One of my favourite places in Japan is Khaoson Annex. It's one of a chain of hostels in Tokyo, Kyoto, Fukuoka and Beppu. I love the atmosphere. I love the people. I love love LOVE the price.
But on my last trip down it occured to me that hostels aren't for everyone. So here's a quick guide on whether or not you should go to the hoStel or if you should stick to strictly hotels.
Pick a hostel if:
1. You love meeting random people. You love hearing 7 different languages while you make breakfast. You're open to spending 3 days at a mega-concert with a dude you just met who sleeps across the room from you.
2. You're not an absolute stickler for hygiene. Don't get me wrong, Khaosan is clean. But I figure there's about 100 beds in the Annex. And there are 6 showers. Whereas in a hotel, it's just you and the other inhabitants of your room- and I figure if you know them well enough to share a room, you are probably a lot less worried about catching their toe fungi.
3. You don't mind a lack of privacy. In the annex, you can actually get a 2 person room. In fact, the biggest rooms are 10 beds. Some hostels have full floors of beds. Either way, walking around your room naked is a no-no. And you probably wouldn't feel comfy doing your morning yoga when someone might climb out of their bunk and put their nose in your Downward Facing Dog.
4. You don't mind the bustle. There are signs up in Khaosan about keeping quiet at 10 o clock. But even in the best of times, there will be noise. Coming in at 3 am, and trying not to disturb the others in the room invariably means you will trip and fall into your suitcase and a whole bunch of clanging will ensue. When we climbed Mount Fuji, my friend was miserable because the other people we were sharing a room with kept whispering or moving or coming and going. She's definitely not a hostel type.
5. You understand and accept the possibility of your stuff going missing. I've never lost anything at Khaosan. And I've never stayed in a hostel other than in Japan (which is one of the safest countries in the world, although I don't know why that should affect the tourists). But still the possibility exists that you'll leave your bag and come back to find it tussled through. There are lockers at Khaosan, and you can rent a cabin bed- which is an enclosed wooden structure you can lock. Still, it's nowhere as safe as it could be.
Those are a few of the considerations that I can come up with for staying in hostels. Do you guys prefer to spend the $20 and put up with the disadvantages? Do you love the noise and the camaraderie? Or you a Ritz-er all the way?