We’ve been traveling for over 2 months now and for the majority of the time we’ve been out here, we have been staying in hostels. It’s fair to say we’ve had a few really horrible ones and a few really good ones. I think we’ve near enough nailed how to get the best hostel out of the bunch available, and I’m going to share that with you now!
We generally book all of our stays through Hostel world, which is my first tip. Whilst you can book through hostels directly and through other websites like booking.com, I think hostel world is the best place to find the good hostels…even if you choose to book through a different method after. Hostel world has all the hostels listed, with the most important features of hostels rated by those who have stayed there. They give each hostel a rating out of 10 and they also give ratings for things like security, atmosphere and cleanliness (as well as others). The best and most valuable part of the app for me is the reviews, both myself and Mat love to read reviews and it’s really what helps us make our decision..because they’re honest accounts of peoples stays, not Just the owner singing their hostels praises online. I read at least 5-10 reviews and the reviews also show who made the review (their age and their party size etc) which we obviously bare in mind. You can also look at a map of the island/city/town where you’re visiting and select a hostel in a specific location which is super helpful.
When reading about the hostels location, facilities and security etc, it’s important to decide what’s important to you. No hostel is going to have absolutely everything and tick all of the boxes. So what are you looking for in a hostel? Are you looking for atmosphere? Or are you looking for a great location or is cleanliness a necessity? Myself and Mat have realised that there’s generally 3 things that people look for, and you never get all three at the same time, those three being cleanliness, price and atmosphere. Often with a really clean place for a good price, you sacrifice the atmosphere. Similarly, often you can get a super clean hostel with a good atmosphere, but you sacrifice on the price. So when making a decision, decide what you’re willing to sacrifice and what’s a necessity for you and base your decision on that.
A few of the main things we’ve realised are important to us are location, cleanliness and value for money. Location is key, because even if you get there and it’s not how you imagined, if you’re central and near all the activities, you don’t have to spend much time at the hostel and all you need to do in the hostel is shower and sleep! You also don’t want to be in a great hostel that’s really far out of town, what if it’s a great price to stay at but the food and drinks they sell are expensive? You’re either spending money on getting to and from the centre where the cheap food and drink is, or you are unnecessarily on food and drink there to avoid the cost of getting to and from the town centre.
Cleanliness is really important to me, Mat not so much, but definitely me. There’s nothing I hate more than being in a bed that feels dirty, or like the sheets haven’t been changed…I’d sacrifice almost anything for clean bedding! It is however important to bare in mind that if you’re reading reviews about hostels on the beach, they’re cleanliness tends to be a lot lower, because of the sand!
Value for money is obviously hugely important for us when we are on such a long trip. We often get private rooms in hostels for cheaper than dorm rooms, so it makes sense to get a private room. Often when you stay in party hostels you pay more just because of the name it has and the ‘atmosphere’ it supposedly has!
A great way to find a hostel suited to you is to ask people you’ve met/have been spending time with. If you’re in a hostel you’re really enjoying, ask other people where they’ve been/are going…you’d never recommend a hostel that you’re not totally confident in and other people will be the same! So trust their suggestions and consider booking somewhere they have stayed and enjoyed themselves, chances are if you’re both enjoying the current hostel, you likely enjoy the same type of hostel…plus it saves you doing the research!
Another way to choose a good hostel if you have nothing that’s really important to you in a hostel, is to just see what’s popular. Look on different websites and see what’s been booked a lot that day, or on hostel world, how many beds (out of the size of dorm) are left. Is it the day before and there’s 8/8 beds available? Why is that do you think?
I hope you’ve found this useful, I thought that I’d end this post by sharing a few of our favourite hostels on this trip so far (included our ratings!)
Best of luck with your hostel search, don’t be afraid to book just one night at a hostel and test it out, if you like it…Extend! But don’t be afraid to move about and try as many places as you can, every hostel will offer something entirely different!
Until next time,