How to find the right hostel

As probably many of us, I’m eagerly waiting to leave the country and start backpacking again. Deep inside I know though, that it might take quite a while til the world becomes “normal” again (which makes me wonder if the way we lived can even be described as “normal”, but that’s another story). However, there’s nothing wrong with dreaming and preparing yourself for your next trip. That’s why I want to tell you how to find the right hostel.

First things first: I love staying at hostels and sleeping in dorms. Getting to know new people, feeling the hostel vibes, waking up every day ready to start another adventure with fellow traveller friends (oh, I miss it). After being to many different countries and staying at many different hostels I started developing a specific procedure when booking my accommodation. Fortunately, I’ve had some really nice stays so far.

Booking a hostel step by step

No 1: Open the booking portal of your choice

I always book my accommodation through either booking.com or hostelworld.com. Depending on the country the offers sometimes vary. In Australia I didn’t like to use booking.com as hostelworld had a much better choice. Pricewise it’s very similar and not worth the effort to compare prices. I tend to use hostelworld more often as I have the feeling that the group of people using this booking portal differs in some way. In my opinion the ratings on hostelworld are based on social factors whereas on booking.com, they rather depend on external factors like facilities and cleanliness. Don’t get me wrong – I do like a clean and nice hostel, but also I don’t wanna sit there alone at the end of the day.

No 2: Set filters

For me, this is the fun part. I usually set the following filters: Rating (more than 7 stars) and Sort by price, lowest first. Nowadays I assume that every good hostel has free WiFi. It could be advantageous to have breakfast included, but that also depends on the country. In Southeast Asia I prefer going to different restaurants every day, in Australia it’s mostly self-sufficiency. If you prefer staying in a female/male dorm/private room you should set a filter for that as well.

No 3: Choose the hostel

Now it’s time for some short research. Based on the pictures, price and ratings I’ll have a closer look at two or three hostels, starting from the one with the lowest price. I compare the description, location, pictures and go through some reviews from other travellers. This step is really important as they will tell you how the hostel vibe is. Are you looking for party? Do you like to have a quiet hostel with family atmosphere? You can get all this information from the reviews.

My hostel must-haves

Hostels without lockers are a deal breaker for me. I want to be able to leave the hostel without having to hide my valuable stuff under the mattress. In this context I can highly recommend bringing your own padlock*. And make sure the lockers are large enough to fit bulky stuff, like a Laptop. Furthermore I like laidback hostels with spacious and cozy common areas – a great opportunity to meet and mingle with other travellers!

Locationwise I look for hostels that are situated close to a train or bus station. It’s just easier when you have to move to your next location. But also it’s important that the hostel is not too far away from where the main action takes place.

I hope this guide helps you with choosing a hostel for your next trip! And maybe you even develop your own booking procedure. Apart from actually staying at the hostel I quite enjoy the process of finding one. In case you’re still a bit worried not to meet people while traveling alone have a look at my latest blogpost about five ways to meet people while traveling alone.

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3 Comments

  1. Here’s another method of finding great hostels especially in small and mid-size cities or rural areas. I used this a lot during my recent endeavours: Open Google Maps, hover over the area you want to go to and search for “hostel”. This is going to get you the “complete” results including location and rating. Then just go to the hostel’s website and book from there.

    Background: Hostel owners have to pay plenty for being listed in booking.com or hostelworld so there’s quite a bunch of hostels that you can’t find on these portals. Whereas they don’t have to pay for being listed in Google, i.e. that’s where you can find ALL of them.

    PLUS: If you make a reservation through the hostel website or by a call, it’s going to be (usually) cheaper for you!

    1. Hi brotherheart, thanks for your comment!

      I really like your suggestions – booking through a hostel’s website is probably the better option as the hostels owners don’t have to pay extra money to be listed on Google maps. However, I think the user experience on booking portals is much better. They structure and visualize all information that is needed quite clear which makes it easier to make a decision – and I don’t have to visit the hostels websites individually. I guess there are pros and cons that come with each method. Especially for newbies I’d recommend the booking portals though. It’s less likely to end up with a hostel no one’s ever been before (unless you want that).

      xx Linda

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