How to get the best out of hostelling

Backpackers Advice

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Today's breed of hostels is making it even easier to travel on a budget. Hostels are definitely improving their game and the industry is in fact very competitive. This is great news for backpackers who reap the benefits of properties constantly playing a game of one-upmanship with each other offering more and more facilities. So, to make sure you are getting the best out of hostelling, here is a useful checklist to ensure you get the most for money.


Don't assume that going cheap means being located out in the sticks. You can find a New York City hostel in the shadow of the Empire State Building, in the pretty Montmartre neighborhood in Paris, or behind London's main shopping district around Oxford Street. For whatever type of budget holiday you have planned, hostels can be found in most locations to suit skiing vacations, beach breaks, or surfing holidays.


It's not just the price of a hostel room where travelers save money; a host of facilities make this type of accommodation great value for the money, too. You should always find out in advance, but most places now offer free linen and towels as standard so there is no need to bring a sleeping bag. Guests can stay in touch with friends and family or plan their day out on one of the hostel's internet kiosks. An increasing number of properties now offer Wi-Fi too. Lockers in dorms will give you an added sense of security for your belongings or you could also ask about a hostel safe behind reception. Some of the best hostels in the world now include added luxuries, such as hair straighteners, gym facilities, rooftop terraces with BBQ facilities, plasma TVs in dorm rooms, and free bike rental.

Room Types

Dorms vary in size and you can expect to sleep in a 4- to 16-bed dorm. As a rule of thumb, the larger the dorm, the cheaper your bed will be for the night. Unless specified, these will be mixed dorms, but an increasing number of hostels offer female-only shared rooms. Lovely personal touches in female-only dorms include full-length mirrors, magazines, and perhaps some free toiletries. For travelers who want more privacy such as couples or families, you can usually opt for a private room. Some have shared bathrooms, and others are en suite, but you can expect to pay more for private rooms.


Where hostels really come out on top is by providing self-catering facilities. Eating out three meals a day can get costly, so why not pick up some fresh local ingredients from a market and make a packed lunch? Keep an eye out for hostels that offer a free breakfast because this also adds great value for the money. For long-term stays, self-catering facilities are essential.


Whether you are travelling solo or looking for some like-minded people to explore the local nightlife with, hostels are perfect for meeting new people. There is usually a lounge with a TV and a game room with a pool table or table football, which are great for breaking the ice. If the hostel has a bar, this will give you an indication of what sort of atmosphere to expect. Find out what events and activities the hostel has planned during your stay. They can be great budget nights out if you join a free city tour, pub crawl, trip to a comedy venue, or a free pizza or movie night in the hostel.

HostelBookers is a budget accommodation specialist with properties in over 3,500 destinations around the world. You can find a boutique hostel in New York as well as other top destinations for city breaks, ski vacations or beach holidays. They do not charge a booking fee, offer a lowest price guarantee and hostels are reviewed and rated by previous guests.

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