Today I want to discuss something I love: hostels! I love travelling and a big part of that (for me) is getting to stay in hostels. They are cheap, you meet awesome people, and the staff generally know a lot about the city you’re in. However, if you’ve never searched for or stayed in hostels it can be pretty overwhelming. Fear not! I am here for you with a step by step guide to finding a great hostel.
Before we get started I want to say a few things about hostels. First, if you have this image of hostels as gross and noisy places, you’re wrong. It’s really not hard to find a hostel that isn’t dirty or that is more chill/quiet if you want. Second, staying in a good hostel can totally change your experience in a city, so I recommend keeping a good budget for hostels. They often have free activities and kitchens so you can save money elsewhere. Let’s get booking!
So when booking hostels I like to use the HostelWorld app. They also have a website but I don’t think it works as well as the app. That is why I use the app and why my tutorial will be based on app, but the same ideas apply to this or other websites.
The first step is to open the hostel world app. This is what it looks like on the iPhone as of the end of April 2017. Pick your destination, the nights you want to stay, and the number of guests. Time to search.
The next step is to click on the filter button in the bottom right of the screen (see right.)
Next, pick the filters you want to use. Personally, I recommend sorting by rating and by limiting your search to hostels. You could also do a price maximum but I usually do not, just to see everything. Apply the filters and go back to the search.
Next, look at your results and find a hostel that has an interesting price/rating. Click on it and now we will look at the rating. As you can see on the right this hostel has a great score of 9.3/10. However, what does this score break down to? To find this out click on the overall rating to see the breakdown.
The image to the left shows the breakdown of the rating. The main things I look for are location, cleanliness and security. My preference is hostels in a good location because even if the atmosphere isn’t a 10/10 at least you’re in a great spot! Next, I read some of the reviews. This gives me a feeling for the “vibe” of the hostel and what to expect when I get there. This is hard to teach to someone else but just read them and see how they make you feel about the hostel.
Next, I take a look at the facilities of the hostel. There are a few non-negotiable things for me when it comes to facilities. I want:
- Free wifi (for obvious reasons)
- Linens included: I don’t bring sheets with me when I travel
- Towels for free or for hire: same as above, do not travel with a towel.
- Security lockers: I need lockers to lock up my stuff, no desire or time to get stuff stolen.
I also check for 24 hour reception for times when I am arriving at the hostel late. If you plan on cooking many of your own meals, check for a kitchen.
Lastly, I just take a look at all the information included about the hostel. If it has what I want, is a reasonable price, and has the right vibe, I am happy to book it. To do this either book on HostelWorld or try and book directly with the hostel. HostelWorld charges a 10% fee on top of the cost of the hostel so you can save money by bypassing them. I often book with HostelWorld because all the information about your booking is easily accessible in the app. Additionally, when booking a bed I would recommend a room with 4-8 beds, more than that can be really overwhelming, but is not the end of the world.
Feel free to comment if you have any questions. Good luck and have a nice trip!