Hostel Life 101: Choosing the Right One

Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, Travelers don’t know where they are going.
— Paul Theroux

It was secretly hilarious to me when people would ask me where I was headed next during my Eurotrip because honestly, at some points, I had no idea.  That is why I selected the quote about.  Anywho...

Hey y'all! I know some of you have been looking forward to my posts about my experiences with European hostels and that time has finally come. 

I will be breaking down the next few posts into

  1. How I selected my hostels
  2. Hostel survival tips
  3. Hostel etiquette (major key)

Let's get started. 


How did I choose my hostels?

If you read my previous post detailing my Eurotrip statistics, you will see that I stayed in a total of 16 hostels for 34 nights with a cost of $1,061 total.  I'll say I was #WINNING by saving funds during the high season and can only imagine how much cheaper it would have been had I gone through the off season.  For the most part, I did some research on the hostels prior to arriving (even if it was only a few days before).  There were only two or three occasions in which I was at my last resort and booked the most convenient one. 

My Favorite Hostel Review Sites include:

 

Hostel Geeks

I love them because of their "5 Star Hostel" reviews.  If it is not a clean, convenient, friendly hostel, they will not bother posting it.  The only slight pitfall is the fact that they are mainly focused in Europe, which is great if you're going on a Eurotrip, but if you are venturing off to Central America or Asia, you will not find as many reviews.  I hope that they continue to increase their reviews as they continue to blog in the future.  They claim to not receive compensation for their reviews, so that helps me to trust their opinions a little bit more. 

The Hostel Girl

Katie (The Founder) seems like a kindred spirit to me.  She does not appear to be a party crazed traveler, but more of one that appreciates culture, fun, and good living.  Her hostel reviews feel like stories and give me great impressions of where she stays.  She also adds videos which add an extra boost that pictures simply cannot always give.  In addition to her hostel reviews, she has tour reviews and a section dedicated to solo female travel (insert: me) which I can appreciate.  Similarly to Hostel Geeks, most of her reviews are based in Europe.  So while her site was invaluable to me during my trip, I would be unable to use it when I expand my travels on my next trip. 

Hostelworld

The main reason Hostelworld is clutch is because it actually has an app so I can peruse through on my phone.  It's like the Hotels[dot]Com of Hostels.  Thousands of people have left their reviews in various categories such as, value for money, security, location, staff, atmosphere, cleanliness, and facilities.  So as I previously mentioned, once you know your non-negotiables, this is extremely beneficial.  I also love that there are plenty of reviews worldwide. My one gripe with HostelWorld is sometimes novice travelers leave negative reviews which can throw off the balance of a hostel's rating.  I'd encourage you to look through the most recent comments to get an overall feel.  

*A brief note, while I look through HostelWorld to get reviews and prices, I try to book directly with hostels as much as I can.  Only if I notice a price difference (which did happen twice with HostelWorld being cheaper), I would book with the app. 

 


Find your non-negotiables.

Realistically, with hostels, you have to accept that you will not be in a 5-star hotel, but there is no excuse for you to not be comfortable.  There are plenty of sites that offer filters for you to sort through what you would like to see prior to committing.  This is why I highly suggest you creating a list of your non-negotiables before securing lodging.  For me, I needed security,  stable wifi, air conditioning, clean bathrooms, and the ability to walk around / be close to public transportation.  Most of the other options like a pool or bar were flexible, but wonderful bonuses.  You have to know what works for you, otherwise you will be miserable.

Speaking of being miserable, I am sure you are curious to how I made the best of my experience sharing a bedroom with up to 20 other strangers (yep, did it in London in a room with 21 women). Fret not! My next post will guide you into making wise hostel-based decisions so check back soon.

Hostel Life 101: Choosing The Right One

Do you have a favorite hostel from your travels? Are you adamantly opposed  to the being about that hostel life? Sound off in the comments!