How to Book a Backpackers Hostel?
How to Book a Backpackers Hostel?
Booking a hostel is no rocket science, just like choosing hotel to book, there are certain factors to keep in mind while booking hostel. This post talks about some of my tried and tested ways of booking hostel so that you get maximum out of your expected experience.
Choosing a Hostel
Hostels are fun to stay at, but you should have right expectations from the space you stay at.
If certain services are absolutely necessary for you, it would be a good practice to call the hostel and ask if they can provide them or help you out in some way.
For example, if you are landing late at night, it would be wise to call up the hostel and enquire about safety tips, if they can help you hire a reliable cab service, or 24 hour reception for check-in or more. Some of the hostels I worked with did not have a 24 hours reception, but they had night security guard who would understand basic English and was able to help guests even late at night.
If you are traveling with young kids, you would want to look for a hostel that allows tiny humans. All hostels are not meant for kids or teenagers. Please do not judge a hostel just because it is not open to hosting families with kids. Imagine a party hostel with a late-night bar or a club, would your kids be comfortable in that space or would you want your kids to be there? This is just one other example.
Whenever I travel with my parents – yes, my parents have stayed at hostels too (Europe and India both) – I prefer to call the property and ask if we can ensure 2 lower bunk beds or maybe book entire dorm room if they have smaller sized ones. My parents loved staying at those hostels – travel bug is genetically transferred in my family, I guess 😊
Most hostels provide self-service open kitchen, laundry, wi-fi, etc. Read here to know about hostels.
Type of Rooms/Beds
Typically, a dorm room in a hostel holds four to eight beds, sometimes more. These beds are usually bunk beds with 2 bunks – lower and upper. Most hostels provide a bed light and a small utility wall mounted unit (a bag, a rack or a small locker box).
Dorm rooms usually host mix of male and female guests, but most hostels have some separate female only dorm rooms also. Dorm rooms too can come with ensuite washrooms but that is not a given. Thus, it is better to check on the listing or hostel website for more information about washrooms.
Most hostels provide private rooms for single person to 2 people (please check for twin beds or double beds as per your preferences). These rooms are charged at a higher price than a dorm bed. Private rooms are great option for people who want to stay at a hostel but need privacy of a private room. Check for ensuite washroom on listing or website.
Where to Book
I personally book hostels using hostelworld.com or booking.com, these two covers pretty much all hostels across the globe. Once you know which hostel you want to book using these two websites, check hostel website or call them, in case they can offer you better deals.
Factors to Consider, Apart from Price
1. Book in advance for peak season: Most popular hostels get booked fast during peak seasons. When you are travelling during that time, make sure to book in advance if you do not want to be disappointed. If the hostel shows sold out online, it will be a good idea to call them up, you might be able to find a bed if the hostel held few beds for walk-ins.
2. Reviews and Ratings: I normally book a hostel with high ratings and good reviews. Read most recent reviews and make an informed choice.
3. Amenities and services: As mentioned above, if some services or amenities are very necessary for you, call up the hostel and confirm availability. I normally require high speed internet and good phone connectivity so that I can work on my projects. I also definitely check for availability of security and safety locker (sometimes, you will need to buy a padlock to secure your cupboard/locker)
4. Location: Location plays a vital role in how you experience a city or destination. I normally prefer a location which provides me easy access to public transport or is walking distance from my places of interest. Thus, sometimes I like to stay in heart of my destination and sometimes I like quite tranquil place away from all the hustle. Read details on how to reach the hostel, in case, you are arriving late and then make your decision about location of the hostel as per your preference.
5. Restrictions, rules, and policies: Every hostel has its own set of rules and regulations. Some hostels have curfew timings, some have age limit for 18+ only, some accept only cash payments, others might need you to carry or submit an original ID proof. Read all the instructions and policies carefully before booking and read emails or messages from hostel to avoid any last moment surprises.
6. Activities and tours: Many hostels have a set of activities that they conduct at the hostel or starting from hostel. You can find this information in property description, hostel Instagram account, website, photos, etc. I feel it is a great idea to stay at a hostel that provides you a great opportunity to explore your destination through the eyes of a local guide. I personally prefer this social hostel, especially when travelling solo.
These are some of the major things to keep in mind while searching and booking a hostel. if you have more questions about hostels and how to book them, please ask them in the comments section and I will reply to them.
Stay Tuned for more about Backpacker Hostels…