Myth Busting: Hostels – To stay or not to Stay

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A significant part of your travelling experience lies in the places that you choose to call home each night. Whilst you may not return home with wondrous stories about the incredible comfort levels hidden within the mattress, or the delicious breakfast you ate each morning – the chances are that you will always recall the things that made the accommodation terrible.

When booking my stay anywhere in the world I look at five factors. 1. Is it close to the main attractions. 2. Are the rooms clean and comfortable. 3. Am I paying a decent amount for what is on offer. 4. Will I have somewhere other than my room to hang out in the evening, and 5. How well has the space been rated by past experienced travellers.

I hope that by confronting some of your doubts and answering some of your questions with real experience I can bring you to book your first hostel stay somewhere.


1. You said: I’m not sharing a bedroom with anyone I don’t know. So I might as well just stay in a hotel room anyway.

I say: If you really don’t want to stay with anyone random then the answer is simple, don’t stay with random people. Booking a private room in a hostel is easy and will still save you a large amount of cash. Let’s look at an example I have stayed in –

Where we stayed: The Secret Garden Hostel – Krakow, Poland. 5 nights, two beds for £160 total.

For just £160 we stayed in a lovely private twin bed room with ensuing, TV, cleaning service, common room, kitchen area, and free city maps.

This hostel has family vibes – meaning you are unlikely to be awoken by noisy party goers at 2am in the morning. If you like your privacy and like being slightly out of the centre of town then The Secret Garden hostel is an excellent choice.

If you want breakfast included then you only need to pay a small fee for this, or why not pop to the grocery store just a 2 minute walk away and make your own?

If you opt for one of the many Hotels in the area you will notice ( with a quick search on booking.com ) that you will be lucky for find a room for 5 nights for two people, and under £350.

Choosing a private twin room in a hostel in Krakow saved us £190.

Secret garden hostel in Krakow Poland room with twin bed and green cupboards. This homely hostel got mums seal of approval with its pristine, pretty, and private rooms.

2. You said: Hostels are for young people.

I say: No they’re not!

Where we stayed: Basecamp Bonn – Bonn, Germany. Suitable for all ages.

This quirky hostel offers a very varied environment, and by varied I mean – you can stay in the train carriage a private caravan a tour bus and more, all housed in a giant warehouse of fun.

Whilst younger visitors might opt to stay in the entirely cramped tour bus, older travellers can opt for the privacy and spaciousness of a private caravan for the night. The hostel offers traditional fun boardgames for the younger visitors (not that it stopped us from playing) and a mature atmosphere for the older ones.

If staying in a caravan isn’t your thing then there are plenty of other options available for all the travellers in the world of hostels. All you have to do is set your preferences wisely when searching, and if mobility is an issue then check the facilities and the location before you book.

In the peaceful town of Bonn, Germany is this bonkers hostel. Housed under one huge warehouse sit a renovated train carriage, private caravans, and tour buses to sleep in!

In the peaceful town of Bonn, Germany is this bonkers hostel. Housed under one huge warehouse sit a renovated train carriage, private caravans, and tour buses to sleep in!


3. You said: I’m not sharing a bathroom!

I said: Whilst it can be hard to find, hostels with private bathrooms do exist.

Where we stayed: Villa Varich – Chumphon, Thailand private ensuit.

Ok, ok, so this hostel isn’t on Hostelworld anymore because it wasn’t technically a hostel, but as the owner was just starting out these private villas were placed on Hostelworld and for bargain price. It’s just so great not feature it here. This does however raise an interesting point about being meticulous in your search for the perfect private bathroom.Once again I urge you to set your preferences to private ensuite and searching for a decent hostel with a private bathroom. Who knows you might just stumbled upon something is great as Villa Varich!

Jemma and irfan outside selfie by the river on the swing in Thailand With the villas on the river front it would have been rude not to take a self on the swing.

4. You said: I don’t want to party all the time. I just want to read with some light entertainment.

I said: party hostels are all around but if you search with the correct preferences you will find a hostel that suits you perfectly without all the loud music.

Where we stayed: Easy Tiger is an incredible hostel located in Phong Ngha, Vietnam.

Whilst from the booking websites this may seem like an incredibly rowdy hostel you couldn’t be more wrong. You’ll also be pleased to know (for those of you that wanted a private bathroom recommendation) that rooms with four beds in one private bathroom or available.

