shared room full of several dorm beds. Some dorms are mixed, where men and women can room together, and others are divided based on gender. The hostel guests have access to a shared bathroom, which can be located inside or outside the room.

You can also find hostels that have private rooms with shared bathrooms, or private rooms with private bathrooms.

How to book

In general, Hostelworld is the best place to find your hostel. This booking website has a database of 36,000 hostels in 170 countries, so it’s a great resource for any budget traveler.

 When to choose a hostel

You should choose a hostel when you need cheap accommodations, usually on a budget trip. You should also consider staying in a hostel if you’re traveling solo and open to meeting new people.

While staying in a hostel comes with plenty of advantages, it can sometimes be difficult to sleep in a dorm room, especially if your roommates come in and out of your room at different times. One might party until 3 a.m. and walk into the room, turn on the light, and make noise while getting ready for bed, while another might set an alarm for 5 a.m.

If you have extra cash, you might want to splurge on a private room in a hostel. This should still be cheaper than staying in a hotel, and you’ll sleep better than you would in a dorm room.

For an experience that’s most similar to the one you would have in a hotel, you can choose boutique hostels and opt for a private room. These hostels are usually quirky, artistic, clean, and affordable — and they’ll help you avoid waking up in the middle of the night to find a drunk, naked man near your dorm bed.



What is a hotel?

A hotel is an establishment with any number of private rooms. When choosing your hotel, you should ask yourself if you want one that’s cheap, one that has a pool, one that has a designer chic aesthetic... The answers to these questions (and others like them) will depend on your budget and preferred location.

In countries such as India or Vietnam, you can get a hotel for under $20 per night, but you should beware of roaches and other creatures!

Broadly speaking, hotel rooms are more comfortable than hostels are.

Sleeping arrangements

Your sleeping arrangements will include a private room with a twin bed, double bed, or a king bed. Depending on your budget, you can get a suite with a sitting area, a balcony, or other snazzy add-ons.

How to book

The best websites to begin your search are booking.com and hotels.com. One nice thing about booking.com is that you don’t always have to pay upfront — and some of the rooms can be canceled up to a certain date without penalty.

When to choose a hotel

Choose a hotel when you want comfort, if you’re a light sleeper and you need your beauty sleep, and/or if you are not traveling solo. There are many solo travelers who don’t mind choosing a hotel as well, simply for the comfort. Others will opt for other accommodations if they want to meet people.

Keep in mind that you probably won’t be able to cook your own meals if you’re staying in a hotel, so you’ll need to spend more money on food, too.


Homestay or Guesthouse

What is a homestay?

 A homestay is like an Airbnb — you might have the entire house to yourself, or you might just have one room, likely with the owner residing on the premise. This option is great because you get to meet the owner, a local, who may even cook you a meal or two. You’ll also get kitchen access, which means that you can cook some meals, saving money from eating out all the time.

These places are often located outside of the touristy areas, allowing you to feel like you’re part of the local community. Bear in mind that, in this type of accommodation, it’s harder to meet other travelers.

What is a guesthouse?

A guesthouse is like a small hotel, often a converted home. You will have your own room with a shared or private bathroom. Often, the owner will live on the premises.

Sometimes, guesthouses will also include breakfast and offer the opportunity to try the local cuisine. Guesthouses usually feel more personal and help you experience local life, often giving you the chance to interact with the owners and their family.

How to book

Airbnb, VRBO, and booking.com are great ways to find these types of accommodations.

When to choose a homestay or guesthouse

If you want a more personal touch, you should consider choosing a guesthouse or homestay, especially if you’d like to interact with the owners.

From a budgetary perspective, this option is usually more expensive than a hostel and less expensive than a hotel.


No matter your destination, the right accommodation can enhance your trip even further. For more information, and to find perfect trips already planned by travel experts, head to Acanela Expeditions.

Written by Preethi Chandrasekhar