Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Kasteel Well Blog: Hostel Life

Before Kasteel Well, I had only stayed at one hostel, and that was in Namibia, which is quite a departure from Europe.

After visiting eight cities in nine weeks, this is what I can conclude: There are some massive, “mega hostels” similar to a Hilton Hotel chain. Then there are the smaller, themed “boutique hostels” that resemble a bed and breakfast. Usually when I have to book a hostel I can guess which kind I’m booking, but beyond that I hardly know what else to expect when I arrive.

In Amsterdam, all the Kasteel Well students stayed at one of those mega hostels. The vibe: Ikea. It was very spacious, modern and clean, and there was a decent bar with happy hour. So it as comfortable as a hotel—except for the bunk beds—which gave me a sense of assurance that the hostels in Europe woudn’t be so far out, and weird. The only disappointment with this mega-hostel is that we didn’t get to meet other many other travelers and it wasn’t in the center of the city.

St. Christopher’s at the Mosaic House in Prague was the other mega hostel where I’ve stayed. This was a swanky place with a lounge and restaurant, and it even hosted a pub-crawl that took us to some of the most popular bars and clubs in downtown Prague.  St. Christopher’s was also in a central location and we met other travelers on the pub-crawl. Similar to the hostel in Amsterdam, it felt like a hotel besides the fact that it had bunk beds.

The boutique hostels I’ve stayed at were quite a departure from the previously mentioned hostels. Mostly what makes the boutique hostels different is certainly size, and they often times have themes. The weekend after the Amsterdam excursion I went to Edinburgh and I stayed at the Castle Rock Hostel, appropriately named because it was right next to the Edinburgh Castle. I bet you can guess what this hostel’s theme was. The staff was very hard working and more than willing to help with anything we needed. The hostel was big, but the staff made it seem like a cozy place.

In Porto I stayed at the Cinema hostel, which was another boutique hotel that was, as you can assume, movie themed. The Cinema had a common room that was really like an intimate community center. Anyone in the common room was willing to strike up a conversation, even the staff. On my first day, we asked other travelers and hostel staff what we should do in Porto. They went above and beyond and they gave us maps and then proceeded to draw all over them, marking directions and what were some free activities.

But my favorite hostel so far was Riad Mama Marrakech in Old Town Marrakech. Immediately, as my friends and I walked in the door, intricately and exotically designed couches and pillows in lined the walls. We were immediately served Moroccan mint tea and then the owner of the hostel (who was a graduate student from America) pulled out a map and explained all of Marrakech to us: what neighborhoods were where, what’s free to do (notice, this is a recurring theme), and gave us a head’s up of what places were like a maze and so we’d probably get lost. It was all too perfect.

It’s not to say that the staff at mega hostels aren’t helpful, but the staff at boutique hostels really go above and beyond. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of hostels, so it’s a really good idea to mix it up and try both types.

Similar Reads👯‍♀️