Choosing a hostel somewhere you’ve never visited doesn’t have to be scary! You can take all the guesswork out of reserving a bed at a hostel by following this guide to making sure you stay at the hostel that’s perfect for you and your trip! This is what I do every time I need to figure out where to stay and how I make sure I’m making the right decision.
Go to Hostelworld’s website and/or download their app.
Hostelworld is your online resource to hostels everywhere. With Hostelworld you can search your destination in the dates you will be traveling and be able to book the hostel bed online before you arrive.
Determine whether or not your destination has hostels available
Fill in your dates and destination and search for what’s available. Living in the US, staying in hostels is a lot more rare than other countries, but you will be shocked to see how many hostels there actually are here. In almost every major city you will be able to find at least one hostel. I always make sure that I at least have somewhere reserved the day my flight gets in.
So there are a ton of hostels available, how do you choose?
First you need to think about your priorities.
For most people, priorities narrow down to, price, location, atmosphere, and cleanliness. Read the reviews!! I promise you, if the hostel is in an inconvenient location someone will have said that, if the hostel was dirty there will definitely be a bad review about that, if it is a “party” hostel, or if it is a quiet hostel, it will be mentioned in the reviews.
If price is the biggest priority for you:
Sort Hostelworld results from least expensive to most expensive and check the reviews on each one. We all want to get the best deal, but there are other things to consider when it comes to price. If you’re looking at a hostel that’s significantly cheaper than the rest try to figure out why. If it’s out of the way of everything you want to do and you are without a car, the price of your uber rides or taxis might outweigh the difference in the price of a more expensive hostel in a great location.
Figure out where the hostels are located and what is around them. When I do this I like to search the address in mapquest or the maps app on my phone, and search the main activities I plan on doing and see how far away they are. If you don’t have a car, you will probably want to get the one in the most central location to everything. Also think about if there are places to eat, coffee shops, or bars nearby, whatever is important to you for your trip.
What kind of atmosphere are you looking for?
If you are traveling solo you may be looking for a social hostel or a party hostel. Look to see if the hostel hosts nightly events, or if the reviews mention the ability to make friends, or a busy common area. Hostels that have restaurants or bars usually are pretty social. If you are looking to be busy all day long and come back at the end of the day to relax and rest, these hostels will not be the best option for you. Read the reviews and hostel descriptions and someone will definitely clarify what type of place it is. If you can’t figure it out, find the hostels facebook page or website and just ask, they will definitely be able to tell you!
How much do you care about cleanliness and comfort?
Cleanliness and comfort are also very important. For me, if someone says in a review, “The beds were uncomfortable, but the rooms and bathrooms were clean” I’m ok with that. I don’t care how comfortable or uncomfortable that bed is as long as the bathrooms aren’t disgusting. As a solo traveler it’s very important to me to choose a social hostel, but that’s still not worth it if the facilities are awful. A balance between all these things is typically what I look for.
Are there any local events going on?
Are you traveling for a special event? This is very important to keep in mind during the hostel booking process! Sometimes low key hostels can get really busy and turn into super social and loud hostels the weekend of a big event. Also, the good hostels may book up early because of the event so it might be important to make your reservation as early as possible.
Other things to consider are:
Do you need parking?
Are there extra fees?
Do you need an airport transfer?
Do you need a late check in?
Use social media
Once you have it narrowed down to a couple places, do an Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter search of the hostel. Look for the hostel’s social media accounts, hashtags of the hostel name, and search for it under the places tab on instagram. You can always comment on people’s photos from the hostel or respond to their tweets about it and ask them about their experience and whether or not they recommend it.
(I found The Hostel in the Forest and made one of my best friends by commenting on a photo of it and asking about it on Instagram!)
Just follow these steps to make sure you book the perfect hostel on your next trip. Figure out what your priorities are in your accommodation, make sure you figure out what services the hostel offers and whether or not there are any extra fees you need to be aware of. ALWAYS read the reviews from past guests and check the hostel out on social media to cover all your bases and you will be golden!