Hostel 101: Beginners Guide to Hostels


Shea Duplechain

5/17/20236 分钟阅读

Hostel 101

If you're thinking about staying at a hostel on an upcoming trip, or are just curious about hostels in general, this is a comprehensive guide to help you better understand hostels.

What are Hostels?

Hostels are a dormitory style lodging facility that typically house travelers in locations around the world. Hostels are usually a cheaper form of accommodation, due to their dormitory style, and come in all sizes. Some hostels can be locally owned and only be host to a few travelers, while others can be a part of a larger chain that spans across many cities under the same name and host hundreds of travelers simultaneously. You can generally find younger travelers staying at hostels, but in my own experiences I’ve come across people of all ages.

Are Hostels Safe?

Despite how hostels have sometimes been portrayed in media, or what you may have heard from non-travelers, hostels are a safe and affordable accommodation when traveling. In my time traveling I’ve stayed at a number of hostels across many countries and have found my experiences there to be pleasant. This isn’t to say that hostels are exempt from being sketchy, or providing a bad experience, but I find that it is a lot easier to identify what kind of experience you will get from a hostel than it would be for a hotel or airbnb when traveling abroad. There are many apps and websites that you can use to find and book hostels, (I’ll explain how you can do this later on in the article), but also look at reviews and ratings from other travelers.

The dormitory style of accommodation may make some people a little hesitant to stay at a hostel, but I assure you it is not an uncomfortable situation. A lot of times hostels- depending on the size of the hostel- will provide a variety of rooms. Most of the hostels I've stayed at have female only dorms, male only dorms, and mixed dorms. This provides someone with a good variety of who they would be comfortable being in a room with, and help them become accustomed with the dormitory experience. Most of the beds will also have some type of curtains that close around the bed that will provide you with privacy while sleeping or if you’re just wanting some personal time.

All hostels will typically have some type of locker in the room that you can lock away your luggage and personal belongings. The rooms will also always be locked, and only the people staying in that particular room will have a digital or physical key to the room. It's also important to be respectful of other people's space in rooms, like by keeping your items in your own space. This will also be the best way to prevent any of your items from going missing.

Lastly, if you're still hesitant to stay in one of the dorms, most hostels I’ve been to have private rooms. The private rooms are more expensive, but will likely still be cheaper than hotels, and still give you the hostel experience of being around other travelers. There have also been many times where I've gotten an entire multibed room to myself, so it's not always guaranteed that a room will be packed.

Why I prefer Hostels.

Booking accommodations in a foreign place, especially one you don’t speak the language of, can be a stressful process. One of the easiest ways I’ve avoided this is by staying at hostels. The reasoning for this is that oftentimes there will be at least one person there who speaks the same language as me, therefore making the whole process a lot easier. When dealing with hotels or airbnbs you may experience times where there is a language barrier and complicates your situation. When traveling it's important to try and avoid any stressful or overcomplicated situations, as it is the easiest way to ruin a trip.

When I'm traveling, it tends to be on a limited budget and I'm often traveling to multiple destinations in a given period of time. This style of traveling does not really mesh well with traditional styles of accommodations, as they normally require you to book them weeks or months in advance, and are not budget friendly. Hostels have been a cheap and reliable form of accommodation, and they allow me to be flexible when deciding when and where I want to go. I know what I'm getting when I stay at a hostel, and this allows me to put my energy into other aspects of travel and not get bogged down in trying to find a place to stay.

In addition to being cheap and reliable, they are plentiful. You can find a hostel just about anywhere in the world, and most places have a variety of them. When traveling to a particular area, especially cities, there will alway be a number of hostels to choose from. This is helpful not only because you are able to compare hostels and figure out which one best suits you, but also always gives you a wider range of flexibility on where in the city you can stay. Being able to choose a particular area of the city to stay in, and still being affordable, is something only hostels will provide you.

Perhaps the greatest quality of hostels is the environment that they provide to travelers. Hostels are an excellent and safe environment to meet and get to know new people. As an introverted person, I struggle to open up and engage with other people, especially in a new place I'm not familiar with. Hostels provide plenty of opportunities and spaces, even for someone like myself, to organically meet and connect with other people. Whether it be the bar and common areas in the hostel, are the weekly events that most hostels set up for guests like pub crawls and karaoke night, there are plenty of opportunities to break the ice. I’ve been able to meet so many wonderful people from around the world just by simply staying at a hostel.

How to book a hostel.

Hostels are easy to book and normally do not require any advance notice for reservations. The easiest way to book a hostel is by simply just showing up to the hostel. Although I would not recommend this method, oftentimes by just showing up to the hostel you will be able to secure a room at the front desk. I have done this in the past and it has worked for me, but I would recommend you try the other methods in the slightest chance that you show up and they have no beds available.

The method that I use the most is by making a reservation online, which I will usually do the day before I arrive. There are many ways to do this, but I have always used when booking my hostels. They have a great website, but I mostly use their mobile app as it is more convenient when traveling. You just type in your destination and the dates you will be staying, and it shows you all the available hostels in that area. They also list the ratings of each hostel that are generated from guest reviews. If you click on the hostel you can then see a further breakdown on all the guest reviews of that hostel. There are other websites and apps that you can use to book hostels, but I’ve had no reason to use another method, and most of the travelers I’ve met tend to use hostelworld as well.

I generally have a set of criteria that I use before deciding to book a particular hostel and it helped streamline my booking process. The first criteria I have when booking hostels is finding one with a practical location. I want to stay at a hostel near where I'm interested in exploring, but I would also prefer it to be near a train station or bus stop. If your hostel is in a remote area, away from any activities or locations you are wanting to experience, you're going to end up wasting a lot of your time and energy going to and from your hostel. Finding a hostel near a train station or bus stop will also save you a lot of stress when arriving or leaving a new area. Something else that I look for before booking a hostel is checking what the atmosphere of a hostel is like.

When deciding on a hostel, I often compare the atmospheres to one another and pick the one with the best atmosphere. Booking a hostel with a great atmosphere is one of the easiest ways to ensure you’ll have a great time while you’re there. On hostelworld you can see what guests have rated the atmosphere of a particular hostel and compare that with other ratings. My rule of thumb is that anything with a rating of 8.5 or above is a great place to stay. I would say the atmosphere of a place is not as important as the location, but It's nice to have both if possible. If you're in a large city you won’t have a problem finding a place with a good atmosphere, but it may become more difficult the further away you get from large cities. If you are in a remote area or place with limited options, just pick a hostel close to transportation and looks comfortable.

Enjoy your stay!

Hostels have been a key aspect in being able to travel for cheap and be flexible with my time and destinations. If you're traveling for the first time or just looking to travel for cheap, hostels are the best way to secure a safe and comfortable accommodation that is still budget friendly and in great locations. The environment they provide is unmatched when compared to any other form of accommodation, and will put you in the perfect setting to connect with other travelers from around the world. Safe travels!