My trip to Portugal & Spain was my first time traveling internationally without my family or the structure and familiar community of a study abroad program.
I’d never stayed in a hostel in my life; admittedly, I was skeptical. The idea of sleeping bunk bed style in shared spaces with strangers was as foreign to me as this country that had never even blipped my radar.
Then I got into a couple of travel blogs a couple of years ago, which opened my eyes to the very attainable possibility of traveling often without being insanely rich. I discovered the large population of young travelers and backpackers who frequent hostels around the world and rave about how valuable they are.
I realized the perceptions that I’d previously had about hostels -- that they were these sketchy dormitories and not up-to-par sanitarily -- didn’t reflect today’s reality that there are hundreds of excellent hostels all over the world.
Travel standards have risen over the years, and not only do these desirable accommodations exist, but they are incredibly easy to find and examine with the introduction of websites like TripAdvisor and HostelWord. When my travel partner Shana sent me the info about the three hostels she booked, I combed multiple websites for myself to check out all their recent reviews and view guest photos. I breathed easy reading nothing but praises for the places I’d be laying my head. I could thankfully assure my mom, a complete germophobe when it comes to public places, that I wouldn’t have to worry about cleanliness or bed bugs (hands down her biggest travel fear).
I touched down in Portugal beyond eager for this semi-independent voyage, proudly navigating my way from the airport to our hostel by Aerobus (only €3.5). Lisbon’s Yes! Hostel immediately felt like home. When I walked in, I was greeted by a smiling face behind the counter -- part of the multilingual, 24/7 reception staff -- who checked me in and gave me the rundown about everything Yes! had to offer.
There were three free-to-use computers near the reception desk, which was adjacent to a large open common area, complete with couches and bean bag chairs, a dining area lining the length of the wall for everyone to eat and congregate, DVDs and games, and even a big lounging bed. Everything about its set up conveyed a casual, inviting mood.
First things first after my long flight (with a layover in Switzerland) was collapsing on a bean bag, while waiting for Shana’s arrival and for my room to be ready. I accessed their clutch free wifi to FaceTime my parents and let them know I had it made it safe and sound.
The room choices at Yes! sleep 4, 5, or 6 people (or you can opt for their ultra-private room for only 2) with shared bathrooms in the hallway and the option to choose a female only room. We opted for a 6-bed mixed superior room with an ensuite bathroom. Our room was amazingly spacious. The most deluxe bunk beds I’d ever seen came with curtains for privacy, reading lights attached to each bed, and huge drawers under the bed serving as lockers. Hardwood floors, large double-doors that allowed natural light and fresh air, and luxury finishes in our private bathroom all made for a very welcoming combination of comfort.
The amenities Yes! boasts are seemingly endless!
The reception desk doubles as a bar, where guests can enjoy beer, wine, and other drinks for only a few euro, along with a free shot that everyone toasts to before heading out for the night. Additionally, we had access to its full kitchen and the freedom to store food and cook at our leisure.
For only €10 (a little more than $12 bucks) nightly, their lovely in-house chef served 3 course dinners, which came with two glasses of sangria/wine AND dessert. This was my favorite part about Yes! Other than the food being absolutely BOMB, it was such a fun time of the evening. We’d all gather together to enjoy the fantastic meal, European style -- relaxed and full of laughter.
Yes! was perfectly located in the heart of historic Lisbon, a charming, quintessentially old-European part of town. Just steps away from our hostel were metro stops, sightseeing opportunities, and a plethora of shops that I most definitely succumbed to. The people there -- both staff and guests -- were so cool and easy to chum up with. The shared spaces and group atmosphere made it so easy to start conversations with people from all over the world, and before I knew it, we were hitting the city together.
Bottom line, I really really loved my first hostel experience.
For only $25 a night, it was quite the steal. No wonder it had been picked as 2013’s Best Hostel of the World! It was a great stay in a wonderful city. I hope that my travels bring me back to Lisbon one day so I can return to Yes!
Do you have any preconceived notions about hostels? Would you feel comfortable staying in them?
Read the full story: My Graduation Escapade: Traveling Across the World with a Stranger; Budget Breakdown: What Two Weeks in Europe Cost Me; Charmed by Lisbon & Saint Anthony's Festival; Bar-Say-Lona Lovin' | Sónar Music Festival; Beaching, Biking, and Basking Barcelona; Island + Party Life: Ibiza Style