Upon entering your room you will be greeted by tiger print walls, floors, bedding – you name it! The rooms have thick walls keeping all outside noise out. Scheduled musicians and other interesting acts play in the evenings for your entertainment whilst you grab a bite to eat from their yummy restaurant.

I also recall there being a pool, pool tables, and a theme of supporting good causes.

Hills and mountains in phong nha Thailand by easy tiger hostelThe entire hostel is surrounded by incredible 360 views such as this. You also get an awesome wrist band upon entry.

5. You said: I’ve heard stories. Hostels just aren’t safe!

I say: To date, I have yet to be robbed of anything, nor attacked in some dark hallway. I’ve thought that I’ve been robbed a few times by then realise I just dropped my things next to my bed.

Where we stayed: Asta Venice, Venice, Italy. The locker is under your bed, and bag storage options are available.

some hostels have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to security, but we were pleased to see that Asta has nailed the locker system. Although Asta has done a good job, always travel with a minimum of two padlocks as most hostels or not supply them for you free of charge.

Many of the newer hostels you will notice have cameras around the building and outside rooms (which by the way most hotels only have cameras in the lobby). If you notice any suspicious behaviour, notify the staff (as you would anywhere else) and you will be just fine.

Anda Venice hostel entrance sign. Modern Art DecoAnda Venice is the trendiest hostel inVenice offering security, young fun vibes, and funky decor.
Stopping for some grass to eat whilst on horseback. There is a brown horse called Charlie and a white horse called Tim.

Horse Riding in Bled, Slovenia

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The Build Up

Wanting to experience something different whilst in Bled, Slovenia I proposed the idea of Horse riding to Irfan. Excited to become the next John Wayne he agreed it was an excellent idea.

“You’ll ache so much” people warned us.

“You won’t want to do anything the next day, so make sure you have time to recover.” others advised.

Blissfully ignorant to the aches and pains of riding a horse, Irfan and I continued to live in the dream. The dream that we would be galloping around the mountains on our beautiful mustangs, reins in one hand, cowboy hat in the other, and slow-mo trotting in amongst the trees.

I had booked the experience online with 3GlavAdventures prior to leaving the UK. At just 50 Euros each for over an hour of riding we would have been silly not to have booked the experience. I found the adventure company via random Google searches. The reviews looked good, the prices were reasonable, and the horses looked well cared for. With no booking fee to worry about I booked it and paid the invoice a few days later.

3glavadventures horse riding booking , 3 glav adventures , Bled

Communication before the activity was great. We were both notified by text as to when the driver would come and collect us. When he was running late we received another update. The driver that came to pick us up was chatty and friendly, and turned out to be the son of the farmer that owned the horses.

He transported us up towards the mountains that formed the backdrop to our walk into the centre of Bled until we reached a small farm.

Jumping out of the car we were greeted by the owner of the horses. He encouraged us to say hello to the horses so that they knew who we were before straddling their backs and whisking them uphill.

Shortly after arriving another couple arrived to complete our party of 4. Knowing that the riding group was small which was a relief. With just 4 of us taking part it was nice to know that the two instructors would have their full attention on us if anything were to go wrong. Now came the horse assignments.

Irfan was given Tim – Tim was an elderly grey with lazy tendencies and a handsome head of white hair. He was also notoriously stubborn, strong willed, and would remain at the back of the line throughout the journey.

Ifran in a helpment getting ready to ride the horse called Tim around the mountains in Bled Slovenia

I was assigned to Charlie – Charlie was a big brown beauty with a tendency to stop and eat anything and any given time. If you let him have his head, the chances were that he would be bending down to find food.

Charlie the brown horse in Bled Slovenia being ridden in a yellow topMe and Charlie.

Time to Ride

Without any teaching we were hoisted up onto the horses. Instinctively (and i’m sure thanks to watching many movies with horses in) we all grabbed the reins, tapped the horses side with our feet and began to walk out of the farm.

Whilst exiting the farm we were instructed on how to turn the horse by pulling the reins one way or another. Having ridden this path many times it was highly unlikely that the horses would decide to go off course, or be diverted by our terrible riding skills.

Entering the main road locals and tourists stared at us. Children waved, and cars slowed to allow us to pass. Ten minutes or so later we approached a steep rocky hill. We all seemed to stare at our horses for a moment in fear that we may fall off backwards. “You’ve got this Charlie” I encouraged him.

Stopping for some grass to eat whilst on horseback. There is a brown horse called Charlie and a white horse called Tim.

