Hostels – the good, the bad, the ugly

Hostels – the good, the bad, the ugly

How and what to book

Hostels

I always book my hostels through hostelworld, I’m quite an avid reviewer on there so I’ve stuck with it. So far I’ve never had a problem.

Hostelworld always asks for a 10% deposit when booking. If the booking comes to over £10 I use the flexible deposited scheme for £1, which means if I cancel the booking I can use that 10% deposit as credit on a future booking.

I have found 6 bed dorms are often better than 4 bed dorms. In 4 beds you risk being in a room with a pair or trio and it can make you feel in the way. Anything over 8 is too much and is it really worth it to save a pound a night?

I always read the reviews and I use these to decide what to book. However, don’t always trust reviews on Hostelworld. Especially if the reviewer has never reviewed a hostel before.

For example, I stayed at a hostel in Marrakesh, which was the second highest rated hostel in Morocco on Hostelworld. It soon became obvious the hostel staff wrote the reviews, as each review had the same level of English with identical mistakes and they all mentioned the same selling points.

They did this by setting up accounts with different email addresses and booking a bed in a 20 bed dorm room for one night and then writing a 10/10 review the next day.

The good, the bad, the ugly

The Good

I’ve met some amazing people in hostels and I’ve had a great time. I think they are perfect for solo travellers and if it wasn’t for hostels I wouldn’t be able to afford to travel.

Some of the social hostels run pub-crawls. This is great when you’re travelling solo. I don’t recommend drinking on your own in a foreign country – even though I’ve been know to do it. Pub-crawls mean you’re near your accommodation and there are other people around you can get to know.

When we were staying in Berlin at JETpak Alternative Hostel (great hostel!) we wanted to go to Berghain, the super strict club to get into. On the night we were planning to go, they were holding a gay man sex party, which being female I couldn’t go to. If it wasn’t for the guy working a JETpak, we wouldn’t have known and would’ve had a wasted journey.

Instead he told us what to wear, what night to go on and even ordered us a taxi – we got in and it was awesome.

Brandenburg Gate - I love Berlin!
Brandenburg Gate – I love Berlin!

The Bad

People snore and that’s why you should always take silicon earplugs, these are the best type, and an eye mask.

Always take your own padlock. Thieving happens and not all hostels have lockers. When you do have a locker, put your valuables in it – even if you’re just going to the toilet.

If you don’t have an ensuite you can have a long wait for the bathroom in the mornings and in some countries the hot water can quickly run out.

The Ugly

I was staying in a really nice but not very social hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia. I was in a 6 bed female dorm that had no lock on the door. At 1am a drunk guy from the room next door came in and pissed all over the floor. It was gross.

This is the risk you take for €10 a night accommodation.

Such a nice room too…

Hostel room and the scene of the pissing incident
Hostel room and the scene of the pissing incident

Airbnb

I don’t often use Airbnb as I travel solo so often it’s not economical.

Airbnb, in my opinion, is only good if you’re travelling in a large group as you can all fit into one apartment, or if you’re a couple wanting a romantic getaway.

I stayed in a 2 bed apartment with 4 girls in Oslo, Norway. Airbnb really shines in expensive countries. Having a kitchen means you can cook and not have to worry about buying expensive meals at restaurants.

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