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Hostel vs Hotel – The Experiment

I did an experiment during my recent trip to San Francisco for the Dad 2.0 Summit. To save money during The Undeniable Tour which is coming up later this month, I thought I would stay in hostels instead of hotels. I used this weekend trip as a trial run and to compare the hostel experience to a traditional hotel stay. I spent my first night in San Francisco at a hostel near the conference hotel and I spent the second night in the hotel itself. Here’s how the two compared.

My hostel bed.

My hostel bed.

The Hostel
Until recently, I didn’t know there were so many hostels in the U.S. Unlike hotels that have a fancy front entrance, this hostel was a nondescript building that had the hostel’s name on the front door and window. At check-in there was a sign that said we had to show our travel documents (to deter homeless people and others who may try to live there). The clerk handed me my sheets, towel, and the key to my room and reminded me that I had to show my key each time I entered the building.
The Room: Tiny room with two bunk beds, a small sink, and a power strip plugged into the wall. One bed was obviously in use (rumpled bedding, suitcase next to it) and the other beds each had a folded comforter on it.
The Bed: My sheets were clean and soft and the comforter seemed as clean as any hotel’s. The single pillow was flat and made me wonder if there is a life hack for a thicker pillow for my upcoming tour. At the end of my stay, I had to strip my bed and turn in my sheets with my key.
The Bathroom: Divided into three rooms – sink in the dorm room, single toilet down the hall, and the women’s shower room with five shower stalls. The water in the shower was warm but there was so much air pushing it through the shower head that it felt kind of cold by the time it hit me.
The View: None from my room – just four solid walls.
The Price: I paid a deposit of $4-something when I booked the room online and paid the balance of $23 at check-in which included $5 to purchase a towel. I also had to give a $10 key deposit that I got back at check out.
Wi-Fi: Free public Wi-Fi throughout the building.
Roommates: I had one roommate when I arrived – an MBA student. We got another roommate around 1:30 a.m.
Amenities: Free coffee, tea, and cocoa available at all times; make your own pancakes in the morning; communal kitchen; communal lounges on each floor with tables, power strips, and books.

My Hotel Beds

My Hotel Beds

The Hotel
The Room: Two queen size beds, private bathroom, desk, table lamps, TV, and dresser.
The Bed: Beautiful white linens with five pillows on each bed.
The Bathroom: Private bathroom with more towels than I needed, a bath mat, and shampoo, conditioner, and soap; no issues with water temperature or pressure; no extra fees for the towels.

The gorgeous view from my hotel room.

The gorgeous view from my hotel room.

The View: One wall was a window that overlooked the Moscone Center and San Francisco Bay.
The Price: $199/night – and that was the special conference rate.
Wi-Fi: Available for a fee.
Roommates: None.
Amenities: Cable TV, ironing board, hair dryer, fitness center, concierge, and room service.

The hotel was about 87.5% (7/8) more expensive than the hostel, but I would not say that the experience was 87.5% better. I enjoyed the casual nature of the hostel and how friendly everyone was. For a person who is traveling on a budget and open to adventure, I think a hostel is a great way to go.

The Undeniable Tour will last fourteen nights and I will be spending eleven of them in six different hostels. I’m excited for the different people I will meet and the new experiences I will have by being in a more interactive environment compared to traditional hotels. I’m curious to see if my perceptions of hostels will change by the time I get back.

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