When you’re trying to travel the world but can’t afford the luxury of a hotel room hostels are typically your next best option. While they’re stereotyped to cater for young party travellers not all hostels live up to their criticisms. I’ve stayed in many throughout my travels and have found most to be clean, sociable and above all, affordable. However, on a trip to Singapore, I opted for a hybrid of the hotel and hostel – a capsule hotel. Also known as a pod hotel, this style of living quarters originated in Japan but is now a popular form of accommodation among travellers. So, what are the main differences between a capsule and hostel? And which is the better of the two?
Typically hostels consist of different dorms, either separated by gender or mixed, with numerous bunkbeds aligned together and an assigned locker for each guest. Toilets and showers are shared along with a communal kitchen and often laundry facilities. Because bunkbeds are out in the open the downside of sharing a room with ten other people is the lack of privacy. It’s not uncommon for lights to be turned on in the early hours of the morning as your noisy roommates return from a night out. With a capsule, while the dorm layout and facilities are the same, most bunks have walls on either side and a curtain so no one else can see in. It’s almost like having your own little room within a room. If you’ve chosen a more modern one then chances are you’ll have lights, hooks to hang your clothes, and your own charging ports. While capsules don’t block out the snoring they are somewhat quieter and offer a safe place to roll your eyes in frustration.
Price may be the deciding factor when choosing where to stay for travellers on a budget. While capsules are, in my opinion, much nicer in terms of comfort and facilities, hostels do tend to be cheaper when compared with capsule prices. Obviously, this depends on the length of time you’re booking for as well as what city you’re staying in and which neighbourhood. Whether Wifi, breakfast, and towels are included will also determine the price of your bunk/capsule so think hard about what comforts you need most. E.g if you’re doing a big trip across multiple cities it may be worth purchasing your own towel instead of hiring one out at each hostel/capsule hotel you stay in.
Hotels rooms typically come with cleaning services where hardworking staff will make your bed and tidy your room daily. This differs slightly in hostels and capsules. While communal areas and dorm floors will be cleaned and bins will be emptied your bed is your responsibility. Of course each establishment is different and will vary in cleanliness (usually in accordance with price) but personally, I found the enclosure of a capsule made it harder to keep tidy, in particular when making the bed which proved rather difficult.
As mentioned earlier hostels are great if you’re travelling alone and are looking to make new friends from around the world. Chances are other people in your dorm will be planning to visit the same tourist attractions as you so it’s common to sightsee and party with your new found pals. However, if you’re more of an introvert then capsules might be better suited to you. Because everyone has their own “mini room” it’s harder to socialise and thus easier to find peace and quiet. While staying at my capsule in Singapore, I found my dorm mates to be a bit older, with most of them working or interning nearby. This was a big difference from the partygoers and drug heads from my hostel in Darwin, Australia…
Have you stayed in a hostel or capsule hotel before? If so tell me your thoughts in the comment section below.