5 Things to Know Before Booking Your Next Hostel
Congratulations! You found a hostel in your price range with favorable customer reviews and reassuring safety ratings. The hostel is located within walking distance of public transportation or your most anticipated sites in the city and you've already mapped out a route from the arriving airport (or train station) to the hostel. Everything looks good to go, but you might want to dig just a little deeper and answer the following questions before confirming your reservation.
Does the hostel provide linens?
Unlike most hotels, basic necessities like sheets and towels are not always included with your hostel reservation. Find out if you are expected to rent (or provide) your own bath towel or even your own sheets, in some cases. Renting a towel for two euro per night might not seem like a big deal, but if you are hostel hopping for an extended trip, the cost can really add up especially if you are also paying for bed linens. Don’t forget a lightweight, easy-to-pack robe to make your entire hygiene routine and hostel stay more comfortable.
How big are the lockers?
I use a fairly normal size backpack when traveling, so I am generally unconcerned with space constraints for my luggage. However, I once stayed in a hostel in Rome with tiny everything: tiny beds, a tiny showerhead that even I (at 5’6”) had to bend down to get under, and tiny lockers that not only barely fit my backpack, but barely accommodated the ring of my combination lock! Luckily, I was able to make everything fit, but many travelers would not have been able to use the lockers. Speaking of luggage, check to see if the hostel can store your luggage (for free!) after checkout until you leave the city and also ask if the luggage room is locked or monitored.
What forms of payment does the hostel accept?
I like to consider myself a good planner, but I showed up to a hostel in Prague once without realizing it was a cash only establishment. Whoops! Luckily, I was traveling with a few other people and we were able to scrape together enough korunas between the five of us to pay for the room—but that could have been a travel disaster. When it comes to paying for your hostel, know before you go!
Does the hostel offer free breakfast?
If so, how extensive is the spread? This may not be a deal breaker for you, but I personally love starting my day off with a big breakfast. I loved it even more when the hostel breakfast was stocked enough for me to wrap up some bread and cheese or a piece of fruit to keep in my bag for a free, mid-morning snack (or even lunch!). We Love F*cking Tourists in Lisbon had a particularly delicious hot breakfast each morning. If you are not an early riser, check to see if breakfast will still be available when you are ready to eat as some hostels stop serving breakfast early.
With whom will I be sleeping?
Maybe you are traveling with a co-ed group and you want to make sure you can all stay together. Or maybe you are traveling alone and would feel more comfortable in an all women’s dorm. Either way, it's important to know what to expect regarding your potential roommates. And if you are traveling with a group, you might be able to reserve a smaller dorm room for added privacy and only a few dollars more. Sites like Hostelworld and HostelBookers allow you to easily filter available rooms by the number of beds. Hostelworld also allows you to narrow your search to find gender specific or mixed dorms.