These are my tips on what to look for when you arrive in a new place and are searching for a hostel to stay in, bemusedbackpacker.com/2013/09/10/top-...
But what things do you look for? What in your opinion makes a really good hostel?
I’ve never stayed at a hostel, but have seen many of them since I’m on travel forums and like to be aware of “stuff” that people would generally ask about – and I’ve been to them on 3 continents and numerous cities.
The security aspect is high for me – does this look like a safe place for me and my belongings.
The social aspect is also important – is it “comfortable” and easy to interact with other guests.
Location, I suppose, but most are fairly close to town centers or attractions (except Ballmer’s Interlaken camp sites that are wayyyyy out from town).
Price could be a factor, but most are a similar price of other, local hostels.
Michael Huxley Have to agree with all of those points mate.
Security is right at the top of my list too, if there aren't decent strong lockers for example or if I get that unsafe 'spidey sense' I'll just move onto the next one.
You're right in that the social aspect is important too, meeting new people is one of the best things about hostels, especially for solo travelers. I've made a lot of friends that way.
Price – it feels like ten years ago you could reasonably expect to pay 10-12 pound/euro, now it’s more like 20.
Cleanliness – always found the ones with ensuite bathrooms inside the dorms a bit manky.
To me the quintessential hostel is still a bunkhouse in a remote part of the British countryside run by people passionate about the local landscape. Though I read the hostel idea started in the German countryside a hundred years ago.
But then we have all the city hostels too. It’s become too commercial. Some cities have 30 hostels each with an extensive list of facilities and extras, vying for your business. I wish they would just concentrate on the basics: clean, cheap, and safe.
They used to be the budget option, but now they often cost as much as small guesthouses and airbnb/couchsurfing can be cheaper. But their main draw is the social element – they are the easiest way to meet lots of people.
Some regions tend to be really good for hostels, others not so good. The few I stayed at on a recent trip to Portugal were all really great, but of the 3 hostels in Spain I’ve stayed at over the years none left a good impression.
Michael Huxley Excellent point 22camels. I have found in my own personal experience that in general hostels in places like the UK, Europe and so on to be the worst value for money. Quite often places such as SE Asia, South America and so on the exact opposite is true. (SE Asian hostels are sometimes even better than the cheap guesthouses!)
22camels I've not been to a hostel in SE Asia will have to try it next time. You can usually get a decent private room in a guesthouse/hotel for pretty cheap over there.
Security and social agreed – especially security if I’m carrying laptop and camera equipment!
Cleanliness is another big one but I am realistic with my expectations… I don’t expect the hostel run by one woman in the middle of the desert with no running water and a visitor once every 3 weeks to be the cleanest of places, but I do expect a hostel in London to have clean showers, a good communal kitchen and a decent bed (unfortunately, some of those hostels in the desert have been cleaner and much safer than one I frequented in London)…
Best hostel I ever stayed in was Yes! Hostel in Lisbon – awesome communal kitchen, great social area, nice beds with locking drawers and very clean bathrooms. I thoroughly recommend!
Michael Huxley My expectations are a little different Lottie, I expect (probably from the exact same experiences as you) that hostels in the UK or Europe will be far inferior in cleanliness levels than those in areas such as SE Asia! Haha! I know exactly what you mean though, cleanliness is a big thing for me too, but as long as the basics are okay my standards can be flexible.
I don't have a specific favourite, but I think the best countries for hostels have to be Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, although accommodation in general in those countries is phenomenal. With the odd exception of course!
22camels Definitely something to be said for Lisbon and Portugal - I stayed at Alfama Patio in Lisbon recently and it was probably the best ever, they even had a rooftop swimming pool (well it was in their partner hostel a 15min walk away).
What I look for are in a hostel are:
1. Cleanliness of the rooms especially the comfort/shower area.
Michael Huxley Thanks for commenting, was beginning to lose hope! Haha! It seems like we all want pretty much the same things!