How do you choose a hostel? Do you look for something that is centrally located to places you want to see? Or centrally located to the busses and trains? Or does it need to have facilities you are looking for when trying to find a place to stay? Does budget factor into your choices? How about reviews? Do you read what other people are saying about the hostels you are thinking about booking for your trip?
For me, I would love for it to be centrally located to public transportation but I am fine if it isn’t. It is always nice if it is within walking distance from the busses or trains. Or at least walking distance to the nearest metro that will take me to the hostel.
As for facilities I would want included in the room. I always stay in dorm rooms even though hostels do offer private rooms. I would rather experience the cities I am visiting and see the sights then spend an outrageous amount of money on a hotel room. Plus, with hostels, it helps you meet other travelers on the road. Like-minded people like yourself who is out there seeing more of the world around them. So for facilities …… it has to have key card access to the room, 24 hour reception or more specifically no lock-out. I once stayed in a hostel in Warsaw that locked the doors around 11 pm so I had to be back at the hostel by then or I would be closed out until the next morning. No lock-out is a must. Lockers in room would be nice but not an absolute must. I have stayed in hostels before that didn’t have lockers and I never had a problem with leaving my backpack in the room. A couple more things I would love for the hostel to have would be free linen (some hostels charge for linen), guest kitchen (would be nice not to have to eat out the entire time I am on the road), laundry (for those times I need to wash my clothes and don’t want to try and find a Laundromat) and last but certainly not least on my list would be breakfast included.
Budget factors into what I am looking for in a hostel. I usually budget around $25 or less a day for the hostel. Then I check out a few different sites to see which hostels are available for the time I will be in that city. I have checked out hostels on these sites but there are more sites out there that will have a list of places to stay. But these are a few of the ones I have used in the past http://www.hostelworld.com/, http://www.hostels.com/ and http://www.hostelbookers.com/. Some hostels will be more expensive and some I have found to be less expensive then what I have budgeted for them. I always try and stay within my budget. Though I do know sometimes I might end up spending more for a place to stay but it always works out in the end because some places may be less than what I was planning to spend so it evens out.
Reviews are a definite must! That is why they are reviews. Other people have stayed where you are thinking of staying. They have already experienced that hostel. They have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. They know what they are talking about when they say the room they stayed in wasn’t clean or breakfast only consisted of coffee and bread. Or the staff was friendly and gave them tips on what to see. Or the place was one of the cleanest hostels they have ever stayed in and they have stayed in many places during their travels. That is why some hostels might be rated at 68% and others might be 85% or 93% because some of the things the hostel is reviewed on are location, facilities and safety. It is always good to check out the reviews before you book. Just remember each person will experience the same hostel differently. So what one person thinks is clean another person who stays in the same place weeks later may see as dirty. Only you can make the decision to stay at the hostel and make up your own mind on what you thought of it when you leave and move onto the next place.
Reservations? Do you reserve your bed at the hostel for the entire time you will be gone? Do you walk into the hostel in hopes there will be a bed available for you? Or is it a little of both? I tend to do both. I make reservations for the hostel for the first few days of my trip and then when I get to the next place I will be then I walk in and reserve a bed for the days I will be in that city. If one isn’t available then I enquire from the hostel to see if they can give me any suggestions. Only once have I been unable to stay at a hostel because nothing was available and had to pay a bit more then I planned and stay at a hotel.
How do you choose a hostel?