There are many preferences that travellers have when it comes to accommodation. Some people like hotels, Airbnbs or Couchsurfing. Myself, I like a good old hostel. It really is quite strange, because I’m an introvert. I know. Why would I put myself in that situation? Well, although being an introvert is something I am happy with, I know that it also causes me to put limitations on myself in certain situations. Staying in a hostel allows me to speak with people easily when I’m travelling. Now, there are a bunch of different kinds of hostels and not all are going to suit you. So, how do you pick a hostel to your individual taste?
Many people associate hostels with being a young person’s game. Although this is true to a certain extent, it is commonplace to see people of all different age groups at hostels. In this day and age, these places accommodate for every type of guest. All I really want to say is don’t let your age put you off staying in a hostel. Here are a few tips for finding the perfect hostel for you.
Don’t just go by the price
Hostels are beautifully cheap places to stay when you’re trying to spend less. However, remember that the cheapest ones are usually that cheap for a reason. I’m not a spring chicken anymore at the grand age of 31. There is no chance you’ll get me in a party hostel and these places are usually really cheap. Spending a couple of extra dollars per night on a hostel can make the world of difference when you want a decent night’s sleep. If that’s what you want, of course!
What do you want from the hostel?
If there are certain things you expect from a hostel, stick to it. Some things that I look out for are a quiet location, privacy curtains, lockers and free breakfast. For me, these are absolute must-haves. When browsing hostels, filter by the things you require and go from there. If you don’t want to stay in a mixed dorm, then filter by female dorms. I find that Booking.com and Hostelworld are really useful sites, because you can filter and sort as you wish.
Read the reviews!
Trust other travellers and read their reviews. They’re there for a reason and will help you immensely in making hostel decisions. I also sort by review score and read at least 10 reviews to get an idea of the things hostels are consistently good or bad at. Having a place you can go back to at the end of the day and feel completely comfortable is so important when travelling. If you’re travelling alone it makes it even more vital that you get an idea of the hostel’s security.
A great thing to look out for is comments that the hosts/staff were extremely helpful. Having friendly people running a hostel makes so much difference to your stay. I remember staying at two different hostels in Kanchanaburi. At the first hostel I was the only guest and the owner would not even speak to me. It had a really negative impact on me, so I moved. At the next hostel, the people running it were amazing! They spoke to you all the time, took you out on a night time and knew how to make you feel welcome. I stayed at this hostel an extra 6 nights because of this! This level of professionalism in hospitality can make or break a hostel.
More on my all-time favourite hostel
The absolute best hostel I stayed in was Stamp Hostel in Kanchanaburi, Thailand. This is the hostel I mentioned above. The owner, Shane, and all of his staff were amazing. This is the perfect example, in my opinion, of how to run a hostel and make people feel welcome and relaxed. They were more than happy to accommodate you for any request and take you anywhere you needed. On top of that nightly activities were organised from night market trips to beer pong. I have to say that one of the things that surprised me most about this place was the beds! So many hostels have terrible mattresses and make for a difficult night’s sleep. The beds here were incredibly comfortable. I literally slept like a baby every single night.
I don’t usually make specific recommendations, but I can’t pass up on the opportunity to give these guys a mention. If you find yourself in Kanchanaburi hit this hostel up. You won’t regret it. It’s the perfect place to rest your head after busy days exploring the area.
These are some of the main things I look for when booking a hostel. Think about what is important to you when choosing a hostel and go from there. But remember; don’t ever compromise your safety for a couple of dollars a night. It’s just not worth the risk.
Whilst travelling, staying in hostels can offer fantastic opportunities to interact with people. Once you know the type of hostel you prefer, you’ll want to go back to them time and time again. When I travelled Southeast Asia, I stayed in hostels for the majority of my trip. For the most part the hostels were well above average and that is due, at least in part, to following the above guidelines when making hostel choices.
Enjoy your travels, make good hostel choices and meet amazing people along the way.