The Delights of Traveling: The concept of chain hostels
Chain hostels are becoming a big thing around Southeast Asia and the world because hostel owners understand the market and they know that they are achieve something great. I have stayed at a few chain hostels and I have to admit that there a definitely some pros and cons.
**Disclaimer** These are just my personal opinions, take them as you want but these are just my observations.
There is so much competition between hostels in Southeast Asia because there are so many out there but what makes people choose a chain one?
First of all, it is more than likely that they are more expensive than a normal one. Maybe it's because of the name or a recommendation, but there is never a moment when these hostels are fully empty. So, people are willing to pay more just for the experience?
A majority of chain hostels will claim that they are a "party hostel", which they are definitely not lying because they are wild. However, because that is how they advertise themselves, they definitely attract a certain clientele. I generally get along with most people but then there are some that when a little alcohol gets into their system, they become something else. Don't get me wrong, those type of people make the experience way more fun because they just don't give a shit about what people think about them, but when it comes to the basic things like trying to get sleep, not having to hear sex noises in the middle night, they are not your best friends.
One thing that I have definitely noticed is that while they can be really fun, it can kind of seem like forced fun. Because while other hostels allow you to decide whether you want to drink or not, but at chain hostels, it seems like the main job is to get everyone really fucked up.
However, there are many positives to chain hostels.
When I was in Vietnam I ended up staying at Vietnam Backpackers Hostel which is a chain hostel with about 8 different locations. I ended up staying at VBH Ninhvana and VBH Saigon and they are so vastly different which makes sense because Saigon is a crazy city and Ninhvana is surrounded by mountains and the beach. The one thing I have realized about VBH is that everyone became a family; staff and guests alike.
Another good thing about chain hostels is that if you were to book through one location you can get a discount for the other hostels. Especially at VBH, everything is pretty much cashless so they give you a wristband that you use to pay for everything and if you are going to go to another VBH you can just use the money from your wristband at the other place.
There also seems to be an expectation of the quality in these type of hostels, which is pretty awesome. No matter what time of day it is, you will see someone cleaning something. Like most hostels, there are always a bunch of activities to do and the staff definitely knows what they are doing and they are super friendly.
Would you stay at a chain hostel just for the name?
What VBH is to Vietnam is Slumber Party/Bodega in Thailand. When I was living in Bangkok, I met the owner of Bodega hostel and he was really chill and then a few years later, he started an empire all over Thailand. I have heard mixed reviews of the those hostels. Some people, the ones that like to party love it because they do pub crawls almost every night and they get you DRUNK, but I have also heard that while the reps know what they are doing, the cleanliness of the places aren't the best. But, if you like to party then get at it!
Finally, what I have realized is that as much as there are those people that annoy the shit out of you because of their drunkness, there are also more social people at these type of hostels. You party together, you hang out together and after a while it seems like one big family.
Chain hostels may not be your thing, but I would say try it at least once.