Hostels: they’re dirty, crowded and full of bed bugs, right? WRONG! As a hostel newbie these misconceptions can cause budget travel to look totally unappealing, what’s a holiday without a rooftop bar, am I right?! These days, however, hostels are the places with the rooftop views, and the pool, the sauna, free activities… I could go on forever. We love staying at hostels, with their authenticity, affordability and atmosphere, we couldn’t ask for anything more!
To put any first time hostel jitters to bed (and not the bug type), we’ve created this guide to help you get the most out of your accommodation and choose the perfect hostel for your next adventure.
1.) Location, location, location! It’s the maker or breaker, so ensure you’re staying in the right location for you! Do your research about the city or town you’re visiting and consider what you are most interested in. Is it nightlife, the ocean, galleries and museums, or do you just want to be in the centre of it all?! Once, you’ve decided on the area, check: if it has good public transport connections, if it’s within walking distance to the main attractions, and whether it’s safe and you would feel comfortable walking around at night.
2.) Budget. Though you can always rely on hostels to be cheap, like everything, if you want more, you’ve gotta pay more. As a general rule, the less people sharing a room, the more expensive it is, and visa versa. With pros and cons to each, we tend to stick to 4-8 per room. This keeps our costs to a minimum, without the huge queue for the shower!
If you’re a female traveller, lots of hostels have the option of female only dorms. They’re typically a few extra $$$, but we can definitely vouch their worth – especially as a solo traveller. Hostels are obviously seasonal, so remember to factor that into your budget!
3.) Hostel Style and Facilities. Are you a digital nomad, a morning explorer, or a social butterfly? Whatever your travel style is, there’s a hostel to suit you! Hostels can range from a party hostels, to family-owned, to luxe boutique and everything in between. Whilst this might not seem too important now, you’ll be regretting life decisions when your roommates stumble in at 3am. If your sleeping patterns match those of your dorms, you can be guaranteed more adventures together, and a more hospitable environment!
The best things in life are free – like free breakfast and tours! Consider whether the hostel has wifi/internet access, personal lockers and storage facilities, a 24/7 reception, kitchen and laundry facilities. Check if the hostel runs tours, events and activities to meet other travellers, and a communal living/lounge/bar area to chill out. We’ve had some fantastic nights, and made great friends from hostel-run bar crawls! Even if the hostel of your dreams only offers a paid breakfast, any good traveller knows how to make that bad boy last the whole day!
4.) Last and but not least is reviews! Reviews help you to determine what the hostel vibe and the type of people it attracts. You can check cleanliness ratings, safety, personal experiences, etc. Trust us, it’s worth your while to read through a few of them. Our favourite site is HostelWorld, however there are plenty of other out there!
BONUS TIP: Pack a padlock for your luggage, towel and thongs (or flip-flops) to wear around the hostel and in bathrooms – some hostels will provide you these items, but it’s better safe than sorry!
The best part in staying in hostels is the people. You’ll meet so many different people, from different cultures, and all with a different story to tell! We have made so many new friends from staying at hostels, some we are still in contact with and have visited years later.
So, don’t hold back any longer, jump online, save cash and book a hostel. You’ll be thankful you did!
Is there a hostel that you’ve loved? Or one that you want to visit?! Let us know in the comments, or on our Instagram @thepolarpair
HOSTEL DREAM TEAM
The *ultimate* list of the best hostels we’ve visited, or wish we had!