Hostels are one of the best types of accommodations in Europe for backpackers and travelers alike, especially if on a budget. Hostels are not common in the United States and for that reason most Americans are unaware of their existence, but in Europe — hostels are very common, and they’re a budget friendly way to travel. Hostels are located in almost every European city.
What Is A Hostel?
A hostel is an establishment that provides inexpensive food and lodging for a specific group of people such as students, workers, and travelers. Hostels are similar to hotels except the rooms are shared (dorms), and filled with bunk beds. You can choose the type of room (2 bed, 4 bed, 6 bed, ect…) that you prefer and the price will fluctuate based on the room.
In my experiences the most common hostel rooms are mixed dorms (male & female) that house anywhere from 6 to 12 people. With most hostels you have several booking options: female only dorms, male only dorms, mixed dorms, private rooms, and more. Mixed dorms are the most common choice with the best overall price.
The cost of a mixed dorm hostel room in Europe varies based on your location. Western Europe is more expensive, the price is usually around 25 to 35 euros a night. Eastern Europe is cheaper, the price is around 15 to 25 euros a night. Most hostels include breakfast too.
By staying in a hostel you’ll pay a cheap price for a nights stay, and you’ll meet travelers from all over the globe.
Hostel Features To Look For
It’s important to understand hostels and the features they have. I’ve stayed in a few run down hostels with bad rooms and bathrooms, and that was usually because I didn’t take the time to read through the reviews and fully look over the features.
The essential features you want to look for before booking a hostel room are:
- List of good reviews. (read the reviews)
- 24/7 check-in and reception service.
- Lockers provided. (most have this)
- Public transportation options nearby. (most have this)
- Washing Machines. (if you need them)
- Good location.
If you want a lively social scene choose a hostel with a bar. The front desk is very helpful in most hostels. You can ask them for tips and recommendations and they’ll help you out. If you need any assistance be sure to ask the front desk. They have maps, towels, locks for lockers, recommendations, and they can hook you up with great deals in the local areas. Use it to your advantage!
How To Find and Book Good Hostels
Finding and booking a hostel room is very easy. I used the Hostel World app to search for hostels and book them while I was backpacking Europe.
Hostel World is one of the most popular and convenient websites/apps to book a room (bed) with. It includes a full list of hostels, reviews, features, ratings, images, and more. You can simply add your credit card to your account, search, and book a hostel room as you please. You put down a 15 to 20% deposit on the room (bed) to reserve it, and then pay the full amount upon arriving at the hostel.
I recommend you download the Hostel World app if you have a smartphone. If you don’t have a smartphone you can use a computer at the airport or hostel to book a room from the HostelWorld.com website.
Conclusion & Extra Tips
When you book a room with Hostel World they provide step by step directions to the hostel from the major airports and train stations in the city of your booking. Snap a picture of the directions with your phone in case you do not have service later on. Otherwise, print or write down the directions and carry them with you.
If you’re a light sleeper bring ear plugs. The front desk will usually have ear plugs if you forget or lose them.
Most hostels do pub-crawls. You can join the pub-crawl for a low fee and have several hours of unlimited beer and sangria (depending on location.) Pub-crawls last several hours and usually include people from your hostel and sometimes other nearby hostels. They are a great way to meet other travelers.
I really enjoy hostels and the social environment they create. You are guaranteed to meet people from all corners of the globe if you stay in hostels, and put a little effort into approaching people and striking up a conversation. I met a lot of amazing people during my backpacking trip, and almost all of them were from my hostels.
Do you have any questions related to hostels? Ask in the comments section below and I’ll be sure to answer them.