Hostels can be a great way to cut down your travel budget and meet fellow travelers during your trip, but picking the wrong hostel can spell disaster. Before you book your stay, learn how to pick the perfect hostel.


Above all, you need a hostel that fits your personality. Introverts will be miserable at a hostel where guests are socializing 24/7, while extroverts might find themselves bored at a quiet hostel where lights are out by 11 p.m. Every hostel has an atmosphere of its own, and you’ll be happier if you take some time to research the hostel’s environment before booking. Do you mind sharing a dorm or do you need a private room to relax after a long day of sightseeing? Would you like to stay somewhere that hosts daily activities like movie nights, drum circles or potluck dinners? Or would you rather do your own thing? Ask yourself what kind of experience would truly make you happy, and then find a hostel that offers a like-minded environment.


While hostels have long been known as cheap, no-frills accommodations, you might be surprised with what amenities are offered at some of them. Computer stations, free WiFi and printers are offered at many hostels these days, as well as complimentary breakfasts ranging from toast to full buffets. Some hostels even offer free bicycle rentals, swimming pools and fitness centers, so don’t assume staying at a hostel means you’ll have to go without. Consider what amenities you can’t live without when searching for your perfect hostel.


Location should play a large part in your decision-making process. Do you need to be close to the city’s center or the big attractions? If you don’t mind staying a little farther away, is there adequate transportation to get to your must-visit sites? Don’t put a damper on your vacation by picking an inconveniently located hostel. Your perfect hostel should offer easy access to whatever your itinerary includes, whether you’re traveling by foot or public transportation.


If you’re considering staying in a hostel, chances are you’re looking to keep your travel costs low. It’s important to remember, though, that you get what you pay for. The cheapest hostels might be that cheap for a reason, such as an inconvenient location, lack of amenities or other less-than-ideal conditions. While you shouldn’t blow your entire budget on your stay, you should consider booking the nicest hostel you can afford.


Review sites like and are invaluable when it comes to researching a place to stay. These reviews are from actual guests and will paint a more accurate picture of what you can expect at a particular hostel. As with all review sites, take the comments and ratings with a grain of salt, but if you see dozens of comments pointing out the same issue (such as theft or pests), steer clear.

What are your best tips for picking the perfect hostel? Let us know in the comments!


(Main image: Barnacles Hostels)

About the author

Marissa WillmanMarissa Willman earned a bachelor's degree in journalism before downsizing her life into two suitcases for a teaching gig in South Korea. Seoul was her home base for two years of wanderlusting throughout six countries in Asia. In 2011, Marissa swapped teaching for travel writing and now calls Southern California home.

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