Things to keep in mind before booking a Hostel

Things to keep in mind before booking a Hostel

If you are solo backpacker or a budget traveler, then there is no better place than staying in a hostel. A place where you can chill out with other like-minded travelers, exchange stories and make new friends. With so many options out there from sites like HostelWorld and HostelBookers , it is very easy to book a hostel these days. But there are a few things that you need to keep in mind before booking a hostel.

 

Check the Room Options:

hostel
source : https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/64/St_Christopher%E2%80%99s_Inn,_Paris_30_July_2008.jpg

The options range from private rooms to 2 shared to 12 shared rooms (or even more). But what you need to know is that if you are sharing a single room with more than 8 people, it is going to be difficult. In most of the hostels, the rooms may not get any bigger, it will just be many beds cramped together. And if there is only one common bathroom in a 10 shared room….well good luck with that. It may be the cheapest and the worst option in the hostel. If you can, shell a bit more and get into a 4 shared or a 6 shared atleast. Go for cheapest option only if you really need it.

 

Check for Lockers:

Lockers

Most of the hostels nowadays have the lockers installed below the bed which I found to be a very good feature. Many people check in and out everyday in a hostel. Before booking a hostel, always filter out the hostels which are having the Locker Facility. You don’t want to leave your valuables and backpack unattended.

Check out this wonderful guide for choosing the best traveling backpack. Also check the detailed reviews for the best travel backpacks out there.

 

Always read the Bad Reviews:

review

Always read the reviews. See what other travelers had to say about the hostel. Good reviews are not really important because….well…you know, they are good. But bad reviews will give you an idea of what you need to expect when booking in that hostel. Use your own judgement to find out what is bad for you because I have read some people say that the hostel is too noisy and crowded. Well it is a budget friendly hostel, what do you expect.

 

Be aware of the Location of the hostel:

Maps

Some hostels might say they are beach-side ones or they are located in the heart of the city. But it is always recommended to do a quick recon on the Google Maps to see where it is. Check out the distance from the airport and how far the local attractions are from the hostel. Also check the public transportation in the area. Some hostels are located in shadier places which you would like to avoid at all costs.

 

Look out for the Special Features:

swimming-pool-918593_960_720
source : https://pixabay.com/p-918593/?no_redirect

Some hostels may have really cool features like a swimming pool, dance floors, terrace or quirky and creative common areas. Some even arrange some fun games or cooking classes. See what you find attractive before booking.

 

Always bring your own Towel:

bath-towel
source : https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/200/470318061_d86e0dc3dc_b.jpg

This is something I learnt from my own mistake. In Goa, After rampaging through my rucksack I found that I did not bring my towel. And the the hostel I stayed in had run out of towels at the last moment. I had to then go to a nearby shop which had only hand towels. I bought three of them and used them together as a single towel. Most of the hostels do have their own towels but are most likely to run out of stock or can be dirty. So lesson learnt there.

 

Book like a Pro:

online-booking
source : https://pixabay.com/p-768608/?no_redirect

You might find that the hostel prices vary in different sites. While I did find the prices in hostelbookers to be reasonable but there are a few hostels which are quoting a lower price in their official site. So before zeroing down on a hostel please do take a quick glance at what the hostel’s official website has to offer.

 

Know the type of Hostel you want:

party-time
source : https://static.pexels.com/photos/29021/pexels-photo-29021.jpg

Hostels may be cheap but there are different types to choose from if you are willing to look over the cheap options. You can choose the hostel you want based on what kind of experience you are looking for.

Cheap Hostels – For budget travelers

Homely Hostels – Will look more like your own bedroom, just that your sharing this one, much cleaner as well

Boutique Hostels – Expensive, luxurious, well-designed and better facilities

Party Hostels – Attractive, Booze, noisy all night and silent during the day (Hangovers…you know)

 

Book in Advance:

Hostel_in_Japan
source : https://static.pexels.com/photos/29021/pexels-photo-29021.jpg

Once you have gone through all the above tips and decided a hostel to stay in; Book in advance right-away. You don’t want to run out of rooms at the last moment and follow the same tedious process to book another one. You may have to pay the full amount when booking from the official website of the hostel. But if you are booking from sites like HostelWorld or HostelBookers you may just have to may a small reservation amount, usually around 100 INR (2$). Keep an eye on the cancellation policy as well as the refund procedure.

