What The Economy Hath Wrought: Hostel Stays
IKEA furniture, an eye-assaulting color scheme, and a bongo drum can mean only one thing: we're in an American hostel. It's Apple Hostel, a member of Hostelling International in Philadelphia's Old City, to be more precise. Unimpressed with the hotel offerings in Philly and determined to keep our entire weekend trip under $100, we revisited this institution of responsibility-free youth and got in touch with our inner vagabond.
Everyone may be familiar with European hostels, those dens of Aussie accents and pub crawls, but American ones done right turn out like Christian youth centers; in fact some of our roommates were in town for anti-gun protests. Overall, this was the quietest and least-partying hostel we've ever stayed at, and we've slept across the rainbow of hostels in our day, from bedbugs in Brooklyn to luxury in Luxembourg.
Simply having a hostel option like Apple in the center of a city with notoriously affordable hotels is something for which to be thankful. The difference in nightly rates between a hostel and hotel averages $130--and that could mean a whole lot of extra cheesesteak. In actuality, our weekend night cost only $35, and the hostel's proximity to all of the historical sites of the Old City combined with the relative small size of Philadelphia's downtown meant we spent very little extra on transportation and entertainment; the savings stayed with us.
While hostels still aren't for everyone, like business travelers and families, they are perfect for budget-minded travelers who refuse to be coerced by the economy into "staycations." What's more is that we didn't have bed bugs, and that's better than some ritzy hotels can say.