Are you ready to get rowdy? Image by Flickr user Mircea.
I’ve never taken a Buzzfeed quiz called “Which hostel are you?” But if I did, I’m certain of my result.
I’d pick Florence over Ibiza. My ideal date would be a movie in the park over dancing till dawn. And I would certainly choose Moscato over beer, pushing the automated analytics to the hurried conclusion that I’m the type of girl who’s taking this quiz while binge-watching Under the Tuscan Sun (for the hundredth time).
Under a colourful image of a plaza or museum would appear the declaration of my ultimate hostel style: the refurbished 20th-century guesthouse.
Unfortunately, that’s not where I find myself now, in Cairns, Australia.
As our cab halts at the steps of the hostel at 3 am, I’m certain I should have listened to the hypothetical quiz in my head.
For those of you who haven’t ventured into the frenzied halls of a party hostel, it may not be the time to start. Here’s how you can tell if you’ve passed your party-hostel prime (or never had one to begin with).
1. The clock strikes twelve, and all you can think of are pillows.
The upper terrace of the hostel brims with people. I can see legs and a row of hot pants-clad backsides hanging off the thin wooden railings.
“How are they still awake?” my friend asks.
In the background is a large poster of a kangaroo in shorts and flip-flops. His message is printed in bright yellow: Keep calm and party on.
It’s looking (and sounding) like the party will go on till the wee hours of the morning.
If your dorm is merely a place you can crash after a long day of exploring and not an “event” in itself, the party hostel will be the thorn in your medium comfort bedding. Or, if you’re a Drowsy Diana like me and begin counting sheep before a new day turns, in all likelihood you’ll be counting them for a long time.
2. You prefer your music flowing through earphones, not the thin walls of your room.
We walk up the red-carpeted staircase that vibrates to the BOOM BOOM of the latest club hit. An enthusiastic receptionist greets us.
There is a collective cheer, not directed at us. “Beer-pong night,” we are told.
For the rest of the evening, we’re forced to play a game of “Which song is that thumping through our dorm walls?”
The hostel’s very own club is one floor below.
Needless to say, if you are a light sleeper or do not enjoy being serenaded into slumberland by Swedish House Mafia, prepare yourself for eye bags and morning grogginess.
3. Your idea of organizing your belongings does not involve piling everything into a mammoth mountain of “stuff.”
There is a definite yin-yang quality to our dorm room: Our side is neat and organized – sheets folded, bed made. The other half is populated with piles of clothes, curling and straightening irons, shoes, and empty glasses.
And though it’s a generalization, and there could be clean, organized, and orderly 21-year-olds, the chances that you find them in a party hostel are akin to finding a perfect fit of jeans on the first try – rare.
If you like to party, check out these hostels. Infographic created by Sruthi Vijayan.
4. No amount of free alcohol will lure you into a dress and high heels at 3 am.
Most of the energy in a party hostel, post-midnight, emanates from the restroom. The dustbins overflow with lipstick-smeared tissues and mascara-slashed napkins.
I walk into the crowded bathroom to find all four mirrors in use. The glaring fluorescent lighting does not deter the row of girls and their prolonged makeup application.
Chances are that their days begin as your night ends. Chances are that the events blackboard outside that advertises Beer Pong Night, Sangria Saturday, and Buy-one-get one-free happy hours will keep them up far longer than you.
And as you try to force yourself into slumber, you will be interrupted by conversations that begin with, “Have you seen my black bikini?” and end in a loud screech: “Found it!”
If you would suffer a disturbed sleep over three-inch heels and would rather pay for your tame drink than pretend that your body can endure a beer pong championship, you might not be cut our for a party hostel.
5. What you hear and see likely shocks you.
Our roommate, Hoh, is from Hong Kong. She has been vacationing in Australia for three months.
“So. How old are you, guys?” she asks.
“Uh huh,” she mumbles. “So are you going to party tonight?”
We respond with an inconclusive nod.
“This is my last day here. I’m going to partayyy all night,” she says.
It’s 4 am when I’m awoken from my highly sought-after slumber, this time to a loud shudder. I’m sure it’s an earthquake. The rattling noise of metal is deafening.
I desperately scour my bed for my phone, ready to run, and turn in the direction of Hoh’s bed to see if she’s felt it too.
“Sorry,” Hoh and her male friend murmur in unison. I bury myself under the sheets.
The moans and sighs coming from her side of the room last another 20 minutes. Thankfully, Hoh checks out early the next morning, eliminating the need for an awkward goodbye.
Are party hostels really that bad?
They are fantastic, if you want to party.
Of course, age is but a number, and anyone who wants a rowdy good time, should have it; however, the usual party hostel demographic skews in favour of those in their late teens and early twenties.
Not all party hostels are the same – some party harder than others. But most are extremely vocal about attracting like-minded travelers.
Simply browsing though images and reviews on sites like Hostel Bookers can give you all the information you need. Apart from customer experiences, the reviewers usually provide their interests in travel, making it fairly easy to ascertain the kinds of patrons who make party hostels their home away from home.
If you do end up in a party hostel because of a tight budget or last-minute plans, come prepared with an eye mask, earplugs, and the patience that age has bestowed upon you.
You may need it.