How to Choose the Right Hostel
If you have read any of my other blog posts then it is likely that at some point you will have seen me preach about how good hostels are, especially if you are a solo traveller. There is a good reason for that. It is because I honestly believe that if you are able to choose the right hostel that it can not only make your experience in a place by meeting likeminded travellers, but it is often the easiest way to keep costs down. This goes for anyone, whether you are on a 6 month round the world trip or simply a weekend break. If you want it to be cheap and you want to meet some of the most interesting people from across the globe, then look no further than a hostel.
Lots of people that I know who haven’t travelled are very sceptical about hostels. Won’t you just get your things stolen? What about bedbugs? Oh, I couldn’t share a room with so many people. These are all things that I have heard more than once. However, in my experiences if you pick the right hostels then you are able to overcome all of these worries and have an amazing time.
So then, how do you choose the right hostel for you? It’s important to know that hostels are not all the same. They come in a variety of different types. You can have big party hostels, chain hostels where you know no matter where you go the experience is going to be similar or small family run hostels. Therefore, it is important to know what you want. For example, in Budapest, there is a famous party hostel called Vitae. If you want to go on big pub crawls and great nights out then this is the one for you, but if you want more chilled evenings then you might want to look elsewhere.
My favourite way to research hostels is through Hostelworld. It is a website, and app, that compares hostels in locations across the world and rates them on a variety of different aspects such as cleanliness or location. It also allows you to filter hostels by things you want such as only showing you hostels with a bar or ones that are in the city centre. I find that this is extremely useful as I only ever stay at hostels with bars and ones with higher ratings for atmosphere as that is the best way that I have found to meet other travellers.
Hostelworld also provides other information about every hostel such as the hours that check in is open or most importantly if they have lockers for your belongings. The feature that I have found the most useful though is that each hostel has reviews from real travellers who have stayed there. It really is the best way to get a feel for somewhere before you go. Often people will leave tips in their reviews such as the best activities to do or must check out places around the city.
With all that being said, Hostelworld is not always the best place to actually book a hostel. It is from my experience certainly the best place for research, but they take a booking fee that the hostel itself never sees. This means that if you have found your perfect hostel, then it might sometimes be cheaper to book directly with them whether that be online or in person so always check before.
Of course, Hostelworld is not the only way to find great hostels. Word of mouth and asking other travellers where they have stayed in different places is also a great way to find out where the best spots are, but this only works if you know or meet someone who has been there.
In my experience, if you do all your research, and that can literally be 10 minutes on the day that you are looking for somewhere to sleep, then hostels really aren’t anything to be worried about. For me, they are places I look forward to going to as you never know what might happen whilst you’re there.