How to choose your hostel? Hostelsclub's guide to 10 important choices
How to choose the perfect hostel?
One question, 10 answers: we have created a list of 10 criteria that every decent backpacker has to consider when choosing a hostel.
Of course, we also cannot forget to mention reviews: the essential tool of the digital age, it's the best way to reveal defects and problems as well as hidden gems of a property behind the perfect patina of wonderful photos and perfectly written descriptions.
- 1. POSITION
In the heart o the city, hidden in the suburbs or immersed in the green countryside: every hostel has a unique position! Some travellers may like a central position, such as in the 3 Ducks Hostel, which is only 12 mins on foot from the Eiffel Tower, wedged between incredible boutiques in the shopping area that Paris is famous for, the Beaugrenelle: you can't get more central than that!
A need that is shared by the most intellectuals of travellers to party lovers: every self-respecting pub crawl needs a centrally located hostel that you can stumble back to at the end of the night. The All Nations Backpackers, for example, is surrounded by the urban life of Melbourne, and at only 30 euro a night you can make the most of the best pubs and restaurants in the city, and you can even come home at dawn (the 24hr reception service is much appreciated!).
Credits: @All Nations Backpackers Hostel website
For everyone who might instead be travelling for work, there are many hostels that are located just a stone's throw from the main train stations of cities or not far from airports. The A&O Hostel Venezia Mestre, the latest hostel to become part of the worldwide chain, can be found right in front of the Mestre train station, which has constant connections to the major cities in the Veneto region but also at the centre of public transport heading towards Venice. The first breakfast is even included in the price, and with a late-check out option and ample parking, the combination of buisness + hostel is possible!
- 2. SECURITY
One of the most difficult myths to bust is that hostels are untrustworthy places, where you can become the victim of theft, and where personal security is pretty much unheard of. In reality, hostels can confirm in all honesty that they have reached the same standards of security as hotels: 9 dorms out of 10 now have private lockers where you can lock up your most valuable items.
In addition, you can often find safes at the reception (they are even free at the YHA Hostel in Turin!), and you can usually find staff on duty ready to help you 24 hours a day. Such is the case at the Centre Esplai Hostel, which is completely eco-friendly (as demonstrated in their solar panels) that also provides the services of a 5-star hotel: a gym, swimming pool and auditorium able to hold up to 300 people.
Working with technology, some luxury hostels are pushing even further to guarantee the maximum security of their guests: The Safestay York hostel (it says it all in the name) offers a sophisticated closed-circuit video surveillance system and magnetic keycards for all its guests).
- 3. CLEANLINESS
From one stereotype to the next, another legend about hostels is that they are a mass of filthy rooms where sweaty teenagers leave the clothes on the floor, and the communal showers become a pool of germs and stains. Well, just two words are enough to convince you that this is not the case: Design Hostel. If cleanliness is by now at the top of the list of priorities for hostels (and let's not pretend that Hotels are perfect either), then design hostels have taken it to a new level, to the point where cleanliness has become a design feature.
Within this group of hostels, let's say the crème de la crème of low cost accommodation with a touch of style, is the ONE 80° Hostels Berlin, the gem of Berlin, complete with a pub and club inside. But there's more: if new towels and perfumed sheets are not welcome enough, the Gallo D'Oro Hostel has daily room cleaning. Yes, we are still talking about hostels; and no, it's not a dream!
- 4. ROOM TYPE
Families, buisnessmen and women, young lovers: there is space for everyone in a hostel! For all our solo-travellers in search of a partner in crime, dormitories are the perfect solution: the traditional advatage in hostels, where dorms usually come in 4,6,8 and 10 beds to a maximum of 40 backpackers in one room! And sharing you room comes with multiple benefits as it is at the heart of a hostel expirience, as the dorm becomes a place where you can forge new friendships, romances, and where expiriences, cultures and languages can all meet in a sytlish and comfortable space.
You just need to take a look at the dormitory in Tresor Hostel in Ljubljana: bright colours, a clean and modern design and... metal bars? (the hostel is located in the old bank of the city, and they are kept the original cell structure!)
But did you know, hostels are not (or at least are no longer) just dormitories: 8 out of 10 properties now offer a wide range or private rooms with private en-suit bathrooms. The Generator Berlin Mitte hostel offers a cocktail bar and games room, before you can head off to your private room (even though we can bet that with the themed parties that the hostel organises that you will soon change your mind!).
And while we're here, here is a photo of the shared bathroom at First Hostel Bucharest: you have to admit, it's almost as shiny and bright as your bathroom at home! And yet another myth has been dispelled!
- 5. COMMUNAL AREAS
In new generation hostels, there seems to be a space for everything. The kitchen is where you can enjoy a late brunch, a midnight snack or a dinner with other hostels, and so really is a must for any decent hostel. Just take a look at the kitchen of the Soul Kitchen hostel, with shiny counters, design details and equipment it is the envy of any restaurant, but it still has a relaxed and dynamic atmosphere that characterizes life in a hostel.