Head over to Let’s Backpack if you are looking for a guide on How to Find the Best Accommodation.

Happy Travels and Merry Christmas !!!

 

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146 thoughts on “Things to keep in mind before booking a Hostel

  1. This was very helpful. When I first started traveling I thought always go with the cheapest option but boy did I learn the hard way that a hostel can make or break your trip. Thanks for sharing your awesome tips!

  2. Wow! This is a great and detailed post. I’ve been researching some travel destinations where hostels are very popular so I’ll be coming back to this post when it’s time to book.

  3. I am long past the age for checking into a youth hostel, but I am sure some of my backpacking nephews and nieces could use this information – will share!

  4. Good advice. I’ve stayed in many hostels over time, although I tend to avoid them now that I’m a little bit older! However, you can’t beat them for meeting people whilst travelling (and saving money too).

  5. This is great post ! I have never stayed in hostel before, but I’ve seen some cool ones before. If you lucky you can get fantastic deal! I might try it one day, I would love to meet people around the world when I travel and I know this is one of the best options!

  6. I’ve never used a hostel before when travelling and have alwayse kinda been naive to how they work. Your post offers some good insight along with tips I will definitely consider should I ever go the hostel route, which I’m now more likely to do thanks to your post. Happy holidays.

  7. These are great tips. I’ve never stayed in a Hostel, it sounds like a perfect way to travel on a budget. I’ve always thought of them as places for the young to stay. 🙂

  8. Great tips here – especially on checking the room type, the location and the bad reviews. When we started traveling we jumped on the cheapest hostel we could find, though it would always be so far out of town that the transportation would cost as much as it would have been to place ourselves locally!!

  9. Very useful advice and I totally agree on the advice about not staying in those overly cramped 8-10 person rooms! Another thing I learned is to always bring earplugs!!

  10. Practical reminders. I always bring my own towel too. 🙂 We’d been to some off-radar places in the Philippines and even famous budget resorts where the towels seem suspiciously in need of washing.

  11. Great tips and very useful advice. I agree with everything you’ve got here, especially reading through bad reviews. A lot of the time it’s just grumpy people being super precious but other times, the reviews are legit and offer good warnings. And I ALWAYS travel with my own towel!

  12. Since we’ve done most of our traveling as a couple and then as a family we’re only ever stayed in the private rooms and some have been great. But the shared bathrooms! Urg. I’m too old for that now. Haha

  13. I’ve been travelling very frequently but feels like that “eureka” moment since I didn’t really explore the hostels options before. Reading your experience and the pros and cons, I guess I could try it out if I’d be travelling alone or with friends. I guess it will be hard to forget to carry my towel whenever I do explore the hostels. 🙂

    – Pixellicious

  14. These are all great considerations for choosing a hostel. Good tip about the towel…even when hostels do have towels, sometimes you may not want to use them. Bring your own…always 🙂

  15. Perfect tips to remember before booking an hostel accomodation. Used to stay in hostels when I started travelling with my sister or solo. Always used HostelWorld as it was very convenient. Great tip on carrying your own bath towel and also checking the bathroom options, everyone needs to remember it while booking.

  16. We love staying in hostels and lockers is one of the things we look out for too. Some good tips for first time hosteller here. We would definitely second checking out the reviews both good and bad. Some of them highlight additional things the hostel has that might not be listed on it’s booking site profile i.e. individual lights & plug sockets, or that it has lockers but only tiny ones etc. Thanks for sharing and safe travels.

