I used to really, really love me some hostels. Not always – when I went to Prague at 19 I was terrified of staying in a hostel as I had no idea how they worked – but eventually, I came to love them.
It was three months spent bumming around South America that did it for me; I didn’t care that I occasionally had to put up with some supremely obnoxious snoring, because I was paying £3 a night. And that was BRILLIANT.
So for years, I was a huge fan of everything hostelling had to offer. I had an ongoing argument with a colleague who only ever stayed in Proper Hotels, including when he went round the world aged 21. I told him he was missing out, that hostels were a great way to meet people, and to find out about good things to do, and to accidentally get your teetotal friend so wasted that she has to go to bed because she’s too drunk to read her own watch. And they were filthy cheap, so you then had more money with which to go to museums and Places Of Historical Interest, so it was a good thing all round.
And I still stand by everything I used to say to him. I do. I had a succession of brilliant arguments which should’ve beaten him to a pulp. It’s just I’ve now switched allegiances and am on his hotel side. Which makes me feel DISGUSTINGLY old.
The switch very slowly crept up on me. It started about two and a half years ago, around the same time I got together with my Farthing Wood Friend. Which is absolutely no coincidence; the switch from going on holiday with friends to going on holiday with a boyfriend meant that staying in an 8-bed dorm no longer held quite the same appeal.
So we started off with private rooms in hostels, because that way I could convince myself that I wasn’t quite SO disgustingly old and dull. Except that I was. And I am. The hostel that we booked ourselves into for our first trip together to Madrid wasn’t really a hostel at all; it was a cheap hotel. There was no bar. There was no interaction with other guests. There was no itinerary of Crazy Fun Things that we should be doing.
It was a massive relief.
Because it turns out that actually, I don’t really care about going out on giant nights out whilst on holiday any more. I actually would rather go to a nice museum without suffering from the ill-effects of sleep-deprivation and disco leg. And I don’t want to be kept awake by snoring, or to have to sleep in a bunk bed so small that I can’t sit up without braining myself on the slats of the bed above. I work five days a week and I want to actually have some rest when I go on holiday. I want a nice quiet sleep, and a comfortable bed, and tea and coffee making facilities.
But most of all, I really do not want to be the weird creepy old person hanging around the hostel bar trying to befriend the 18 year olds. And while I may still be just about young enough to not quite be that person now, it’s not long until I am. So it’s important I start going to hotels. Very, very important.