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Hostels in Sweden Posted by on Jun 15, 2009 in Culture

Yeah, it seems to be the coldest beginning of summer in Sweden in the last 50 years or so! Brrr… The calendar says one thing, but the weather – another.

Still, summer is summer, and as you’ve probably noticed (or know very well, if you’re Swedish) Swedes tend to believe the calendar more than the weather forecast. Why? The calendar is never wrong. And what about the forecasts? Well, we all know how accurate those can be…

However, we won’t let such a petty thing as weather stop us from enjoying our summer, right? But what can stop us from enjoying our summer are hotel prices in Sweden. Let’s face it, they’re high. Or very high. Even with the lower summer rates, it still can be too expensive for many people and families to go out and explore the country.

One alternative is to stay at a hostel instead.

Don’t worry, it’s not just an option for starving backpackers (though a month of exploring Sweden can turn any foreigner into a starving backpacker) anymore. Many hostels have private rooms, some with private bathrooms, even. Sometimes it’s hard to tell when a hotel ends and a hostel begins, because some full-service hotels turn part of their properties into cheaper hostel options.

If you think that as a family you can’t stay in a hostel, you’re wrong. Hostels (at least those in Sweden that I’m familiar with) know that families like to travel, too. Even families with smallish children. Therefore, don’t be surprised if you see many of the hostels here offering “family rooms”. And accepting pets (hey, some families have pets instead of children).

There are two main organizations in Sweden that run their own hostels. One is SVIF (Sveriges Vandrarhem i Förening – Organization of Swedish Youth Hostels) and the other STF (Svenska Turistföreningen – Swedish Tourist Association)

I like them both, and their hostels are pretty much of the same standard, both in terms of comfort, as well as price. Of course, in big cities you can expect to pay more than what you would in the countryside, that goes without saying. But even with that, hostels are a much more affordable option than full-service hotels.

I think that there are many hostel misconceptions, especially among Americans. But in my experience, those who were reluctant to try a Swedish hostel, but soon realized they couldn’t afford to spend every night in a hotel, very quickly came around to the idea of hostels and saw that this type of accommodation in Sweden can be of high standard, clean, safe and super friendly.

Both SVIF and STF have a list of hostels on their websites. And yes, their websites also have English versions. Which organization’s hostel you choose depends solely on you and on where you want to go. For example, in Västerbotten SVIF has only one facility, but STF – four.
And to that you still need to add a whole slew of independent hostel-type accommodation (not belonging to any association). So, in other words, pretty much anywhere you want to go in Sweden, there will be an affordable place to stay nearby.

No excuses! You CAN see Sweden on a budget. True, that budget may be a bit higher than in other European countries, but what other European country can offer you as much as Sweden, huh?

One thing you need to remember – room prices in Sweden are normally given per person, NOT per room! Keep that in mind, and there won’t be any unpleasant surprises later on.
If you plan to stay at a hostel, be sure to call and book ahead. Every year, seemingly all of Sweden and half of the world come up with exactly the same idea of cheap places to stay. This is doubly true in these tough economic times – there will be even more people competing for those affordable bunk beds, especially in the more popular areas.

What else can we do to travel in Sweden without breaking the bank? If you have any tips or suggestions, feel free to comment.

Today’s word:

  • vandrarhem (def. -hemmet, pl. -hem, pl.def. -hemmen) – enkelt ställe där man kan övernatta och laga mat, t.ex. när man är ute och reser – hostel
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