Every person has different tastes in terms of the place they want to stay. Whether traveling with friends, a partner or alone there are several key elements to be considered when making your decision about where to rest your weary head. We have put together a list of the top nine things to take note of when booking a hostel.
Nowadays it’s pretty easy to find user ratings on the internet. Most decent hostels have at least equipped themselves with a basic website so you can suss out what other travelers think of them. Obviously, people who love the hostel and have had a positive experience will give a high rating but more importantly, you will find that people will tend to post comments if they have had an unpleasant experience.
It’s a sad part of life these days that we are eager to give negative feedback at the drop of a hat, may occasionally give positive feedback if we were provided an outstanding experience but are more reluctant to comment if the stay was just pleasant and met our expectations.
One note I will add here is to average out the reviews. It’s becoming all too common for people to post false negative reviews for their competition and phantom positive reviews on their own place. Best to disregard the top few and bottom few and see what’s left.
Due to a tight budget, people tend to look at the price of the hostel first before anything else. Some people believe that the price alone can tell what the hostel is like. Instinct would tell us that an expensive hostel is a better place to stay than that low-rate hostel (I’m sure you will agree that this is not always the case). Still, this may not be your only basis when booking for a hostel because more often than not there are cheap hostels that offer excellent services that are keen to grab your business from their higher-priced competitors.
The ambiance of the hostel is the place’s atmosphere, its heart, and soul. Is the place quiet or rowdy? Is it an older crowd or teenagers backpacking for the first time? Location can be a big factor in the ambiance of the hostel too. For example, if it is close to the nightlife you will more than likely find a younger, more social crowd.
For me personally, this is probably the key factor in determining where I stay when traveling. The accessibility of the place is really important. Is the place near the airport or transportation if – I’m just transiting? How close are the major sites and attractions? Is it in a noisy part of town and I will be kept awake all night by the sound of sirens?
The location can have an effect on other factors too. If the hostel is not in the center of town or close to the sites, the money you may have saved on the room will be wasted on the transportation needed to get you there.
Consider how big the rooms are and how many people will you be sharing with. Hostels usually offer more than one room type so find the one that’s best for you. You can opt to stay in a single room, a double or multi-share. It is also important for you to know if the rooms are same sex or mixed (especially for girls looking for that peace of mind at night).
If they have separate rooms for men and women, make sure that they have rooms for couples too – you don’t want to wake up to the sound of grunting in the bunk next to you.
What facilities does the hostel offer? Like how many bathrooms do they have? What about the electricity and water and some other facilities like the kitchen, swimming pool, and a bar? These days everyone keeps in touch via the web, so do they have free or paid internet access?
Safety is one of the most important things to be considered. Does the hostel have security guards, especially during the night? Is the place secured from fire and does it offer safety from some other unexpected calamities?
What about the security of your belongings? Is there a safety box you can keep your valuable items like your passport?
8. Extras included
Some hostels offer extra services like WiFi, sheets, dinner or breakfast, towels, free pick up from the station or airport etc. Anything you might be getting included in your room rate needs to be factored into the total end cost.
9. What else do I have to pay?
There are hostels who charge for some standard services like using a sleeping bag or a sheet, for meals and sometimes for using the shower.
It is recommended that you research the hostel you want to stay in, to have a comfortable stay and ensure you are getting ‘bang for your buck’. One of my favorite hostels that I have had the pleasure of staying at was the Cloudhostels in Baltimore. This place has it all….check out the bar.