Often when you’re looking for your next hostel to stay, you want to stay in the best hostel or in the cheapest hostel in the city.
Well, to make it easier for you, in most of the cities there are more than one good hostel to choose from and the difference in prices is getting less because the competition is growing.
In my opinion there are 5 steps to take if you want to choose your next hostel:
1. What kind of hostel are you looking for?
2. In which location do you want to stay?
3. Are certain facilities important?
4. What are you willing to pay?
5. What do other travellers think of the hostel?
1. Different kind of hostels
Especially in the cities in Europe there are hostels that cater for different needs. So it’s good to know what kind of hostel you prefer to stay. There are different options to choose from:
- Backpacker hostel
- Party hostel
- Boutique or Luxury hostel
- Chain hostel
Every hostel offers a different experience and that’s why it’s important to know what you prefer so you can get the most out of your stay. In this blog “Hostel: A Cheap Sleep or Much More?” you can read what to expect of a hostel in Europe.
2. Stay in the area where you want to be
If I’m staying for just one night in a city than I always try to make it easier to travel in and out of the city. To stay closer to the main train station, bus station or metro station that brings me into the city, so I don’t have to carry my luggage all around. But if I stay longer in a city, than I don’t mind to travel around a bit more. Although I always try to stay within easy reach of public transportation.
When I visit a city, I first look for the reason why I want to visit that city. And although you can often visit the whole city from your hostel, in my experience you see the area around your hostel the most.
Look at Berlin for example; my main reason to visit Berlin would be to see the famous street art and the remains of the cold war. So if I look at the different areas in Berlin, the city centre, Mitte, would not be the place for me to stay and I would choose Friedrichshain or Kreuzberg for a more urban experience.
3. Choose which facilities the hostel needs to have
The facilities in a hostel can offer you great ease and even save you money. Let me give you some examples. If I’m travelling for a longer period of time than I always choose a hostel with a kitchen. So I can store my drinks and prepare my own meal. But if I’m away for the weekend I like to indulge myself in a restaurant so than my need for a kitchen is less (still I prefer to have some cold drinks in the hostel). Another great facility that I also check is the availability of a free breakfast or at least free coffee and tea, so I’m sure that I have a good start of the day even though I didn’t have time to buy breakfast.
4. Be aware of the extra costs
Ok, I know if you’re travelling for a longer time than you try to stay in a cheaper hostel because you just want to have a place to sleep. But make sure that you know if the hostel is as cheap as it looks. Because there can be different add ons to the price.
- Location: if you have a hostel that is situated outside of the city centre than you often have to pay extra to take the public transport into the city. If you add a return ticket to the price of your hostel, is it still the cheapest option in town?
- Add on: make sure you have a good idea of the extra costs like linen, wifi or breakfast. If you add these costs to the price of the hostel, is it still the cheapest option in town?
- Knowledgeable staff can help you to find the good and cheap places to eat, how to save on your visit etc.
So, sometimes it’s cheaper to choose the hostel where you have to pay a couple of Euros more.
5. What do other travellers think of the hostel
When I started travelling, back then Lonely Planet was THE source to use to decide in which hostel to stay. If they said that it was a good hostel, I would stay there. But I noticed that those hostels were often more run down, more expensive and more crowded. So I started to visit other hostels and I had much better experiences.
Reviews are great and they give a good impression on what to expect. But do take them with a bit of salt (or is that a Dutch saying??). Don’t rely your whole opinion on one review but check out more reviews. And keep in mind that hostels are 24/7 businesses so it can happen that the hostel or the reviewer had an off day.