12 Jun 10 Things to Look for When Choosing a Hostel
Choosing a hostel can be tricky. And while I love staying in hostels and have probably stayed in more hostels now that hotels, there’s always a little bit of nervousness when arriving at a new one. Depending on where you are, most hotels are the same: bed, maybe a TV, small bathroom, locking door, privacy. But hostels can be so varied with great private bathrooms for just 3 or 4 people to a whole floor sharing a couple of stalls with no curtains. But if you know what to look for, where to find the information, and understand your needs, finding a hostel is simple and not an intimidating experience. I’ll share my tips on how to choose a hostel.
10 Things to Look for in a Hostel:
- Room types- As you’ll be sleeping here, you’ll obviously want to know what the rooms are like. You’ll want to know if it’s female or male-only rooms or mixed, how many people there are, what type of beds, and how it’s situated. You want to pick what is most comfortable for you. In an ideal hostel, I’d like only a few people in the room, female-only, and plenty of space for a little privacy. But, that’s not to say I’ve never stayed in the complete opposite. I do all the time, actually. Just take a look to see what you’re getting yourself into and try avoid something you don’t like, or at least be prepared.
- Bathrooms- Maybe even more important are the bathrooms. Since I have very little privacy in the actual dorm, I try to find at least a little privacy in the bathroom. In a perfect hostel, I’d like showers behind locked doors or at least separate stalls where I’m not worried about being walked in on. Whatever you’re comfortable with, just make sure those needs are met before booking. Again, you just want to check what you’re getting yourself into.
- Lockers or luggage storage- You’ll definitely want lockers. Unless there’s some weird circumstances like I’m arriving at 11 pm and leaving at 6 am (so I’ll never be away from my important belongings) I don’t book unless there are lockers in the rooms. Most places have lockers either either under the bed or somewhere in the room and you’ll just need your own lock. This gives me peace of mind whenever I’m out of the room that someone can’t just swipe something.
- Linens- While this isn’t a deal-breaker for me, I’m more likely to stay at hostels that provide bed linens and towels. If I can help it, I’d rather not bring my own linens as it’s just more to put in my bag and I like carrying as little as possible.
- Location- I’m not picky about location but if I find the hostel is in a bad neighborhood, or somewhere that I can’t easily walk to and from, I don’t want to stay there. I want to be pretty much in the middle of things, or at least not far to walk, and in an area I feel safe walking back at night.
- Internet/Wifi- I’m not sure about you, but I need wifi or at least access to a computer. I travel by myself a lot so I at least need to tell people where I am after moving to a new place. Also, working on this blog I get behind and a little antsy if I can’t at least access the site to write and keep up with things on a regular basis. Most places have wifi, but I usually go with places where it’s free, and in all areas of the hostel.
- Breakfast- This also isn’t a deal-breaker but I try to get places with free breakfast because that’s one less meal I have to pay for myself. I try to stay at places with more than just toast and jam as I can fill up and hopefully not eat for a little while. I mean, I am on a budget.
- Extras- I like to look for hostels that offer free walking tours or pub crawls or something to make the the draw to the hostel more than just the price. Like I say later, price is definitely important, and a big reason why I chose hostels over hotels or other accommodation, but I also choose them because I meet so many more people than if I’m holed up in a hotel room. And if the hostel organizes events like this, I’m in a better position to meet people with this “excuse” to start conversations.
- Reviews- I definitely look at sites like hostelworld.com, booking.com, and hostelbookers.com to really see what others have said about their stays. In reviews you can see what the place is really like away from what the hostel says, telling you things you don’t think about- weird smells, maybe, what the food is like, the staff, or what to watch out for. These sites are also great to see pictures of the rooms, bathrooms, and the area surrounding. For the most part I’ve had great luck with the reviews and photos on those sites matching my experiences. I definitely don’t stay in a hostel without at least checking out what other’s have said.
- Price- Obviously price is a factor or else I probably wouldn’t stay in hostels (though I stay in them for other reasons too). I try to keep the price as low as possible but I make sure that all of my necessities are met before deciding on price. While I do want cheap, cheap, cheap, I don’t want to be in a dirty bed, in a bad location, or too scared or uncomfortable to even sleep just to save money.
- Bonus! Security- I often think of this one in the category of room type but I think it’s important to mention it separately. Most hostels have pretty good security both in rooms and at the front doors but it varies greatly between hostels. I’ve stayed at hostels where the front door was wide open and my room didn’t have a lock at all, to places where I had a key card to swipe and number combination to enter (that changed every morning) at every single door, from the front, to the kitchen, to the hall, to my floor, to the elevator, to my room, bathroom, everything. I’ll admit that was annoying but I definitely felt secure. You should definitely check out what security measures there are and make sure you’re comfortable with what they have.
Check out my Reviews Page for some hostel reviews I’ve done during my stays and make sure to comment below if I’ve left anything off the list that you like to check out when staying in hostels.
Also, let me know what you look for in hostels, what do I need to look for, or what am I too cautious about?