Backpacking Hostels vs Hotels and Guest expectations

Backpacking Hostels vs Hotels and Guest expectations

Backpacking Hostels vs Hotels and Guest expectations

This is a real serious time for the entire world right now. Covid-19 has thrown a curve ball at humanity and although, after some 43 days of lock-down, some of us are going stir crazy, I thought I might use the time to click the keys and try my hand at blogging. I picked the above topic because I work in the backpacking industry and more often than not have crossed paths with many guests who arrive at a backpacker (after booking a dorm room via the website or a booking agent) and look confused at their surroundings.

Dorm Room Riverlodge Backpack
Typical Dorm Room

The expectation is a private room with an en-suite and a high probability of room service.

Double Room Riverlodge Backpack
Double Room.

The reality, after being shown a bed in a dormitory with youngsters lounging around and backpacks strewn all over the floor spilling their contents, is where the confusion comes in. Many guests that book and see that the establishment boasts 2 or 3 stars are under the misguided impression that it equates to a hotel, turn down service and mints on the pillows. Many have even asked me what I mean by “backpacker hostel,” or ask, “what’s a dorm?”

I have to say though, that quite often after showing a guest around and explaining the difference between hotels and backpackers, one being the social aspect, they end up staying and thoroughly enjoying themselves. Stars are awarded for services provided by the accommodation. The better your linen, standard of the communal areas and fun activities offered, the more stars your accommodation will receive.

Outside Braai area Riverlodge Backpack
Outside braai area at Riverlodge

Reality means the state of things as they exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them. Backpackers used to be seen as a place for tattooed pot smoking hippy types with no clear view of their future, now, backpackers are filled with all age groups, tattooed or not, some of whom work digitally as they travel, some who travel to work in various parts of the world and some who want budget accommodation so that their experiences are more wallet friendly without losing the comfort. Our expectations were that the world wouldn’t tip on its axis, Covid-19 is the reality. Whatever your expectations are, they can be surpassed, and the reality is just that…reality. 

By Dee Heare 7th May 2020 

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