Online shopping always causes a headache when you really can’t get a good feel for an item based on a few photos and some not-always-so-reliable reviews from anonymous buyers. Such is a similar case in the online hunt for accommodation when you’re about to travel to a new place. With these tips I use to find a good hostel, I hope you too can have a great travel experience because of great accommodation.
Use Hostelworld.com, but also consult individual hostel websites
I like using Hostelworld.com because it streamlines the search process by calling up a list of hostels in a place and provides reviews, photos, and detailed descriptions. However, sometimes, it’s good to go directly to the hostel’s website if they have one, as prices may vary or you might find more information.
Location, location, location!
The location of the hostel can have a lot of influence on your overall experience. When I have no bearing on a new place, I start by typing in a major tourist draw and base my location off of that. You do not necessarily want to be in the heart of tourist central, but being near these places is generally a good starting point. Also, close proximity to train and bus stations is a plus, but I often do not seek this out. As is the case in some cities, the area around transportation hubs is less safe, particularly at night/early morning.
The price doesn’t always equate to the quality of the hostel
Those travelling on a strict budget may choose the cheapest option offered, while others may see a higher price and assume this means it will be an incredible hostel. I always read into what the hostel itself offers and consider all the other aspects discussed here before I decide if the price is worth it. When in doubt, paying a little extra usually goes a long way in ensuring a cleaner and better quality hostel.
Know what you want out of the stay in that particular place …
Do you want to meet a lot of people in a more social hostel? Do you want to be close to a major attraction you’re travelling to see? Do you want a more restful stay in a relaxed place? Be sure to pay attention to hostel descriptions and offerings. Some places outright label themselves as party hostels where one won’t get much sleep, while others offer a more homey and relaxed feel.
… And then look for the right atmosphere accordingly.
Some of the best hostels create a sense of community by offering group dinners, excursions, breakfasts, and any other organized activities that bring guests together. Participating in group events or hanging out in common areas in a hostel is a great way to meet other travelers, whether you’re travelling alone or with friends. It’s difficult to know how helpful or welcoming the staff will be in a place before arrival, but a hostel that offers lots of group events and is smaller in size usually stands as a good indicator that your stay there will be more personal.
Consider all the basics
I always look for places that offer lockers and towel rental, and allow me to pay the fees upon arrival with a credit or debit card. Being able to lock away belongings while out exploring all day is a must for me, as well as not having to travel with towels. I usually try to pay for most larger expenses (like accommodation fees) with cards when travelling so I don’t have to carry a lot of cash or switch currencies. Doing a careful read through of the fine print before booking is a good idea, or alternatively, email the hostel contact and ask.
Do read reviews!
Always take these with a grain of salt, but read them nonetheless. Before booking any stay in a hostel, I spend a good bit of time scanning what others have to say about a place. I actually enjoy reading reviews, as they can be comical at times, but also really informative and include information on the hostel not found anywhere else.