Finding the perfect hostel is never easy. There are so many things to consider when looking for the right hostel. I’m here today to tell you the key things to look for when finding the best hostel for you.
Is it close to where you are going to be spending a lot of your time? After all you want to make the most of your time in that place without faffing around spending lots of time travelling to and from the hostel. Also if you book a hostel in close proximity to where you are hanging out it means you can always pop back to your hostel for a quick outfit change or to drop souvenirs off.
To find this information I don’t spend hours trying to figure it out as Hostelworld tells you how close it is to the city centre and Googlemaps is amazing. If I’m going on a city break I take an educated guess that the majority of sites I’ll want to see will be in the city centre so I book a hostel in walking distance from the city centre(no more than 2km out).
If I’m going on a beach holiday it’s fairly obvious how close the hostel is to the beach on Googlemaps. If I’m unsure I will look at the walking distance from my hostel to a local beach bar using Googlemaps tools.
2. Hostel style
In the description and the photos of the hostel they usually make it clear what type of hostel it is.
If it’s a party hostel there’ll be photos of people having a good time, the description will be aimed at attracting young travellers and most of the time it will say if it’s a party hostel as party hostel are very popular.
If it’s a chilled out hippy hostel you’ll see photos of the hostel looking colourful and mellow.
No matter what your style is or what you’re looking for you’ll always find a hostel that suits you. We live in the golden age of budget travelling so there’s so many options out there that a lot of the time we’re spoilt for choice.
3. Reviews and ratings
When looking on Hostelworld I will try not to stay in a hostel rating under a 7 or 8. If I’m looking on a search engine that has a star rating system I would always aim to be booking a hostel with 4 or 5 stars.
However, it is worth looking at the reviews and thinking about what you require from the hostel.
In Croatia we were set to stay in Zadar for one night. We were arriving late in the evening, setting off early for a trip the following morning and getting an overnight bus that same night. Therefore as we only needed a bed for the night we weren’t too fussed about décor or the amenities of the hostel. We read the reviews and the hostel was close to the bus station, accepted late check ins and didn’t have any reviews mentioning bed bugs so we booked the hostel despite it only have a 6 rating on Hostelworld.
If you’re planning to stay in a place for quite some time or a hostel where you think you’ll be using the facilities quite a lot it’s worth booking a hostel with a better rating.
When I went to Riga for New Year in 2018 we were there for 5 nights and it was winter so we opted for a hostel with good ratings. As it happened my friend was poorly and the weather was rubbish so we spent a lot of time relaxing and reading in the hostel. In this case we much appreciated the cosy, nice environment to chill out in.
4. Who are you travelling with?
This may seem obvious but you’ve got to consider who you’re travelling with, if anyone. When I travel solo I normally opt for female only dorm rooms unless I can’t find any(not all places do them believe it or not), in which case I will stay in a mixed dorm. I will only stay in a mixed dorm provided the hostel has a lot of good reviews because if the hostel wasn’t safe someone will have mentioned it in the reviews.
If you are travelling with a friend it’s sometimes just as cost effective to share a private room. I do a mixture of staying in dorms and private rooms when travelling with friends. I find that there’s often more important factors that influence the type of room or hostel you choose so you play it by ear and choose whatever suits you.
I’ve only ever stayed in a hostel with a group of people when I was planning my friend’s hen do last year. As there was 20 of us of varying ages and some hesitant about staying in hostels I picked a new build YHA that looked incredible and had amazing reviews. I got us 5 private rooms of 4 beds which all had ensuite bathrooms. With that in mind when booking for a group I would suggest know you’re travel companions expectations and needs and if in doubt book the best hostel available. If people are putting money down for a place that you’re booking you really don’t want any complaints when you get there.
If you’re a skint traveller like me who plans trips based on the amount of days I can afford in the location on my very tight budget then you’re going to be looking for a dorm room in a hostel that covers the basics listed above for the cheapest price.
However, if you have money to play with or if you’re on the road for a long time there’s no harm in splashing out on a private room in a hostel or opting for the more expensive hostel. To be honest if you’ve been living in dorm rooms for 6 months straight chances are you’re in need of a decent nights sleep in a private room. Whatever you’re budget you’ll be able to find something to cater to your needs.
These are the 5 things I focus on when choosing a hostel and it’s always worked in my favour as (touch wood) I’ve never had any horrific experiences with hostels so far. Hostels sometimes get a bad rep but if you choose right you can’t go wrong which leaves more money for those all important travel experiences.
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.
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