How do you choose a hostel? There are so many to choose from so how do you narrow down your search for the one you plan to reserve? Or do you even reserve a bed? Do you get to the city and go to the first hostel you see? Or do you go to the ‘name’ hostels? The ones you have heard so much about when looking up hostels on the web. St. Christopher’s Inn that has hostels in London, Paris, Prague, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Bruges, Brighton, Bath and Newquay http://www.st-christophers.co.uk/hostels or Wombats that has hostels in Berlin, Budapest, Munich and Vienna. http://www.wombats-hostels.com
I was lucky when I backpacked through Europe years ago. I did a bit of research and booked hostels in London (St. Christopher’s) and a few other places along the way. The rest of the time I was using Busabout and didn’t have to worry about making a reservation. All I had to do was go through the Busabout site, enter my booking number and book the buses, ferries and beds for the route I was taking. Simple….. If I booked the date I was leaving for Paris then all I had to do when I got off the bus in Paris was follow the guide from Busabout and they would take those of us who were staying in that city to the hostel. They would check us in and then we would pay the hostel direct for the bed. That was then. http://www.busabout.com
This is now….. Completely different story. I had to do a lot more research to book the hostels for next year’s European trip with my nieces. They have never been to Europe before so I am trying to accommodate what I think they would want in a hostel. They have never stayed in one and I feel they should have the experience of sleeping in one and meeting the people who are staying there too. It is one experience that I feel will enhance their trip to Dublin, Paris and Rome. Well, Rome, I haven’t decided if we are staying in a hostel or if we are going to stay in an apartment. So the hostel experience may only consist of Dublin and Paris.
I made a list of facilities I was looking for in a hostel:
Key card access
24 hour reception
No lock-out (no curfew)
Ensuite (prefer but not a must)
Laundry facilities (prefer but not a must)
Lockers in room (prefer but not a must)
Air conditioning or ceiling fan (travelling in June so this is a must)
I never realized how exhausting it could be to try and find a hostel that would work for the three of us. Especially since I know my sister would feel better if we stayed in a dorm room that was female only. I have stayed in mixed dorm rooms before and never had a problem. Trying to accommodate my sister and make her feel more at ease with me taking her daughter to Europe for two weeks. I think she has seen the movie, ‘Taken’ one too many times. I can only imagine how she would feel if she saw any of the ‘Hostel’ movies that in no way depicts the realities of staying in a hostel. It is so far removed and based more in fiction then in reality.
After weeks of research, I finally found two hostels that I booked for the trip. One has everything on my list except for lockers in the room. Everything else about it is perfect and I haven’t even been there yet.
Vintage Hostel in Paris is centrally located to Gare du Nord which is what I wanted. Still checking on some of the facilities since I am not sure how I feel about the rooms being cleaned from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm as well as the use of the kitchen being from 11:00 am – 10:00 pm. I know we will be gone for most of the day seeing the sights but what if I want to get back into my room before 4:00 pm. Will I not be allowed to enter which makes no sense since I paid for the room? I have to think about this and if I think we can live with this during our stay. Otherwise, I feel that Vintage Hostel has everything else I was looking for in a hostel. http://www.vintage-hostel.com/index.php
As for Rome, I found a site that offers B&B’s, guesthouses and apartments. All you have to do is click on the city listed, type in the dates you are wanting to book and the number of people for the reservation. That’s it. Then you will see a list of what is offered for the dates as well as the description of the B&B, guesthouse or apartment and then you can proceed with making a reservation. I haven’t made one yet but it looks like you will find out within a few days if the property you want to book is available. If it is then you would pay a deposit which is deducted from the total. You would pay the balance upon check-in to the property. http://www.cross-pollinate.com. I am pretty sure I am going to do this for Rome.
So how do you choose the right hostel for you? I told you my thought process and now I would love to hear yours.