What makes a good hostel? How do you avoid the bad ones? After staying in hundreds of hostels since I first started traveling the world, I’ve become quite adept at figuring out very quickly if the hostel owners know what they are doing or just randomly woke up one day and said “Let’s open a hostel. It sounds like fun.”
While hostels are all about the people, management can do a few things to make their hostel a lot less crappy and a lot more awesome. Certain features make a hostel memorable (common rooms, group activities, and kitchens) while others can make them suck (push-button showers, general filth, and unknowledgeable staff).
All of my favorite hostels share common traits that make them some of the best in the world, which leads me into this week’s video.
In it, I talk about the six main things that I look for when I’m picking a hostel to stay in, features that every good hostel should have.
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Additionally, here are some smaller things to look out for:
- Breakfast – Look for a place with a decent breakfast (i.e., more than bread and cheese) or at least one that begins and ends when people are actually awake (breakfasts that start around 8:30 usually go late). Breakfast is also a great way to load up on snacks for the day, cutting down your food budget.
- Check-out time – Never stay at a hostel with a check-out time before 10am; the best ones have won’t make you check out until 11am or later. Sleep is valuable on the road because you’ll rarely get enough of it. Hostels with late checkout times understand this.
- Lockers – It’s surprising, but I’ve actually been in hostels that don’t provide lockers or will charge you for them. In this day and age, lockers should be standard, and you should never pay for security. This is a deal-breaker for me (especially since I travel with electronics).
- Kitchen – Try to look for hostels with kitchens since you can then prepare your own food, lower your food budget, and share a meal with your new friends. Nothing binds people closer together than a shared meal (and a few glasses of wine).
What makes hostels great are the people. A top-rated hostel can be home to an unpleasant experience if the people are bad, while you can fondly remember the dirtiest, grossest, and most disgusting hostel in the world if you enjoy good company while you’re staying there.
But removing people from the equation, I look for hostels that have many of these qualities I’ve mentioned. Great, memorable hostels know what you want as a traveler and will enhance your travel experience.
What do you look for in a good hostel?