Yeah! You finally booked your flights! Now, there is only thing left to do and that is finding that perfect hostel. A good hostel is highly important. Hostels serve as a meeting place, party place, information point and of course as a home away from home. But how to find that perfect hostel? Bunch of Backpackers will help you how to choose a hostel in 5 simple steps and also give you tips on staying in a hostel for the first time.
How to choose the perfect hostel?
This is the first article in the ‘How to choose the perfect hostel’ series. In the next articles, we will describe step 3-5:
What is your perfect hostel? Consider what you find important.
In order to pick the perfect hostel you will have to figure out what kind of traveller you are. So ask yourself the following questions first (TIP: write down your most important preferences)
– Cheapest hostel or can you afford a bit more luxury?
Beware that the cheapest hostel is NOT always the best choice. It may even cost you extra to travel to hostels that are located outside the center or you may be charged ridiculously high fees for stupid stuff (like the hire of blankets / lockers / food etc.)
– Dorms or private rooms?
If you don’t mind waking up early because your drunken roommates come home at 4A.M., smelly roommates, uncomfortable bunks, shared facilities, no privacy what so ever: then a dorm may be just the thing for you. Dorms are also a great (maybe the best) way to meet other backpackers.
– Are you a sucker for location?
If you are on a tight schedule make sure you choose a hostel that is either close to your sightseeing locations or a hostel that is conveniently located near public transportation. If you’re a party animal, go for a hostel near the clubbing district!
– What kind of hostel do you want: authentic, sociable, big, small, laid-back etc.?
As said before there is a wide range of hostels available. You can stay in a family ran hostel that is almost a homestay with homecooked food. There are hostels with their own bars and clubs. Hostels with shisha and reggae. Name it and you can find it.
When you travel solo you may be more at ease at a medium-sized hostel with a cosy common room where it is impossible to not meet other backpackers. However, when you travel as a big group it makes sense to choose one of those modern hostels with with big dorms and their own bar.
– What kind of facilities would you like to have in your hostel?
Hostels offer a wide range of facilities these days. During my travels the availability of towel rental or laundry facilities was sometimes the deciding factor. So think about what kind of facilities you would like to have.
STEP 2: Listen to your fellow backpackers and friends
Your fellow backpackers or you friends back home are the BEST counsellors.
– Ask around BEFORE you go
– Ask around WHILE you’ re travelling
Also check the notice board and brochures in your current hostel and ask the reception. Sometimes the reception in your current hostel can make a simple call to reserve a room for you in the next hostel.
STEP 3: Check out hostelworld?
This is a step 3 of our series that helps you to choose the perfect hostel! In this article we will explain a bit more about Hostelworld and how this website can help you to select a great hostel.
A step-by-step guide on using Hostelworld
By following this simple step-by-step guide, you will easily find the perfect hostel. You only have to follow this guide once. After, that you will understand the basics and will be able to select cool hostels without any help :)
- Step 1: Enter country, place and dates of your destination
- Step 2: List the hostels by rating
- Step 3: Start with the hostels with the highest ratings (above 80%)
- Step 4: Check the number of people that have rated these hostels (… total reviews).
- There are often a few hostels who have considerable more review than the others. Those are often the ones where you have the best chance to make new friends and to have a bit of a party
- Hostels with a few reviews may be new at hostelworld or there is another reason. Check out the reviews, the map and the price to see what that reason can be and why they have few reviews and a high ranking (beware of fake reviews)
- Step 5: Check out some of the most recent reviews and check by who those reviews are written (age/sex/country)
- Step 6: Check out the separate ratings of different categories such as cleanliness, staff, atmosphere, location etc.
- Step 7: Check the following stuff: curfew, 24 hour reception, breakfast included, additional charges etc.
- Step 8: Check if your personal preferences stroke with the facilities, location and prices of the hostel
STEP 4: Check out the website of the hostel
Hostelworld does not provide a direct link, but you can simply google it. By viewing the website you can often get a good impression of the hostel.
STEP 5: Book the hostel of your choice!
Once you have selected a hostel it is time to book your spot! Booking in advance is not always needed. It is only needed for popular hostels or hostels with limited capacity. Most of the times you can just show up.
In some cases it is cheaper to book through the hostel (Hostelworld charges a small booking fee). When you stay for more then 3 nights for example, you may be able to get a discount when booking directly through the hostel.
Once you booked a hostel…
– Take a photo of the address of the hostel (or save it on your phone) with the address preferably written in the local language/script
– Write down the telephone number of the hostel
– Roughly check where the hostel is located in the city (remember landmarks such as rivers / shops / squares etc.) to make double sure once you’re on the move you’re heading into the right direction
First time staying in a hostel: tips and tricks!
- Bring a towel and liner
- Bring a padlock
- Bring a head torch or flash light
- Keep the noise down after 10 PM, use your flash light after 10 PM
- If you come home late, make sure your pyjama and toiletries are already on your bed (so you don’t have to search your backpack in the dark)
- Have fun!!
It goes without saying that some countries do not have fancy hostels with facilities to choose from or are not active on the internet. In that case, it is best to choose a hostel or guesthouse on basis of experiences of other backpackers or to search the internet for reviews.
As a final remark: Backpacking is no rocket science. I hope this article simply serves as a guide, but in the end ‘Just go with the flow and see and book as you go!’
How to choose the perfect hostel? Did I miss anything?
Recommended further reading
11 essential safety tips for solo travelers!
Become Master of Haggling with these tips!
The 13 best hostels in Asia for solo travelers!
what a great post, found it through your Pinterest.
Where do you have your step 3? I couldn’t find it. Curious :)
See you around, Matt