Hostel vs. Hotel
One of the great things about staying at a hostel vs. a hotel is how much more relaxing it is. I think it has to do partly with expectations. When you stay at a fancy hotel, you expect everything to be perfect – room décor, staff and food. As a result everybody seems to be a bit stiff, trying to make a good impression both the uniformed staff and the other guests. When people sit in a hotel lounge, rarely does anybody already in a conversation invite a stranger sitting near them to join in a conversation – yet this is a common occurrence at Hostel Suites.
The hostel is like being at home - people slouching on the couch watching TV, (usually soccer), others on their laptops and still others are in the kitchen/dining room. In the morning, people came down for breakfast in their sweat pants and t-shirts, wet hair and no make-up. I didn’t live in residence at university but I imagine pretty much the same scenario. Everyone was relaxed. Nobody was trying to impress anybody. People mixed and mingled easily.
There was no menu at breakfast. Everyone had the same thing - a bowl of fresh fruit, a couple of pieces of toast (the homemade Black Currant jam was to die for), the daily feature (I loved the quesadillas) and coffee. And yes, you could ask for more if you wished.
There were no fancy omelettes, frittatas or eggs benedict, no espressos either. It was relaxing not having to make a choice. Everyone just seemed happy with what they got.
Unlike a hotel, there were no extra pillows or towels at the hostel. In fact one day (we did have daily housekeeping service) they replaced my towel with something that I would have thrown in the rag bag, but a request for a new towel was quickly answered and we moved on. The bed’s mattress was very firm and to my surprise, it suited my back better than ours at home. The sheets were thin but fine given Mexico City’s warmer climate.
The hostel receptionists did double duty as concierge. Every day we told them what we wanted to see and they would print out a map with how to get there (bus, metro or walk) and suggest what to see in the area or along the way. They arranged our day trip to Teotihuacan with a local tour company. They were as good as any 4 or 5-star hotel concierges I have experienced – always friendly, smiling and helpful.
When it came time to leave, they even had a fixed-price private car service to take us to the airport (35 minute ride) for $18 CDN. Our 18-day stay at the hostel cost us a total of $684 CDN – many would pay that for a weekend getaway.