So, you want to save money and stay at a backpacker hotel. After all, you reason out — you are a seasoned traveler, there is nothing that will faze you and you will not part with your travel fund to pay for an overpriced hotel you’ll only be staying in to sleep.
This is my exact train of thought as I scour the hotel booking sites for an affordable place to stay in Singapore. It’s common knowledge that booking a place to stay in Singapore is not cheap, especially when you are a group of six trying to save a few bucks.
After a bit of searching in the internet, we finally agreed that we’d rather book in a back packer hostel. After all, we really didn’t have much requirements in a place: as long as it has a nice flushing toilet, it’s safe and relatively clean — we are all set. After much searching, we ended up booking Footprints Hostel, located in a quiet neighborhood in the fringes of Little India and about a ten minute walk to Bugis Junction.I obsessively read the reviews at Trip Advisor and concluded that the stay can’t be that bad since good reviews heavily out weight the bad reviews. The fact that a six-person room is going for SGD20 (PHP750) per person as opposed to the usual SGD160 for a 4 person bed in a 3-star hotel convinced us.
Booking the room was effortless and we only paid 10% deposit, with the rest to be settled in cash as soon as we arrived (read more on my TripAdvisor review).
Anyway, after a four day staff at a backpacker hostel, I realized a few things:
1. Staying in a back packer hostel is best done when you are with friends, not with family – Friends, the type who loves traveling and is the no-frills-type, who will appreciate the all-nighter drinking sessions or the fact that you will be in close proximity with other travelers. It is the young types who will enjoy meeting new friends or likely acquaintances. Never bring two senior citizens who cower with the sight of various nationalities in a place where the United Nations is aptly represented.
2. Manage your expectations – the fact that you are paying SGD20 for a bed to sleep in a country where the same amount is expected to buy you a full meal at McDs means you shouldn’t expect service of the Ritz. Expect to find dust when you reach for your shoes under the bed, expect to find a bleary-eyed foreigner slumped on the ground floor terrace clearly with too much to drink, you will find used tissues on the edge of the toilet instead of the trash can. Looking for things that are clearly not in the horizon will only make your stay miserable – don’t look for TV in your rooms, don’t look for super clean areas and do not look for the ambience because it is not existent.
3. Open your mind – there’s a big chance that you’ll see an old man with his foot up the table, together with his half-eaten bowl of cereal while two peeps (who seemed not to have taken a bath in a very long time) huddled on the couch plotting their next trip, you will share your breakfast with a lot of people that will not look similar to how you look. If you are not comfortable dealing with people that are very different from you, I suggest you save money and book a nice hotel where you will have less opportunity to interact with other people. Or maybe, you can save your money and NOT travel at all.
4. Use the net to look for the best choice – Trip Advisor is helpful to find out if the hostels are good and safe. Remember, no amount of money saved is worth the bed bug bite.
So, will I stay again at a backpacker hostel? Definitely. I might even go back to Footprints. I guess the secret really i keeping an open mind and enjoying the experience.