After being semi-exploited by Hollywood, the term hostel surfaces as an un-safe, maniac filled institution that should be avoided at all costs. Rest assured, most of them are not! Although I love my luxury accommodations, there was a point in time where hostels were all I knew and could afford as a 21 year-old study abroad backpacker. Plus, being a solo/newbie traveler, this was my surest way of meeting other travelers similar to me. After making several rookie mistakes (i.e. a 20 person dorm room), I’ve quickly learned what it takes to ensure a pleasant stay at any hostel around the world.
Now, there are many challenges you’ll come across when residing in an hostel during your vacation. A room filled with 20 strangers; lack of privacy; a public bathroom for an entire floor; the loud snoring; random make out-sessions; or the immature excessive drinking crowd – these are all possible in hostels (and many hotels). However, there are many hostels that provides high-end offerings such as the Adler Hostel in Singapore and Casa Garcia in Barcelona, with boutique-style private accommodations that won’t break the bank. Below are my guidelines for selecting the best hostels in town!
TIPS BEFORE SELECTING A HOSTEL
Do your research AND thoroughly read ALL reviews in order to make an informed decisions – just like you would when selecting a hotel.
BEST HOSTEL BOOKING SITES
HOSTEL MUST HAVES
Personal security lockers – Large enough to store a typical carry-on sized hand luggage. This will keep all your belongings safe while you explore the city.
Private rooms – Many hostels offer private rooms for a slightly higher price point (but still affordable). They are equipped with private bathrooms or an en-suite shared with another private room. If not, when selecting dorm-style beds, they should have curtains/sliding doors for guaranteed privacy. If I chose a dorm-style room, it’s 4 people max!
Personal outlets & lamp – Never worry about leaving your electronics unattended while charging in the middle of the night in dorm-style rooms. Also, mini personal lamps allows you to get work done without feeling inconsiderate to your roommates.
Private bathrooms/En-suite (4 people max) – Some hostels only have community bathrooms, which comes with long wait times. Try and pick a room that has either a private room or a shared bathroom with only 4 other individuals.
Free WiFi – In this day and age, NEVER pay for WiFi in any accommodation! Also, the WiFi should be available in all areas, including rooms, not just the reception area.
Free luggage storage – Ensure there is somewhere safe to leave your luggage on departure day.
Central location – Location should be central to all the must-see sites in the city. Also, research safety for the neighborhood where the hostel is located.
Free breakfast – Even if it’s continental, pick a hostel where you have the option to grab some fruits, muffins, and OJ for the road.
Hot water – Yes, some hostels run out of hot water, have a timer, or no hot water at all.
24 Hr/Late Reception – The last thing you want is to arrive in a foreign country at 1AM attempting to enter your hostel based on a written email sent from reception.
Common Area/Bar – This is a great place to meet people if you’re a solo traveler.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE HOSTELS
Adler Hostel – Singapore
St. Christopher’s Inn (The Canal) – Paris, France
El Granado – Granada, Spain
Casa Garcia – Barcelona, Spain
Feel free to share your hostel tips below!
All photos courtesy of Hostel properties listed.