When you’re searching for accommodation online, where in the world do you start? Right, with the city you’re headed for… but you soon realise that the city is huge, and all the hostels are a similar price. So how do you pick? Is location the best deciding factor?
Check our top ten most important things to consider to prevent you from getting scammed or staying somewhere that makes you feel like you want to leave straight away…
LOCATION IS IMPORTANT, BUT WHAT DO YOU WANT?
Reading a review saying ‘good location’ isn’t enough to tick that box. It really depends on what you are personally after. While one person wants to be close to the bars for a short walk home, another person might value a quiet night of sleep much more. Look at exactly where the hostel is on the map and what you will be close to. What do you want to be close to?
READ THE REVIEWS THAT AREN’T DISPLAYED
Often, sites like Booking.com promote only the best reviews next to the photographs, so after a quick flick through, you might think it’s all sweet and are ready to book! But, check other sites too – especially ones that aren’t completely saturated with reviews from everyone-that’s-ever-been-on-holiday-ever. Make sure you focus on the reviews from younger, more recent travellers. One way to do this is to download our app so reviews from people like you are always with you on your smartphone.
IS IT A PURPOSE-BUILT HOSTEL?
Cheap and affordable travel has become so popular that often in Europe, locals are looking at tourism to make an extra buck and turning their apartments into ‘hostels,’ renting beds by the bunk. While there’s nothing scammy about this, it gives a totally different atmosphere to a place that is purpose-built for travellers, equipped with what every good hostel should have, and spends money on your experience and marketing because they care about their reputation and returning customers! If it’s not purpose-built, it’s possible the owner might be sleeping in the kitchen. Bad vibes. Nobody wants this. Read about our vibe rating in number 7.
ARE THERE LOCKERS IN THE ROOMS?
It’s pretty standard these days to have lockable lockers in each dormitory room, but some hostels still don’t have these. It’s a bit of a pain because you’re stuck with lugging your valuables around with you or worrying about them all day. Check the description and the photos to make sure they are there and working.
IS THE BATHROOM AN ENSUITE OR IN THE CORRIDOR?
Some travellers feel quite strongly about this and will only book somewhere with a bathroom outside the room. While you might have the best intentions to sleep through the night and into the morning, fellow guests may have other ideas, waking you up with the light, sounds and smells of the bathroom at all hours. Ushering all this traffic out into the hall and away from the bedrooms makes for a much more peaceful sleep.
WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM THE KITCHEN?
You probably don’t want to be cooking a roast dinner in the hostel but it’s worth checking out the equipment in the photos – is there a microwave and a kettle? If you’re wanting to cook: is there a decent stove and oil to use with it? At the least, you’ll want to re-fill your water bottles here and often a quick bowl of breakfast at the hostel will save you eating out… More money for beers later!
ARE OTHER LIKE-MINDED TRAVELLERS STAYING HERE?
If you want to meet people along the way, you need to stay at the right hostels. We know the pain of turning up somewhere to realize that you’re missing all the action, so we’ve created a vibe rating on our app. If you’re not getting a good vibe, you’re not going to have a good time – so make sure you check this out to begin with to see where other young travellers in your age group are enjoying themselves the most!
WHAT PERKS ARE THERE?
Some hostels offer the most standard, basic facilities and you can only hope that they’re clean. Others go a little bit beyond to give you a quality experience – and it’s these gems you want to look out for. Do you get a towel included (so you don’t have to use your lightweight, microfibre one)? Is there free tea and coffee? Does the hostel organise any day trips or nights out? What do you think you might be interested in?
WHAT IS YOUR BUDGET?
The average price of a hostel is different in each city and/or country in Europe. If you’re budget is generally the cheapest one available, think about what this means to you! If you’ll pay €15 a night in France, €10 a night in Portugal, €12 a night in Spain, when you get to Eastern Europe maybe you can pay the same budget and have a very decent place, rather than going for the cheapest – €5 – and probably sleeping in an apartment-with-bunks.
ALWAYS SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE!
While you’re booking – choose wisely – and after you have booked and stayed, remember to review your own stay honestly. By all means use the big rating sites, but be sure to pop your thoughts on Trafari first to help other travellers similar to you choose the best stay for them. Tag #trafari in your posts to let us know how you’re going. Helping each other out improves our individual experiences and prevents travelling SOSs!
Stay safe out there and happy booking with these tips :)