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Why hostels are having a renaissance amid the cost of living crisis

Why hostels are having a renaissance amid the cost of living crisis

It doesn’t matter how many times an influencer tells you that “courage” is the only thing required to travel – it doesn’t change the fact that you normally need cold, hard cash. Airlines and hotels don’t care about our personal motivations and bucket lists, and travelling is – now more than ever – a luxury. At a time when food banks are bursting at the seams, millions of people have placed travelling in the “maybe next year” category.

I’m one of them – I simply can’t afford to go abroad right now. Even a trip to visit my parents in my native Poland must wait till autumn, when Ryanair tickets fall low enough to be within my price range. At the same time, I firmly believe that summer is for fun and making memories. So, one morning in June, I decided to take a day trip from Glasgow to Pitlochry in the Scottish Highlands. I initially planned on using a return ticket, returing home the same evening to cut costs. Then I saw a backpackers’ hostel on the town’s picturesque high street. I couldn’t resist. I had to check-in.

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What comes to mind when you read the word “hostel”? Temporary accommodation for people with no luck? Prison-like conditions? A horror film from 2005? In my case, the answer is community. At the age of 18, I began working in the funky and vibrant hostels of Krakow’s Jewish Quarter. What initially started as a way to escape hellish call-centre work quickly turned into the most fulfilling job I ever had.

Tomasz was keen to explore Pitlochry in the Scottish Highlands on the cheap

(Tomasz Lesniara)

As a result, my nostalgia-fuelled stay at Pitlochry Backpackers felt magical yet surreal. The pandemic nearly destroyed the industry. Sleeping in one room with multiple strangers simply wasn’t an option at a time when most people were meeting their friends and loved ones in parks for socially distanced walks.

Even the award-winning hostels I used to work in didn’t survive, and they were among the best in the world. Hostels aren’t just about a cheap bed; if you choose wisely, yours might be more fun than any fancy hotel. And trust me – I love fancy! But it’s a chance to meet new friends from all over the world, or at least encounter characters you’re unlikely to spot at the local branch of Hilton.

The hostels I worked in had a tremendous reputation because the…

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