  17. When I look around for hostel accommodation a locker is one of the most important things on my list the hostel needs to check. I usually travel with a lot of digital equipment. I love staying in Hostels, even though I am a bit older now and do prefer a bit of luxury every now and then, I make sure I book into a hostel at some point in my travels, it’s such a great way to meet fellow travelers and get some really great tips and recommendations for the city you are staying in. I’ve made some really good friends in Hostels.

  18. Some really good advice for newbies! I always bring my towel, simply because I want to be sure that it is clean. Once I didn’t and realized that many hostels charge 1-3 euros for a towel. Thinking of the destination to/from the airport or bus station is also a must especially if you arrive in the middle of the night.

  19. You built a really handy list of tips!
    I’m not a hostel type anymore, but I think that the towel mistake is something everyone has experienced once in life!
    I once stayed in a place where you had to bring your own toilet paper, luckily I found out before an actual need 🙂

  20. I’ve never stayed at a hostel but you present great trips for one doing so. I would never have even thought about bringing my own towel, but I’m a germ freak so that would be my #1 on the list. Shower shoes…a must for anything other than a luxury hotel for me. Thanks for sharing. You’ve really done your homework.

  21. I have never stayed in a hostel, but I was planning to book one for my next trip. I personally love the concept of hostels. They help you connect with people from different countries and cultures. Thanks for sharing these tips. Will surely keep them in mind when booking them.

  22. Great tips! Hostels can be daunting for first-timers, even as a seasoned traveller I get caught out sometimes! It’s a good idea to check their website for photos & description too – I once accidentally booked a place which had great reviews on booking, but on their own website it clearly said it was a party place – and the party carried on alllllllll night!!

  23. Thanks for this very informative post. I have never booked in a hostel. On the other hand, I am considering it as one of the options for my partner and me to save money on the road. Indeed, it is wiser to always look for something that is good and gives a quality service too. So, we should not just look at the price but also on the service that it will offer if it is reasonable enough.

  24. Very informative and useful post for first time travellers or for people who have never experienced staying in a hostel. I always do everything you say in the list apart from filtering for lockers. All my valuables come with me for the day and I doubt someone would like my dirty clothes lol. I always read the reviews and this is the main one that I use to decide if I should book or not. And I definitely can’t handle staying in a dorm with 8 people or more. I usually go for 4 people in a room and it has worked out well.

  25. Great Tips! Reviews, Location and Lockers are my top 3 checks when considering a hostel! Although I think I may have outgrown them now – I really am a fan of my own space!

  26. When we started travelling, 10 years ago, we never booked a hostel on line. We just turned up to a place and found somewhere to stay. Now we always seem to book in advance. In a way it’s easier as you know you’ve found somewhere in your budget and you know where to go when you arrive to the town instead of walking around for ages with our big backpacks on. But it sometimes feels like it’s taken the spontaneous part of travelling away. As we’ve got so used to booking in advance though I think we will always do it.

  27. Really great advice here! I read ALL bad reviews when booking a hostel. It’s so important to research before paying for a room. A few years ago I didn’t research at all and ended up in an uncomfortable situation!

  28. Didn’t know there were different kinds of hostels. Thought they were just the budget kinds. But I would be interested in the boutique hostels now!!!

  29. Great tips, especially about looking up the location and reading reviews – I do this wherever I am staying. I’ve stayed in hostels but mostly in private budget rooms. I don’t think I could do it now but it was great in my 20s and I saved so much money! 🙂 Polly

  30. Your post brought back memories of my teen years traveling through Europe and hanging out in hostels. There were great and not so good moments but, the memories are special. 🙂

  31. We stay in hostels pretty much 90% of our time when travelling, and all of these tips are great for first timers who are unsure whether to stay in one. We find that hostels these days can be better than some moderate to good hotels when you find a great one!

  32. Oooh, important post. I love hostels and cringe whenever I hear people complain about staying in them. Some people just aren’t “hostel people,” and your list can help travelers if they are. Nice!