Our trusty steeds made it up the steep pass and onto the small town road. As we all began to feel comfortable the horse leading the group began to trot. Our horses followed and the results were hysterical. The other girl in our group let out a little scream, Irfan and I clung on for dear life, and the other guy nervously laughed as we all bounced up and down.

We were given a quick lesson on how to rise up in the saddle and fall back into the saddle. This was not easy.

Stopping for a drink

Following our little uncontrollable trot we wound up in a huge lush green field. The horses knew that this was feeding time. We gave the horses their heads and they all began to feast. Nearby stood a small restaurant, and out of it came a smiling woman with a silver tray. Approaching us without a second thought she raised the tray beside me offering me a shot.

Despite not being a lover of alcohol I took the shot in good spirit. I was definitely allergic to the berries at the bottom of the glass, but not wanting to offend I drank the fruit concoction. “Nazdravyeah” (not the correct spelling) we all said attempting to sound Slovenian.

Handing the glasses back to the lady it was time for us to move on. We continued out scenic walk up to a small lake. Here, the leader of the group jumped off his horse before offering to take photographs of us all. This was unexpected but appreciated. After all, there’s only so many pictures you can take of the back of a horses head.

Letting the brown horse called Charlie eat some fresh grass. Nice hair Charlie!

The leader jumped back on his horse and led us up a small pathway and then down into a shallow stream. The thought of our horses navigating the rocks and slippery surface was scary. Once again reassured Charlie as the others reassured their horses. Luckily for us they were all sure footed and to reward them we stood a while in the cool stream and allowed the horses to cool off and take a drink.

Back We Go

The stream had sufficiently cooled our horses down but now it was time for some more sight seeing. We had been riding for a while now, and the stirrups were beginning to ache our feet. It was also becoming clear that our bottoms were bonier than we first thought, and why cowboys seem to walk with their legs so far apart.

This was that aching feeling that we were warned about.

Exploring through the trees up in the hills we all became a little cocky and begun taking selfies here and there. Everyone managed to keep hold of their phones, but decided that horse riding was best done with two hands on the reins.

The horses completed a loop of the undergrowth before heading back to the lush fields. This time we were to walk through the fields without stopping for a a snack. Charlie and Tim however had clearly not agreed to this plan and both begun fighting for their reins to be let loose. Being the push overs that we are, Irfan and I let the reins go and allowed them another quick snack before catching up with the rest of the group.

Taking a break from horse riding to let the horse, Tim, eat some fresh green grass by the pond / lake in Bled, Slovenia.

The road back was beautiful and sad. Heading back to the farm meant that our time with Charlie, Tim, and the others was almost up. We could have spent another hour and a half at least riding through the hills. The roads were clear so we all had another go at moving a little faster. We had still not perfected the rise and fall motion, but it was fun trying, if not painful.

The end is Neigh

Arriving back at the farm we dismounted our horses. “Oh my gosh” exclaimed the other two riders holding their knees. Still atop of my horse I looked at them confused. There was nothing wrong with my knees…  I jumped down from Charlie. “Ouch my knees!” I joined in. Somehow our knees had all begun to ache. This was extremely strange as the only pain we had felt throughout the whole journey was in our butts and our ankles!

We all stood on the ground a while and stretched our legs to relieve the aching. We now believed that we would ache the next day, but not from using our muscles, instead it would be from the bouncing and our bones clattering against the saddle.

We had all formed a bond with them over the past few hours and notably sad to be leaving them. Whilst the incredible father and son duo de-saddled the horses and took two of them inside Irfan and I stayed a while longer to stroke and thank the horses (as you do) for being gracious hosts. An adorable stable kitten came to say hi as the horses were allowed to run freely around the farm fields.

It was time to go. We reluctantly got back in the car and drove away from this incredible place. As we stared back out of the window Tim dropped to the ground and began happily writhing and rolling around on the cold grass putting on a mini show as we departed.

We were dropped back at our hostel and were left wanting to take up horseriding as a permanent hobby.

A panorama shot whilst on horseback of the mountains and the small pond / rive up in the mountains of Bled in Slovenia

Overall Experience

The entire experience was fantastic and really made an impression on us. Bled is beautiful, but even more so when being seen from horseback.

The horses were well cared for, the price was fair, and the owners were friendly.

Booking the riding was made easy by excellent communication, and the spot of wine made for a very uplifting afternoon.

We would definitely do this again.

Jemma in the yellow top stroking Tim the white horse before we begin horseriding around Bled in Slovenia