Sun & Moon Hostel – Barcelona by Oh-Barcelona
We noticed the other day that there’s a whole lot of articles out there about how to choose a good hostel, or what makes one hostel better than the others. Having been in the hostelling industry a while, we were a little surprised by some of the facilities now considered to be the norm by travelers. Some things, like a free breakfast, did not used to be a guaranteed inclusion but many backpackers now seem to expect it.
We suppose it isn’t that surprising that people’s standards have gotten higher in the last few years. It isn’t just that costs are increasing globally. It’s also that there are more people than ever sharing their opinions and giving feedback on hostels. Before a traveler could only find out about whether a hostel was good or bad from other people in the physical world, like friends and fellow travelers. Now they can now learn about a hostel on the other side of the world, from people they’ll never meet. We think there’s little doubt that standards in hostels have increased as a result of this online sharing.
So, with all this new information, including our aggregate website Hostelzoo that takes all the hostels from all the booking engines and puts them in one place, how can you really be sure whether a hostel will suit you or not? We decided that we’d put together a little list. It’s not necessarily what you should LOOK for, or what a hostel MUST have. Instead it’s a list of things to think about when you’re booking a hostel online.
Consider Where You Are
Are you heading to an inner city hostel? Or is a beach hostel your destination? Is the country/city you’re in developed or still developing? Are you paying a higher rate, or a lower one? These are all factors that might influence what you can (and probably should) expect in a hostel. For example, a hostel near the beach might provide discounts on surfing, while a city hostel could organize free or discounted walking tours.
When considering where you are, make sure you think about where your potential hostel is in relation to the places you want to visit nearby. If the hostel you’ve chosen is more remote than others, it would be logical for them to offer transport to activities or central areas.
Think About What You Really Need
Everyone has a different style of traveling, and as a result of this most people will expect different things from the places that they stay at. With online booking you can choose hostels that offer the facilities that you require to have an enjoyable stay. Most search engines, including Hostelzoo, offer options to refine your hostel searches to properties that have free wifi or provide breakfast. So, if you’re looking to stay in a hostel with these facilities, make use of search engines and don’t expect a hostel to have something it doesn’t list.
There is an absolute wealth of knowledge online from backpackers, travelers, nomads and everything in between about hostels. In this age of social sharing, hostels are not only getting reviewed more regularly, but also in a more in-depth way by travelers eager to share their stories. Hostelling websites often provide two ways of looking at a property: through a rating and also with a review. But, it is worth reading the reviews instead of just looking at the property rating to get an idea of why people may have rated a hostel lower. This is especially true if what they disliked is something that doesn’t bother you that much, like noise from partying. It is also important to remember to take reviews with a grain of salt as a single overly negative or positive experience can skew a rating.
Another way to get an idea of a hostel is to see if you can find them on social media platforms like facebook and twitter. Some people who don’t write reviews with hostel booking engines will leave messages and feedback on a facebook page, making it a useful resource for potential guests.
Expert Tip: If you want to join the review writing community after your next hostel stay, think about the people reading your feedback while they look for a place to stay. They want information that will help them, not a few words that do little to assist them. We hate looking for a hostel and seeing a rating of 37% with a review that says only “good location”. If it was a good location, why rate the hostel so low? Be sure to explain yourself!
Hostel by Peter Gene