When booking a room in a hostel you usually have two choices – a bed in a dormitory style room sharing with other backpackers, or a bed in a private room more akin to something you'd get in a hotel. Very rarely will you come across a hostel that doesn't offer both these types of rooms, which is great because it means if you don't like sharing with other people you don't have to! However, if you don't have the money for the more expensive private rooms you're not stuck! What I wanted to do in this post was really whittle down though which type of room was better. When you're deciding which type of room to go for in a hostel, which one should you pick?
Dorm rooms are cheaper than private rooms. You'll notice the difference most when you are travelling solo. To give you an example, at PLUS Prague, dorm room prices start at as little as €8 a night! A private room in the same hostel will usually cost you around €50 per night for a room fitting 2 people (€25 per person). Considering PLUS offer facilities to the standard of a nice hotel I definitely think the latter price offers a lot of value, but nevertheless, if you book the cheapest dorm room as a solo traveller you could be saving as much as €42 a night! For a couple travelling together you would still save around €36 per night in total. So dorm rooms win on price!
Although you save a lot of money in a dorm room, there is no getting around the fact that you get more privacy in a private room – hence the name! For the cheaper price of the dorm you do need to give up some privacy because hostels are only able to offer that cheap price because you'll be sharing the room with other backpackers who book a bed. It's as simple as that.
In a private room you could walk around naked if you so wish, put the lights on in the middle of the night, or anything else that you couldn't (or shouldn't) really do if you are in a dorm room sharing with other people. There is also the major benefit that if you meet another young backpacker then you are free to do what you want in a private room that may not be possible in a dorm! :)
All dorm rooms (at PLUS anyway) have lockers where you can lock away all your valuables so there isn't really any extra security issues by sharing a room with other people. For that reason both rooms tie on this one.
Meeting new people...
A dorm room is by far the easiest place to meet new people when you're in a hostel (other than the common room.) The reason being that you're sort of forced out of politeness to say hi whenever someone new comes in, and when you've been travelling for a long time you get into the habit of just striking up a conversation with anyone who comes into the room. The fact that you know you'll be sharing with other people means you know even as a solo traveller you will meet other people. If you're in a hostel which doesn't have good common rooms like PLUS does, and you are not staying in a dorm room with other people, you sometimes feel as a solo traveller that it becomes a lot harder to meet new people. It's certainly not impossible, but it just doesn't make it as easy. For that reason dorm rooms win on this one.
For me personally, despite years of travelling I still haven't 'outgrown' hostel dorm rooms. It is the existence of these rooms that have actually allowed me to travel for years because they make travelling cheap! Of course, there are moments when I sometimes long for a private room. When you're sharing any living space with other people you will occasionally come across someone who you really don't want to be sharing a room with! On those occasions though you can always just upgrade to a private room – which is why I believe hostels are better than hotels. They offer you the choice of both...