Good hostels are always difficult to find. The reason why a youth hostel is better than another is more to do with the people who stay there.
I stayed in hostels that really looked like landfills but had a lot of fun being there, thanks to the people who lived there.
On the other hand, I have already stayed in luxurious inns but where I was bored to death! As the saying goes, it is not where you are that matters but who you meet.
Nevertheless, it is always more pleasant to stay in a place that knows the needs of a traveller.
Here are my tips for choosing your youth hostel.
How to find a youth hostel
Personally, I always go through the Hostelworld website to find a hostel. After doing my research, I rank the hostels according to the most popular and highest rated. So I’m never disappointed.
When booking you will be charged only 10% of the total amount, the rest is to be paid on site, so don’t forget to say that you have made an advance when you arrive at the hostel! I noticed that they tend to forget it and I have often found myself taxed more than 10%.
Another advice, I recommend that you do not book more than one or two nights.
My advice for choosing the right one
A CHEAP YOUTH HOSTEL DOES NOT MEAN BETTER
Low budget travellers tend to go to really cheap inns.
However, do not try to save money just to save money. Many cheap inns are unhealthy, beds are uncomfortable, showers dirty, and pillows thinner than a towel. Feel free to pay one or two euros more to have a more comfortable place. Your body will thank you.
AN INN WITH OR WITHOUT BREAKFAST?
One thing I don’t like very much in some hostels is that they call breakfast “2 toasts and a coffee”. And you have to take it at 7:00 in the morning. I don’t know many travellers who would be ready to get up at this hour for even a good breakfast.
So try to find a place with a real breakfast or at least one that starts and ends when people are really awake.
Having breakfast is a great way to fill up for a good part of the day, reducing your food budget.
ATTENTION TO THE DEPARTURE TIME
Never stay in a hostel with a departure time before 10am, the best hostels have a check-out around 11am and the really good ones allow you to leave until noon. Sleep is precious on the road and becomes increasingly rare when you travel, so it is an important factor.
LOCKERS AND SAFES
It’s really amazing, but I’ve already seen hostels that didn’t offer lockers or asked you to pay for one. Nowadays lockers should be a standard, especially since you tend to travel with a lot of electronic devices (camera, laptop), it’s always more pleasant to know your things safely.
If there are none, I recommend you read my article on the 9 tips to avoid being robbed while travelling.
Whether it is to skyp with your family or answer personal or professional emails, internet travel has become a must-have these days!
A hostel with free WI-FI and computers at your disposal makes life much easier. You won’t have to look for an Internet café.
Most of the hostels I went to offered free internet access.
Otherwise it is not the case, you can still read my article on how to have internet when travelling.
I noticed quite late in my travels that some hostels had a bar, it is not necessary but very pleasant. Generally it is the sign of a very good atmosphere since the managers emphasize fun and festive evenings.
And it’s a great way to socialize with the other occupants of the hostel.
If the hostel does not have a bar, it should have at least one large common area. The best hostels are those that give travellers a place to socialize and relax. For me, an inn without a common room is really not pleasant. Common spaces facilitate interaction and help solo travellers connect with others.
The best hostels I know all have a great common room.
A hostel does not need to have each of these criteria, but it should have a majority to be considered a comfortable place. Apart from the above criteria, I am flexible on everything else.
What makes a hostel pleasant are the people you meet there, and even if it is the worst hostel, it will remain pleasant to you thanks to the people you meet.
But remove people from the equation, and only the criteria mentioned above will remain. A hostel that knows your expectations as a traveller will make your experience a better one.
And do you have any criteria for selecting a youth hostel?