My non-negotiable criteria. Everything that should be available in a hostel:
3) Hot shower
Since I was travelling alone, security was very important for me. I was going to leave my stuff when I’m out during the day so I had make sure thieves cannot tow them away. Most hostels have lockers big enough to accommodate your backpack or your luggage. In some hostels, the lock is embedded to the locker and they provide you with the key. Others, they have the locker but you have your own padlock.
Hallway with lockers:
For convenience, I prefer a hostel who serves breakfast. Most hostels have a time when you can serve breakfast. If you plan on sleeping in all the time, then you might miss the breakfast time. Some hostels serve buffet breakfasts while some serve breakfast that will barely reach your small intestine.
Once in a while, you can opt to have breakfast or brunch elsewhere and enjoy watching people while having breakfast.
Of course! Even if I live in a tropical country, I still bathe with hot water. Need to explain further?
It was a no-brainer decision to bring my laptop. Some would visualize their vacation to be far away and cut out from the world to fully experience Europe. However, I needed to constantly communicate with my family to ease their worries. I could also check my work email from time to time to give me some sort of peace of mind. I also booked some museum tickets along the way. Read the hostel rules on the usage of the internet – their wifi signal may not reach all the rooms. It also had to be completely free.
Some other factors to consider:
Choose a safe neighborhood. Choose a hostel near a train stop. For Paris and Amsterdam, there’s a train/tram all over the city. One station is just a couple of blocks away from the next train station. It is always a plus to choose a hostel near the tourist spots so you don’t have to worry about staying out late.
Rooms TypeSome hostels offer exclusive rooms for male/female or mixed dorm rooms. Mixed dorm rooms are usually cheaper by around €2-3 a night. Hostels also offer 4-20 beds in a dorm room. The price is inversely proportional to the number of beds. More beds in a room, cheaper price.
Most hostels have a lock-down time from late morning to early afternoon. They usually do the cleaning during this time. Nobody is allowed to stay in the rooms. Some hostels allow the travelers to hang out in the lobby when cleaning is being done. You will probably be out during the day anyway. But if you want to lie down and take a nap after lunch – which I did a couple of times – just note the lockdown times of the hostel.
Downpayment and cancellation policy
Some hostels charge a minimal booking fee when you reserve your rooms – less than 2 euros. However, some hotels require a 10% downpayment, still minimal. It is also worthy to note the cancellation policies of each hostel if you find out that you can sleep somewhere else for free or in the heartbreaking case that your visa application gets denied.
Check if you choice has a curfew. Be sure not to stay out too late.
A decent hostel website hoes a long way! A crappy website won’t make me look at the place twice.Reviews
Read reviews about the place before booking. Tripadvisor can help you with this.
Some websites to help you find hostels in cities:
Although you can book using these websites, I advise you double check first if they offer the same or better rates compared to the ones reflected in the hostel's own website.