Hostels v BnB; which should you choose?

Hostels v BnB; which should you choose?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 03/06/2020

Reading time: 4 mins

When holidaying, one of the biggest questions we ask ourselves is where to stay. Do you splurge on a fancy hotel, or perhaps you want to give camping a go?

It can be hard to choose what type of accommodation to choose from when you’re holidaying but knowing more about where you’re visiting can help decide. The two most common choices in Cairns are hostels and Bed and Breakfasts. Each has their own benefits and fallbacks, so we’ve created a little comparison page for you below.

Fellow guests

Fellow guests can make or break a holiday sometimes, and we all have preferences for the types of people we want to meet with.

  • Hostels

    Generally speaking, hostels have quite a young demographic. Backpackers and uni students are most likely to be staying in hostels. This can often lead to later, louder nights and a ‘rowdy’ atmosphere. However, hostels are also very communal, meaning you’re likely to have plenty of people to chat with. You might even end up making some lifelong friends here!

  • BnBs

    BnBs are more family-friendly than hostels, so you’ll find the people here are more diverse in age (think from young families to retirees on a summer vacation). Most people at a BnB aren’t interested in getting to know others and you’ll likely get some funny looks if you start trying to make friends with the people staying in the next room.

Sleeping arrangements

Speaking of rooms, perhaps the biggest difference between hostels and BnBs are the sleeping arrangements. It’s super important to think about sleeping arrangements when you book your trip, as the last thing you want is to be cranky all day after a bad night sleep!

  • Hostels

    Hostels bread and butter sleeping arrangements are dormitories. Dormitories are large rooms filled with bunk beds, you’re paying to occupy a bed rather than a room. Dorms can range in size, some are small, with just four beds, while others sleep a mammoth 28 people.

    Dorms can be either mixed or female-only and offer the most basic of accommodation. Most dorms will provide you with a small locker to keep your things in, however, you will need to remember to bring your own padlock to keep your belongings safe. You should also remember that hostels have shared bathrooms.

  • BnBs

    When staying at a BnB you’ll have your room. In this regard, BnBs are very similar to hotels. You’ll have a private room with your own space and bathroom. Additionally, you will not need to worry about locking up your belongings as you will be the only one with access to your room.

    Some BnB rooms even have small kitchenettes and tables to sit at, providing you with a fully self-contained experience.

    BnBs will also have the choice of bed arrangement to suit your travel needs. This could include one queen bed, twin share singles, or both in family rooms. Overall your privacy is much better when in a BnB, plus you don’t need to worry about sharing a bathroom with 20 strangers!


Price is an unavoidable consideration for any travel plans. Most people will have a budget for their trip and who wants to blow it all on accommodation instead of awesome experiences!

  • Hostels

    Hostels are notoriously cheap. That’s why they’re so loved by young people!

    If you’re not planning on spending much time in your accommodation and have a small budget, then hostels are the perfect place for you. You can generally get a bed in a hostel in Cairns for under $25 a night!

    However, be sure to look out for any hidden extra costs. Some hostels will charge you for bedding and towels. Bedding costs are generally unavoidable, however, if you’re able to bring a towel with you it’ll save you a few bucks at each hostel.

  • BnBs

    As BnBs are a full-service type of accommodation you’re expected to pay a bit more than you would at a hostel. An average night will cost you $150. That includes private accommodation for two people, all bed linen and towels, and breakfast the next day.

    Additionally, BnBs are usually newer, cleaner and fresher than hostels.

Hopefully, this little list has helped you to decide which type of accommodation you might seek out for your Cairns trip!

Related article: Where to stay in Port Douglas?

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.

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