If you have ever traveled alone or under the age of 30, you have most likely either considered or actually booked a hostel before. Everybody has different things they like in an accommodation, but here are some of the basics to look out for when booking online.
First, let’s look at some of the most booking platforms. Before you get into the hostel community, most people use booking.com. This is not a bad website and many hostels will also advertise there, but not nearly as many as on other platforms. The two websites I like to use are Hostelbookers and Hostelworld. These two have the biggest selection of hostels with ratings and reviews. Hostelworld tends to have slightly more options but they also charge a booking fee. Hostelbookers has fewer options, especially in more unique destinations not so known for backpacking, but they do not charge you a booking fee. So, in the end, it comes down to what you prefer.
Okay, now that we got a list of hostels we want to look at in our destinations, we have to actually pick one. Most people will just play with the price vs. review ratio until they find the cheapest one with the best reviews. However, there are a few other things to look out for when booking a hostel.
Many hostels serve breakfast. This is not a huge surprise. However, many do not include it in their price. So you might think you are getting a cheap room for 20 Euros in Budapest but then they charge you 7-10 Euros for breakfast and your price is back up. Of course, you are not required to eat breakfast at your hostel but it is just convenient, especially if you just arrived in the city. Some hostels may offer other means as well. One hostel I stayed in would offer free dinner instead of breakfast, while another in Sri Lanka has an amazing and very cheap dinner option. So before you book, decide if this is important to you and then make sure the hostel you book has what you want.
While hostels are by no means hotels, they do have some facilities, some more than others. Many hostels have a lounge area with instruments or books, maybe a pingpong table or some games. Others might have a bar or a simple restaurant. I’ve seen some that even have a pool. However, these kinds of facilities might bring up the price since they take maintenance. Sometimes it might be worth paying a little more money to have some of these things. Also always check the facilities list provided by the hostel to make sure they offer towels and linen, have lockers for your things, wifi, and anything else you might require.
This one is probably obvious, but always check the location of a hostel. Sometimes you might want to stay in the heart of the city and explore it as much as you can. Other times you would rather stay on the outskirts in a quieter neighborhood to relax a little.Location can also have to do with safety. Always research the area where the hostel is located to make sure that it is safe. Also most of the websites show what the reviews think about the locations. Sometimes a hostel looks like the location is perfect for getting around and then you discover that there are no shops or restaurants around. Just know what you want when you book.
Depending on why you’re traveling you may or may not want to stay at a large hostel. You can normally estimate the size by the number of different types of rooms, the number of people per room, and check the pictures. If you want to have fun and meet many people, check for hostels with 10 bed rooms and many types of rooms. They will give you an opportunity to make friends. If you are not a hundred percent conformable about with this check out my guide on making friends at hostels here. On the other hand, if you are traveling with your SO, you may want to book a small hostel to enjoy some privacy and peace. If you do not check for this, you may end up in a hostel that would ruin your expectations with their environment.
Type of hostel
Not all hostels are the same. Some hostels are focused on parties, others are about relaxing, and some are adventurous. This is something that you really have to look out for when booking. It kind of ties in with the size of the hostel, but not incompletely. Some hostels have bars, others have yoga classes, a third type might have a diving trip. Depending on what you are looking for in your vacation, you may want to go for one or the other. You can check what type each hostel is, by looking at their facilities. pictures and checking Facebook for their events and pictures. Picking the right type will make or break your holiday.
I really hope this will help you when booking your next trip. Hostels are great and can add so much to your trip if you find the right one. If you are solo traveling or on a budget, they can really make your travels easier.
As always I would love to hear your tips and stories in the comments or on social media.