Will I regret staying in a hostel for NeurIPS'23 in New Orleans?
resolved Dec 17

I won the 'filter' track of the NeurIPS'23 Big-ANN Benchmark competition track:


and am booking conference travel relatively last minute because the results were only just confirmed.

There's a finite amount of travel grant money available to me, and my options are essentially:

  • Stay in an actual hotel for the night before and after my presentation, going to only that day of the conference, or at most 2-3 days

  • Stay in a hostel for $20/ night to attend the full week and hopefully spend some time exploring New Orleans

The hostel in question:

I have never stayed in a hostel (but have stayed in dorms in hotels while skiing, although that's probably an older crowd). I'm a friendly, amiable guy, and like the idea of meeting other people there (potentially others presenting at the conference, which would be an added benefit) but I don't drink or generally party, and I usually go to bed around 10:30, which is possibly unrealistically early for such an environment. My primary concerns are losing sleep and discovering that New Orleans is actually not interesting enough to justify spending a full week there, as people say there's not much to do besides eat, drink, and listen to jazz, which I'm not particularly into.

I will not bet in this, and will resolve it in the airport on my way back from New Orleans, resolving YES if I determine that I would have enjoyed being in a hotel for just the last few days more and that my presentation was not adversely affected by my living situation.

If you have recommendations for things to do to enjoy hostel living or New Orleans, or are going to NeurIPS'23 and would like to connect, please comment!

EDIT: A family friend who went to Tulane and grew up in NOLA reportedly said “Oooooooo” and suggested my parents chip in for a hotel when she saw where the hostel was. This has made me more apprehensive than I was going in, and while I’m not participating in this market, is information I would have traded on if I was.

ON RESOLUTION: This was difficult to resolve. The hostel linked above where I originally made my reservation was charmingly rustic but not well suited to me. The room was probably in the high 70s, the bed was comically squeaky, and the large pyramid of washcloths I had seen in the afternoon was completely gone by the time I was showering at 6am. Talking to people at the conference, I found out many of them were staying at a different, more hotel-core hostel 3 blocks closer to the convention center, and booked it immediately. If I had gotten hosed on the cost of my original reservation, this would probably have had to be resolved to yes, but they were extremely accommodating and gave me a refund. The new hostel I enjoyed greatly.

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Did you install the whova app for the conference? There should be an option to meetup with other people and maybe organize to fill a whole dorm room

@mariopasquato I did, and that would be a lot of fun but do you think there are enough people who still don't have accommodations?

@Landrum I know I just booked mine yesterday, so if I am the median participant then half of the attendees still did not book their accommodation

I say take a risk and have a story to tell. The benefit of getting to attend all the days of the conference and exploring a new city for the cost of maybe some noise at night is much greater. Definitely bring earplugs though. People in hostels don’t really care too much but are usually respectful, so you don’t need to be overzealous just don’t be inconvenient. And New Orleans is beautiful, has a lot of culture and history. I actually been there for a conference and I wish I stayed longer. Try the jazz bars. Emerge in the experience. No regrets.

Stayed in a hostel recentlyish and i kind of regretted it but not really but kind of not bc of losing sleep but because i felt like i constantly had to be overly cautious about making a noise all the time, there were people sleeping in mine really late and really early so it was always awkward brushing my teeth etc, bc everything feels so soo loud if 6 ppl or whatever are sleeping right next to you. I personally sleeped pretty well but definitely take an eye mask and some great earplugs, also for me i got up early ish to run so it was again awkward because everyone else was sleeping when that happened so by my 2nd hostel stay i was doing like military precision organisation of the order i would need things which took so much planning. Also i initally packed my clothes in a plastic vaccum bag, big mistake so loud even in the day, but at night i couldn't open it all and had to throw it away and then had a really disorganised bag.