Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Hostels in Oman? What do you think and who would use them?

One thing people always complain about are the prices for hotels in Oman. So what does my readership think about hostels (i.e a room with two beds that you may or may not share with a stranger depending how many persons you are travelling with, and shared bathroom and kitchen facilities?) ?

I am just curious, since, well, when I ended up stranded in Muscat, I was desperate for a hotel I could afford, and ended up sharing with a bunch of other Muslim girls, and it was very much like a hostel, and I was okay with it. But when one of the girls moved her boyfriend in (and she and I fought about him and how he treated her in general---not that I was the Queen of healthy relationships at the time) I had to move out.

So hostels? What do you think in general?

Who would use them more? Mixed groups of friends? Muslim gals  and other girls wanting to be safe and wanting to travel together but see the Middle East/Gulf on the cheap? Guys who just don't understand why all the hotels in Oman cost 30 rials or more--- which is like, a really nice bed and breakfast in the countryside Europe?


Suggestion said...

Bed and breakfast places would be better for the average visitor. There are already hostels for college students all over.

Tina said...

I'm a long time reader and thoroughly enjoy all your posts, therefor I need to congratulate you on such interesting and informative posts you authors here cover :)

Now to offer my two cents on asked topic:

I'd say that although the entire Middle East as region is extremely hospitable, people don't want to open up their homes in family run B&B style or a hostel or what is more popular elsewhere around the world lately, Airbnb.

So I don't know how acceptable would a hostel or a guesthouse be from local perspective.

However, from traveler's perspective, I think it would be an amazing solution! Especially for female travelers, if there was a female only guesthouse/hostel that would be safe, comfortable and affordable. I'm certain female-only tourism is still such an untapped business niche but with a lot of demand if marketed correctly.

I'm not sure hostels as we know them in the West or in more liberal environmnets would work in Oman (or other more conservative societies) as they tend to attract more openminded clientele which can be in conflict with Omani laws? (Not certain how punishable mixed gender/unmarried sharing of rooms or alcohol consumption is for foreigners, for example), so it would need to be adapted to local culture.

I saw recently that camping seems to be quite popular with foreigners? Could you talk a bit more about that? How do (if you do) families or youth travel around Oman if you/they don't stay in hotels?


Melissa Ortega said...

What a coincidence, I just booked one today!

I was in Oman for six months (Aug 2015-Jan 2016) with a host family as an au pair. I decided to come back for the summer as a fun trip with a friend of mine (both non-Muslims). We are broke university students so we are on a tight tight budget. We didn't see many options as some accommodations weren't the best AND they weren't cheap, or at least in our budget. Thankfully we found a place that seems promising (we'd share a bedroom/bathroom with each other and shared kitchen with others who will come and go). We're happy this options exists or there would be no way for us to spend the summer here. I definitely think groups of friends or couples on adventures would take advantage of hostel situations.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Suggestion: Oman already does have bed and breakfasts...they range about 30-100 omr a night depending on the season and the facilities (i.e with a pool) so too expensive for the average traveller:) unless they save. In Europe I get very very very nice bed and breakfasts and hotels for that kind of money you know? Or a decent hotel room with breakfast buffet in Dubai for that price... so it'd make me skip Oman wich would be a shame since Oman is way more culturally and historically rich. In fact I have relatives who own a couple B&Bs in Oman;). They charge too much for me stay lol. I am like, isn't worth that, even in this jacked up market...

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

And the hostels for students are only for students (the unis and college housing dept.s have to book them.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Tina: Exactly, the culture isn't very B&B style;) but a hostel doesn't need the family running it (an emmployee to show everyone to their space and book them, plus cleaning service, is usually fine).

At the same time, from a Muslim persepctive, if the hostel weren't seperate areas for 1.) couples/groups of close friends and 2.) single guys and 3.) single girls I'd be leary. As an owner, if you put a bunch of girls in a place where they got molested or raped it'd totally be your fault since you provided the conditions. So I was thinking as a business model, it would have to be grouped like that. Usually I am seeing the majority of budget travellers are single guys who are expats from other Gulf States, single girls (usually in pairs of two), or adventurous married couples or families (all the french tourist families I meet usually have 3-4 kids en two).

From my experience, I think the single girls market is actually the largest I see coming to Oman (Muslim and non Muslim girls) but I could be wrong. Might just be because I am female that they seem the larger denomination.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Tina: Alchohol is fine here for non-muslims but they need a license for purchase it (so tourists have to buy it from hotels and restaurants). Unless they have licensed expat friends I don't think they'd be buying that much.

Mixing isn't a crime, but again, if something happened to girls under your roof, you as a business owner are responsible. Omanis wouldn't in general approve, but then, the hotels are the same. Unmarried couples can stay togeter in Oman. I think it is more a safety issue. Also there are a lot of Muslim tourists (single girls in pairs_ travelling Oman). They wouldn't do a mixed hostel generally unless they were pretty broke and had no other option;).... and then they might just try couchsurfing and keep their fingers crossed for a female couch/room response.

Camping is popular but hard to do as single girls. Rentals, buying equipment... it is fine once you are a regular landed expat chic, then really we do it a lot... but as a traveller just coming with a backpack or suitcase at the airport and no money for a car rental (or no license) that's tough.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Melissa: That's awesome. Is the place licensed? if not don't say where it is, lol, the owners will get fined!;)

Yeah, I definately was okay sharing a room (with another girl) and sharing a kitchen and bathroom (though I prefer one bathroom to two roomates/female) opposed to a whole flat of people.

Melissa Ortega said...

I am not sure actually :O, I found it on Airbnb. Yes it's my best friend so (hopefully) it won't be a problem . .. . . .maybe lol. But the kitchen and living space will be shared with others (5+ bedrooms available :O). It'll be interesting to see who we will meet in a timespan of 2 months. Hoping for the best!

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Melissa: in Abu Dhabi I had a friend who gave us (two girls) her room in a hostel flat which was like that. There were families (with kids) in both rooms beside us, and a couple across the hall from the bathroom (which we ALL shared and there were like, 40 people in that place), and across from the kitchen a group of mixed (girls and guys) Philipino tourguides who were super awesome kind people. So even though we were two Muslim girls alone we were pretty safe. All the families worried about us if we stayed out too late, and the Philipino guys would make police reports (we were unlucky naive chics lol) when stuff went wrong for us outside the hostel, and the whole Philipino room and us started to share dinners (they cooked, we shopped and ate lol) since the kitchen was a tight squeeze and we didn't want to touch the guys actually. Their food was awesome!;)