My First Hostel Experience & How It Made Me Want To Travel More

Categories Accommodation, Singapore
Hotel Jan Restaurant

For my first post of 2016, I thought I would share a first experience: hosteling. Up until 2012 I had never stayed in a hostel before, and quite frankly never really knew what it involved, the etiquette, prices, room/sleeping arrangements etc. All I knew (or thought I knew) was that I was going to share a bedroom with some strangers and possibly get mugged or worse, murdered in my sleep. I can confirm it was far from that.

I was in the middle of my third year at university and my boyfriend, who worked full-time, asked if I wanted to go to Singapore and Malaysia for a week to visit his friend who was studying in Singapore and to attend the Malaysian Grand Prix. How could I turn down that offer? The furthest I had ever been was Spain (I live in Scotland). So I did the natural thing: took on more hours at my part-time supermarket job and saved saved saved.

It wasn’t until a few weeks before leaving that I was told we would be staying in hostels as it was cheaper and more flexible. My initial thoughts were just dread and fear. It was something I had never done before, in a country and continent I had never been to before, with cultures and customs I was ignorant to.

So the time had come, I had booked a my Saturday off work and ditched university for a week (still don’t regret it). Arriving in Singapore, our friend that was studying there took us to our hostel: River City Inn.

We arrived quite late and we were asked to leave our shoes at the front door – I was falling in love already. Staff at the front desk were polite and kind, and showed us to our shared dorm room (I was travelling with three guys so a mixed dorm was the best option). We dumped our bags down and rested a little on our beds, just chatting away to our neighbours, sharing travelling stories (I had none) and generally just getting to know each other. I couldn’t believe the relaxed and open nature of a hostel, and how there were just unwritten rules that you just don’t do when in a dorm with others. We met people from America, Germany, South Korea and Australia, and just talking to people who had lived and experienced a whole different lifestyle to mines really gave me a sudden urge to visit these places and do it all for myself; It was only day 1 of our trip in Singapore and Malaysia and I was already planning my next trip, with a thought about the people I could meet there.

As it was around 11pm when we arrived, we spent our night relaxing, playing the Wii console (although I think River City have an Xbox now!), reading, watching TV and socialising. I was in heaven, there was no way you could get this feeling and atmosphere staying in a hotel – we would be holed up in our rooms with the door locked. Instead we were in a homely hostel, swapping stories and playing games together in a communal living room area.

Before travelling I never knew what to look out for when booking a hostel, but River City Inn were perfect; they had everything from no curfew, free breakfast, free lockers with locks to free wi-fi and free linen. These might seem like basic amenities, but after travelling around the world and experiencing different hostels, I’ve realised not everyone provides these for free, let alone at all!

Not everyone can look back and remember where the exact moment they knew they wanted to travel, but I can. Staying in a hostel opened my eyes to a new world, experiences and people out there. And from now on, when I’m speaking to anyone that is visiting another country, I always tell them: you NEED to stay in a hostel at least once in your life, you won’t regret it!

Have you ever stayed in a hostel before? Did you enjoy it? What was you favourite part?


  • I have stayed in hostels in Sweden, Norway, Spain and France . It is really nice to stay in hostels. Barcelona specially is famous for its hostel culture and I had my best hostel experience in there.

    • Aw excellent! Yeah I’ve heard that about Barcelona, it is definitely on my to do list!

  • I’ve always wanted to go travelling, and I’ve heard so many good things about hostels (depending on where you go of course). I think I’ll just have to take that plunge x

    • Hey! Yeah I was terrified at first, but it truly was a great experience that opened up my eyes to a new way of traveling and getting to know people. And you’re right, there are good and bad hostels, TripAdvisor is a good start when looking. I highly recommend hosteling at least once 🙂

  • Pingback: Travelling Mistakes: Stuck at the Malaysian Border – life of gibbers()

  • Hey!!! =)

    YES!!!! I LOVED staying in hostels when I was travelling around Australia!!! It is simply THE BEST part about being a ‘backpacker’ and seeing a different country, you meet so many different people from so many different places, simply because you’re all in this one place together!! Amazing…….When i was in Australia, if I hadn’t of been staying in a hostel i wouldn’t of had any friends when I first arrived in Melbourne!! Landing in an all female dorm immediately put me into a friendship group of amazing ladies….I also got to experience Fitzroy because of signing upto a group tour of it in that same hostel….in the end it was just us 2 but it was amazing simply because of having someone else to go with…!! I still think of that memory with fondness because it was the last week of me being in OZ before flying home. Loved it.
    I am so glad i got to experience hostel life, because even was i wasn’t in a friendship group as such, there were always people to hang and play Red Cups with! ahaha……..another great memory!! >.< (just before the Robbie Williams concert in Melbourne…..!)
    I could go on and on about all the people I met and things i did whilst in hostels but I'll stop here and instead go off and read the rest of you blog….!

    • Emma

      Absolutely! It’s strange to think like you go to another country and get to experience it with like-minded travellers. I love that some of your favourite memories are with the people you met in hostels and it’s bringing back all the good vibes from your travels. Happy FRIDAY! 😀 xx

  • Really great blog post! Funnily enough, I also stayed in this hostel in Singapore, it was a really lovely place to stay. I remember my first hostel experience back in 2014 in Istanbul, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect either but it was awesome, and I’ve been staying in many hostels for 2 years since.

    • Emma

      That’s so cool you stayed in the same hostel in Singapore! And yeah, can’t beat the hostel experience! 🙂