What is the difference between a hotel and a hostel?

Hostels feature dormitory-style accommodation

Many international guests are familiar with the concept of travellers’ hostels, but inside Ghana or other West African countries, it may need explaining. In Ghana “hostels” normally refer to student accommodation or long-term accommodation. Agoo Hostel in Accra is different from the Ghanaian norm - it is a travellers’ hostel. hostelmanagement.com, the online global community of more than 17,000 hostel professionals & enthusiasts defines a “hostel” as “budget-oriented, shared-room (“dormitory”) accommodation that accepts individual travellers (typically backpackers) or groups for short-term stays, and that provides common areas and communal facilities”.

To be considered a hostel, the property must provide short-term, shared (dormitory-style) accommodation for individual travellers. Many hostels now also provide private rooms. The word “dormitory” refers to a room where travellers independently book individual beds in a shared room as opposed to booking entire rooms like in a hotel or guesthouse.

Hostels are designed for those travellers, who prefer an informal environment, rather than the formality of a most hotels. This is because hostels encourage more social interaction between guests with their shared sleeping and communal areas such as lounges, kitchens and internet cafes. Facilities are more basic than in hotels. Don’t expect freebie body lotion, shampoo and conditioner! You’re buying a bed, access to meals whether you cook them yourself or not and a great chance to meet other travellers.

If you’re a light sleeper, you might find other people’s noise an issue from time to time - others snoring, talking, returning late or leaving early. You might consider wearing earplugs and/or sleeping masks. Alternatively a hotel, rather than a hostel, may be what you are looking for.

You have to take greater care of your personal belongings, as guests may share a common living space. Most hostels offer some sort of system for safely storing valuables.

If you think you need more privacy then you could be better off in a hotel. Sharing sleeping accommodation in a dormitory and bathroom facilities is very different from staying in a private room in a hotel with en suite facilities.

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