If you start to feel a bit lonely in your private room then you just need to head towards the sitting room of your hostel: this is the social heart of each property, where each afternoon chatting and board game playing can be heard... and of course there are usually comfy sofa's and open spaces where you can relax, such as those at the Wallyard Concept Hostel (which has also been voted as one of our most stylish hostels!).
Going up a level, we can even find hostels with communal games rooms such as in the Pars Tailor's Hostel, and for those of you looking for a place where you can have some chilled nights-in then the Stay Rhodes Hostel offers not just a tv in the sitting room, but also a real cinema room perfect for any movie lovers!
If instead, you can't imagine spending your holiday's without reading a few books, then the Grand Hostel Berlin is the perfect solution for you: with a real, well-stocked library at your disposition, itself within a cocktail bar with the hostel... you can feed both your body and mind!
Luxury hostels take as completely to another planet, where for 23 euro a night you can swim under the light of the moon in a panoramic swimming pool in Mountain Hostel Tarter, surrounded by the natural beauty of Andorra, or you can keep in shape in the Vintage Hostel, where after some crepes and croissants you can burn of the delicious Parisian food in the hostel's gym.
- 6. WIFI AND EXTRA SERVICES
A backpacker's worst nightmare? Finding a hostel without free wifi (after snoring roommates and a lack of clean socks)! Luckily we are now in 2018 and its very rare to find a hostel without free wifi, and some even offer computers for their guests to use such as Sant Jordi Alberg, where you can keep in contact with friends and family via Skype at home.
But the hotel level services don't finish there: airport shuttles, washing rooms, printing areas, USB plugs and reading lights for each bed, luggage deposits, irons, adaptors... really, what more could you want?
- 7. STAFF
They are the people that make or break a hostel (even if the panoramic terrace at the Alcazaba Premium Hostel surely helps), and the staff are often the most appreciated people in a hostel!
Unlike hotels that greet you formally at the entrance of hotels, the staff behind the reception desk will be just like you, young workers (and often entrepreneurs) whose nostalgia for backpacking has kept them in the world of hostels, in one way or another.
It's not a mechanism when we say that 99% of the time the staff will become your personal guide: who better than a local to tell you what to visit in a city?
- 8. HOSTEL TYPE
Party hostels, Female only Hostels, Eco hostels: hostels for everyone!
If you want to let the party animal in your free, then a Party Hostel is exactly what you need to loose all your inhibitions: the cocktail bar at Echo Beach Backpacker in the heart of Thailand is located right on the beach. Perfect for any traveller looking to enjoy a Half Moon or full moon party, Jungle Experience, Black Moon, Waterfall Party, Shiva Moon, Loi Lay floating Bar party. The choices are endless..
For those of you that wish to concentrate their energies on the environment around us, there are also hundreds of Eco Hostels scattered across the world, ready to teach you about taking care of nature. Tourism doesn't have to destroy the environment! Take the Tribo da Praia Eco hostel, which has been built using recycled, reworked and reused materials: entire rooms are made with walls of wood!
And what about our female travellers who want to travel solo? Welcome to Female Hostels: where dorms dedicated to women, when soap, hair dryers and mirrors are provided! A perfect example would be the Cocomama Hostel in Amsterdam, that can offer you 100% secure accommodation in the center of the city.
- 9. FUN
There is no end to the fun and adventures in a hostel. When you have a property such as the Five Elements Hostel, with spectacluar interior and exterior design elements, it's impossible not to have fun! Here, there is something new on offer every evening: football tornaments, local food tastings, special cakes, film evenings, kareoke, night-time bike rides... without forgetting the most famous pub crawl in all of Frankfurt, which is completely free!
Credits: Five Elements Hostel Facebook account
Some hostels have so much on offer (such as the Lagas Hostel) that they have to write everything up on a giant blackboard, so you know exactly what is happening each day!
In the best cases, a hostel is the social centre of the whole city, where even locals come to visit, such as at the Essaouira Youth Hostel and Social Travel where you can enjoy windsurfing, kite surfing, swimming and volleyball courses.
An honourable mention also goes to The Salty Pelican Beach Hostel, that organises free yoga lessons on the beach.
- 10. BREAKFAST AND DINNER
Breakfast deserves an entire category of it's own. Breakfast is a time when you can get to know other travellers.
Ostello Bello Milano offers an incredible free breakfast at any time of the day (yes, you read it right!): yogurt, milk, muesli, cereal, fresh fruit... you name it, the hostel will have it! And as if that wasn't enough, there is also a FREE buffet dinner!
And we have to finish with mentioning Sophie's Hostel in Prague. For only 5 euro, you can try a range of tasty dishes... to fill your Instagram with pictures of plates of incredible food!