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Travel Big, Stay Small
05th November 2016
They say good things come in small packages and this is true for Hostels.
With such a large variety of hostels around, in terms of size, decor and ambiance, choosing the right hostel may be mind-boggling. As a rule of thumb, I tend to go for smaller hostels when I travel, and in turn have opened a small hostel here in Malta also. Other than being easier to manage from a business perspective, smaller hostels tend to have more spirit and character, and are easier to integrate into, making you feel like you're more part of a travel community and less of a customer.
Here's 10 reasons why Small Hostels outshine the larger ones in my opinion:
SPACE. It's a no-brainer....with less people around you have more access to facilities and common areas.
SMALL HOSTEL BIG ATMOSPHERE. There's nothing quite like atmosphere in a hostel, and smaller ones tend to be teeming with it, simply because they don't attract the mass tourist. There's something about a small group of complete strangers, once they get get together, with a guitar and a few beers, that's magical to be around.
STAFF. It's safe to generalise here: Staff who run small hostels tend to be a little quirky and a lot of fun, and the beauty is that you can get to know them if you wish to, because they don't come with a name tag and are approachable. They know you by your first name, because you're a member and not a number to them.
EVENTS. Events like barbecues and hikes are more regular in smaller hostels because they're easier to organise and don't feel like one big school outing. Events are important in a hostel because you get to meet new people and you also get to see a less touristy side of the island.
HOME. Generally, smaller hostels are founded in town or terraced houses, so you literally have that 'homely' feel surrounding you, whether it's the beat-up couch in the living room or some rattan ornament displayed on the shelf..... It's exactly like walking into a friend's home, after she's come back from a long backpacking trip!
QUIET. Less guests means less noise and less frat-like parties, which means you get peace.
STORY-TELLERS. Backpackers love smaller hostels because they feel more like home, and after being on the road for months on end, many of them want exactly that....and you can rest assured they'll regale you with their travel tales.
FRIENDSHIPS. Since solo travellers tend to gravitate towards smaller hostels because of the ease with which one makes friends, it's super easy to strike up a chat with like-minded travellers, do things with them, and keep them around for life.
ODORS. If 18 bed dorms don't appeal to you, stay in small hostels.
LONG-TERMERS. Because of the social and financial aspects of staying in a hostel,many travellers can spend months on end living in a dormitory (long-termers would pick small hostels over bigger ones for all of the above but especially #9). Long-term guests are great to have around! They know the bus timetable by heart and have mastered all the tricks and must-knows in the hostel, which they'll happily pass on to you.
How to choose the right hostel
You usually can't go wrong with reviews on websites like tripadvisor.com, hostelworld.com and booking.com, all of which display reviews written by former guests who have stayed in the hostels. Depending on your hostel 'wants', (character, atmosphere, location, security etc), pick the one which is most suitable for you and book a night or two. You can always extend your stay if you like the hostel (depending on season and availability)
Pictures also tend to portray the hostel's interiors and feel accurately, especially those posted by unbiased guests on travel forums like Trip Advisor.
And finally, guide books like Lonely Planet and good old word of mouth, will bring you to your right hostel, or your right hostel to you.
If you're planning a trip to Malta and are looking for 'small', come stay with us at Boho Hostel St Julians.
Happy travels, and remember, there are times in life (though seldom) when Small is better than big.
BOHO HOSTEL ST JULIANS MALTA