Saturday, June 18, 2016

11 Hostel Tips and Tricks

Staying at Hostels means fun, new experience, and social life. Are there any hostel tips and tricks you should know about before staying at a Hostel? Yeah, plenty. In fact, the hostel tips listed here are for the first-time traveler as well as for the experienced traveler.
We are Anna & Matt, the girl and guy behind Hostelgeeks, an independent travel brand and blog of the most outstanding hostels in the world: the 5 Star Hostels!
Today, we teamed up with our friend Vivian (Miss Happy Feet) to bring you these 11 hostel tips and tricks.

1. Understanding "What is a Hostel" - in the first place

First-time travelers can be surprised to hear they just booked a nights sleep in a 22-bed dorm. Therefore, make sure you know what a hostel is in the first place.
We at Hostelgeeks wrote a detailed article about what a Hostel is and included 11 hostel definitions
In a nutshell: “a hostel is a budget accommodation with a minimum of 1 dormitory and 1 common area.”

2. Know the type of Hostel you want to stay at

Do you feel like Partying? Or do you prefer a chilled-out, easy-going stay? The range in types of hostels is actually quite large.
You need to know which type of Hostel you are looking for. There are 7 types of Hostels which are here in a nutshell:

1. Cheap Hostels
2. Homely & Cosy Hostels
3. Boutique Hostels – Design, Luxury, Upscale
4. Party Hostels
5. Traditional Youth Hostels
6. Activity and Lifestyle Hostels
7. 5 Star Hostels

In our article about types of hostels, we go into the details of all the 7 different hostel types.

3. Pack only things you need

There is a simple rule we love to follow when traveling light: 
"Pack your backpack, and then remove 50% - this is all you will need!"

Many Hostels do offer towels, but maybe as an extra? We recommend to pack a quick-dry towel. This investment will save you some money over time.

4. Talk and Talk back (and don’t judge too fast!)

A Hostel is a social hotspot, be prepared for many conversations. People love to stay at Hostels thanks to the social vibe.
If you do have trouble talking to strangers, then there is a simple trick: Join the social activities of the hostel, or start cooking. Both of these ways are a big guarantee in breaking the ice. 

5. Talk especially to the Receptionist/ staff

Although it is quite common to have volunteers from all over the world working in the hostels, many hostels hire locals.
There are two advantages to that:

1. they support the local economy! This might be just a minor step, but it is a crucial one. In less-developed countries, local jobs are important for the economy.
2.  The receptionist is local - and knows the destination. Use that! At a Hostel it is very common that receptionist and staff hang out in the social areas as well. Chat with them, and ask for their best travel tips. You will be surprised.

Special tip: Always mention that you are not interested in the tourist stuff. Ask for a cool bar with live music, a special spot in the city or a restaurant serving local cuisine for local prices.

6. Get the hostel vibe, whilst staying in a private room

A hostel always offers dorms, this is a basic rule. However, nowadays, so many hostels offer private rooms as well.
Especially for couples, this is very popular, but also for solo-travelers or groups looking for a bit more privacy. 

Even if you are not the typical hostel-type of traveler, a private room might be good to consider. You can stay in a private room, and enjoy the benefits of the hostel life.
The Wallyard Concept Hostel in Berlin separates their private rooms from the dorms as well. This also ensures that the private rooms are more calm and peaceful.

7. Book the smart way - official website or email

We at Hostelgeeks do not offer any booking service with our website. But we know how and where you can score the best deal for your hostel booking: 
The official website of the hostel - usually the place where they offer the cheapest prices.
Why is that? When booking through the official website of the hostel, the accommodation saves the commission they would need to pay to a booking platform. Simple as that.

Another fantastic tip we can give you for booking hostels: Book via email! Yeah, we know, this is not instant and somewhat time-consuming. BUT: If you are not in a hurry with your booking, then it is worth it. It is likely you will get a discount, or an upgrade, especially if there is not the bed/ room you wanted available.

8. Paying 2€ more makes a huge difference at Hostels

photo of Seagull Garret hostel.
This is actually one of the best tips travelers love to share. The difference of paying only 1€ or 2€ more, can be significant. Even though you might be traveling on a budget, this small amount of money will usually provide you with a way better hostel experience. 
The very cheap hostels, well, think about it: Why are they that cheap? Those 1€ or 2€ more per night are used by the hostel to deliver a better service. Suddenly you can actually stay in a Boutique Hostel or even 5 Star Hostel! 

9. Learn how to find the best Hostels

Best Hostels…this term itself actually annoys us at Hostelgeeks. However, we all want "the best hostel", right?
At Hostelgeeks we collect 5 Star Hostels around the world, and we only show you 1 Hostel per destination.
This means: We are a great resource for you to find the best Hostels.
Other than us, there are obviously the booking platforms you can use. Make sure to  pay attention to the ratings and reviews. 

 10. Is the hostel location important? Yes, but wait…

A hostel location is absolutely important, BUT it is not necessarily important to stay downtown.
It is actually unbelievable how many websites claim a hostel should be always downtown. Well, NO!
For instance in Barcelona you do not want to stay right at the Las Ramblas. It is loud, loud, loud - and guess what: You will surely visit it anyway. You miss out seeing more of the city, when you stay directly next to the main tourist highlight. Oh, and did I mention it is loud?!
BTW: We do not mean you should stay far away from the city center, only slightly!

11. Slow down and take advantage of the activities

A hostel is a social accommodation, offering usually many social activities. We recommend to join these events, and get the best out of the experience.
Very common social events are dinner nights, pub crawls, movie nights, cooking nights and small live concerts.

The Cocomama Amsterdam, 5 Star Hostel in Amsterdam, offers as well "Tight Ass Tuesday". Mhm, what?! This is the name of the beer-and-pasta night at Cocomama, a hostel loaded with character and fun.

Therefore, make sure you check the black board of the hostel. You can explore the city by day, and experience the hostel life by evening/ night.

What is a good Hostel? Well, this is up to YOU!

Once a friend told us he did not like this very specific hostel. Why? There was an event for two nights. The first night he did not talk to anyone, the second night however was great and he ended up socializing a lot.

Here is the thing: It is up to the hostel, to a certain extent, to encourage a great hostel experience. They set up the facilities and events of the hostel. BUT! nobody will come to you and do the socializing-part for you – this is completely down to you!

Remember that, and don’t be shy. Hostels can be a fantastic part of your travels - use them!

Summary Hostel Tips and Tricks

You see, there are many things to consider. From understanding what a hostel is, to picking the right one, and then finally to enjoy a Hostel at its best.

Do you have any additional recommendations for staying at a Hostel? We would love to read your thoughts in the comment section below. 

Sleep well,

Anna and Matt are the girl and guy behind Hostelgeeks
Hostelgeeks is an independent travel brand of the most outstanding hostels in the world: the 5 Star Hostels!

We are your shortcut to find the 1 stunning Hostel in your destination. Simple as that.
Check out the website "Hostelgeeks"!
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