Let me just start with a disclaimer:
The best hostel will completely depend on your own personal experience.
Just like destinations, if you meet the most amazing fellow travellers and have the absolute best time of your life, you will have a fond memory of that location. If you had a run in with the champion snorer on the bottom bunk or something was stolen from your bag, you will forever detest that place.
But here are some handy hints on which hostels to avoid to get your trip off on the right foot:
#1: The ridiculously cheap one
Price is usually the ultimate deciding factor, as accommodation is probably the most expensive part of your journey. However just going for the cheapest option will not always get you the best or even cheapest experience or even the best deal in the long run.
Is it out of town? You’ll need to pay for more Metro tickets instead of walking.
No free breakfast? You’ll need to pay for groceries to make breakfast/lunch
No kitchen? You’ll spend way more eating out for every meal
Additional Extras? Some cheaper hostels sneak in fees like €3 linen fee or city tax on top of the nightly cost
Unfortunately, as with most things in life, when you pay more, you usually get more.
#2:The one which kicks you out between eleven and two
Yup you read correctly. Some hostels have a daily cleaning routine meaning you must vacate the lodging between set hours of the day. This is a huge pain and should be avoided at all costs. Nothing is worse than having to get up and go wandering through the city when you’re nursing a hangover, and it just makes you feel like your mum is kicking you out so she can vacuum your room.
#3: The one with no wifi
Wifi should be a given in today’s age, and if there are reviews about the terrible wifi connection or even (gah) no wifi you’re going to have a frustrating stay.
Also as a rule of thumb, try to avoid places with no wifi in the rooms – it’s just such a pain to have to sit awkwardly in a hallway when you’re trying to Facetime mum.
#4: The one in the middle of nowhere
You do not want to be lugging your bag halfway across town or leaving at 5am for a 9am bus if the hostel does not have good accessibility to public transport.
Also, take note of when you will be arriving or departing the city when booking your hostel. The last thing you want is to have to walk down a dark alley way and across two highways at 1am.
#5: The one with crap reviews
Hostelworld has a great bank of reviews and experiences from past travellers, and as a rule of thumb, the overall rating is usually pretty accurate. Of course, if someone had an argument with a staff member they will rant about it, but if no one else mentions it, it was obviously a one off. Take reviews into consideration, but it shouldn’t be the deciding factor.
Photos: Hostels will show you the best possible angles and rooms in these photos. So if they still look abhorrent, best to keep looking.
Security: Some people are more conscious of security than others, and depending what you are travelling with, you can weigh up how important having a locker or locked bedroom door is to you.
Staff: It always benefits if the staff are friendly, helpful and can offer detailed information about the location, however unless there are multiple complaints about employees in the reviews, staff shouldn’t be a crucial factor.
Cleanliness: This is more of a personal choice. If you are a germaphobe and multiple reviews are about the state of the bathrooms or kitchen, probably not best for you. If you don’t particularly care and the price is significantly cheaper, just slap on your flip flops and don’t touch any surfaces.
#6: The one which will lock you out
Something that cannot be stressed enough is to ensure that the hostel’s reception is open when you plan to arrive. Otherwise, you will literally be out on the street. Hostels should include this information in their About section on Hostelworld or on their website, and if you think you are going to be delayed, email or call ahead so they stay open and wait for you.
READ NEXT: This month’s Feature Hostel: The Cowshed Bunkhouse