  33. I have never stayed in a hostel so far. I am used to booking hotels and homestays. So, I guess, if I had gone ahead to book a hostel, I would have followed the same set of rules I use for hotels .. but not after going through your post. It is very useful. I will keep these points in mind when booking a hostel in future

  34. I mostly stay in the hostels, I love all your tips here. I don’t understand people complaining about snoring and dorm sex, this is something they should be expecting since hostels are a cheap place to stay 🙂

  35. These are great tips, and many can also be applied for booking at a hotel. I always double check the location on places and also read reviews before booking. Wow I had no idea you have to bring your own towel when staying at a hostel. I haven’t stayed at a hostel before, but I think it would be a fun experience.

  36. These are great points for budget travelers. I have never stayed in a hostel on holiday. I love large hotel rooms with lots of space and privacy, but I can see how when you are constantly on the go or a solo traveler how a hostel would be the best option.

  37. Great tips on what to think about when booking a hostel, It’s not really our travel style, but If I were going to travel alone or stay in a hostel this is good to know, especially the locker. It would be hard to find lost valuable when so many people book in and out. also good to check on location not only for safety reasons but also for getting around. nice tips

  38. These are all great tips. I’m a super light sleeper so noise is a huge factor for me. I tend to like the private rooms because of that. Great idea to compare the price on the hostel site. I often do that with airlines.

  39. This is an incredible guide! I am bookmarking this and saving this for other guests who are first-time hostelgoers. I think I’ve come to a point in time where I just don’t want to stay in a hostel anymore BUT you have just provided all the things I wish I knew when I first started hosteling, especially the lockers and the tip about bad reviews! You should also add that on top of bringing a towel, you should also bring your own bath slippers!

  40. Good advice, thank you. I don’t really like hostels, don’t like this idea of sharing a room with people you don’t know or having dirty towels if you forget your own… But everything is good to know if I ever make it to a hostel!

    1. People are different in their perspective. You are someone who does not love the sharing room system. But if you ever run low on cash while traveling, then hostels are a good option.

  41. Hostels are rarely my choice of accommodation, but I always found them an interesting option, one I really wanted to try. This is a great guide, and some of the tips apply to any type of accommodation you choose. Knowing what your options are, knowing what others think, and having a basic idea where your accommodation is are always great ideas.

  42. That is an extremely helpful article. I am sure many might suffer for not ensuring they take care of some of the things you have listed. But others like me would be saved by your suggestions.

  43. Thanks for sharing these budget tips. I might be a thrifty diva for anything else except for my accommodations. Am still a gal who is a firm believer of safety and comfort combined, and doesn’t mind throwing extra bucks for these 🙂

    My budget amigos will truly like your post 🙂 !

  44. This certainly answered a lot of my questions about hostels. I’ve had some confusion over just what that word means exactly, as I have never actually stayed in one before. Where we are now, in Ecuador, a hostal is something like we call a motel in the USA, except that you would never have a shared bathroom. I understand the classification here is less than 10 rooms or something, but otherwise the rooms are private and bathrooms are shared, and other spaces are communal. Sound like what I know as a Bed N Breakfast. This really confuses me because I always imagined hostals as one huge room with 20 bunk beds and zero privacy. Do you think the word “hostal” has different meanings in different geographical locations?

    1. If you are looking for privacy then you should not go for hostel dorms. They are cheap, suits only budget travel. You can try out the different sites like Hostelworld and Hostelbookers. They have a wide range options to choose from in almost every location. Hostel rooms are of different types from private to shared, as I have mentioned in the post. You can book as per your preference.

  45. This is a very informative and helpful post, thanks so much for sharing. I recently realised how much my travelling style has changed over the years, I loved party hostels at one stage, now I am all about boutique hostels that offer something unique or home stays. I also like my space and prefer to rent a room in a hostel, even if I am travelling alone, you still get a great deal and the awesome atmosphere of meeting fellow travellers.

  46. I don’t do hostels as I don’t like sharing but it is something I am looking into doing to save a bit of money. I like the idea of having the curtain round the bed for added privacy do most of them have that now a days as I might think about booking one if I get one like that

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