How to Find the Right Hostel

For $15 dollars a night, you can get much more than just a bed.
This is one of my favorite hostels in the world in La Fortuna, Costa Rica
When it comes to backpacking, aside from picking your destination, choosing the right hostel is one of the biggest decisions a traveler will have to make. A hostel is more than just a bed, it's a center for social interaction that can turn any awesome experience into one of the best of your life. It can be a daunting decision in many cities around the world, with an over abundance of hostels that look, more or less, inseparable.

I've heard too many horror stories of awful hostels throughout my experience traveling, but I've always managed to avoid them by following a few simple guidelines. What should you be looking for when booking your hostel? Here are my recommendations:

Look for the little things
For an inexperienced traveler, there are just some things that are too easily overlooked when it comes to looking for a hostel. Do they have lockers or safes for your stuff? Is breakfast included? Are there quiet hours or weird check in/out times? What about a kitchen?These are some questions you should always have in the back of your mind when booking a hostel.

Where to look
A good traveler is always resourceful, which means you need to know where to look to find the best hostels at a cheap price. I almost always use either or but I have recently found that wikitravel's destination guides have some listings that you just can't find anywhere else - some of which have been gems. A lot of people use, but you can usually find cheaper prices elsewhere.

Don't just look for price
Most hostel ranking sites will show you all the key ratings for every hostel. Don't make the mistake of looking just at price and booking the cheapest one. More often than not, it's worth it to drop a few extra bucks on a better place! Look at location, cleanliness and security. If those three are at acceptable levels, you can usually assume it's a good place to go.

Location is important, even if it costs more. You could stay in a great hostel thirty minutes outside of the city and end up paying more in bus or metro fees than you would have to stay in an equally awesome place right in the center of the action.

Security is a huge one, if there are reports of the hostel being broken into or previous traveler's belongings getting robbed that should be a big red flag for you.

Cleanliness speaks for itself. Who wants to sleep in a pig sty with broken showers?

Of course atmosphere is pretty important, but just about any time you get backpackers together under one roof you're gonna have a pretty awesome time - some hostel's just do a better job of encouraging and promoting social activity.

Speaking of price, before you actually make the reservation, check around for better deals - especially the hostel's official page, which sometimes will have a better deal.

How's the staff?

My room in an amazing hostel in Budapest. 

This one isn't always easy to decipher when looking through reviews online, but any place that has comments about helpful staff usually draws my attention. Some sites around the world involve more than just walking or catching a few buses to see everything you want, and being able to get the scoop on the ground from your hostel is almost invaluable. Even if you don't need their help, people who run hostels are typically pretty cool and can become good friends over the course of just a few nights.

What are your favorite hostels and why? Let me know in the comments!

No comments:

Post a Comment