Best Sites to Book Hostels
BEST SITES TO BOOK HOSTELS
A Guide by Alexis Craft
What is the best way to book a hostel?
If you have considered backpacking and have asked someone about their experience, you have probably heard of the word “hostel” multiple times. And I mean A LOT of times. But what exactly is a hostel and how do you find the best one?
Well, according to the internet , hostels are “an inexpensive lodging facility for usually young travelers that typically has dormitory-style sleeping arrangement”. However, it is so much more than that. It is a social experience where you can meet life-long friends or it can be an economically-friendly place to crash at for the night. No two hostels are alike, and there are shitty hostels and great hostels, just like with everything else in this world. For first-timers, it can be a little tricky to find the best site to book a hostel, so here are a few of my favorites.
HostelWorld is one of the most popular hostel booking sites that a lot of backpackers use. It has the vast majority of properties in every possible location listed and it definitely has more properties listed than any other site. The main downside of using HostelWorld, is the price: Unlike other sites, HostelWorld charges a 15% service fee to book your hostel, making it one of the priciest options around. However, HostelWorld is different than other hostel booking websites because it has the ability to search for partial availability in hostels. This means that you may be able to spend two nights in a 12 bed dorm and three in a 6 bed dorm, and it'll still show that there's availability. All other websites would list the hostel as being fully-booked, which may lead you to book other hostels that won’t fit your preferences as well. So, it is always a good idea to check HostelWorld if other sites say that a hostel you fancy is completely booked.
One way to find anything and everything is by searching the internet, and finding a hostel is no different! Personally, I used Google to find the average prices of the hostels in the area, the distance between the hostel and the nearest bus/train station that I would be using, and the ratings of each hostel. I used Google to decide on the hostels I would stay in when driving around Iceland! Rather than having to find it on a map by using other sites, Google will show you the prices and the location of each hostel available in the area you want to stay in! And once you click on a hostel, it will show you the averages price of the hostel using different booking sites. The main one that Google recommended using was Booking.com, but some sites have better prices and better options. So, if you’re looking at being extremely price conscious, you can search for hostels directly, find hostels that aren’t on these aggregate sites, or find discounts on each aggregate site!
Booking is one of my favorites to use because it is simple, quick, and easy to use. And similarly to HostelWorld, it's a better-known site and so, it has a greater number of listings. Booking does use a variety of hotels as well, so make sure to specify that you want a hostel! It is also worth mentioning that it has an extremely user-friendly app, so if that is what you are looking for, then Booking is the way to go! Plus, if you use Booking for the majority of your trip, it is easy to see all of your hostels listed on one site. It lists your bookings on one page, with the dates listed, the locations, the check-in/check-out times, options to contact the hostel directly, which of your hostels will allow you to cancel your booking for free, and more! Booking also gives you suggestions on cities to visit next and the number of days that you should stay there (ex. Build Your Trip). Though I rarely use their suggestions, it is nice to learn about cities that are close by and that I may have never considered otherwise! One downside of using Booking is that it is mainly popular in North America, which means that it may not have all the hostels available listed. But it is still a worthy site to check out!
HostelBookers is quite similar to HostelWorld, but it has less properties listed on their website. The main reason that you should check out HostelBookers is that it is usually cheaper than their competition by at least a couple of dollars. Additionally, they are rarely the most expensive option! So, if you are looking to search an aggregate site such as HostelWorld or Hostels.com, it may be best to also look at HostelBookers! The site is user-friendly, offers a comprehensive list of hostels in a majority of countries around the world, and it could save you a few bucks!
HoztelZ is quite a unique hostel booking tool. It is a comprehensive booking site, so it does not have its own inventory. Rather, it searches through other booking sites and systems and compares their prices for you! If you are unfamiliar with this process, but have used Kayak, Momondo, and Expedia, they are similar to these aggregate sites and metasearch engines. So, after you put in the appropriate information and choose a hostel, HostelZ will show you the exact prices you’ll get on specific booking sites. Then you will be able to pick the cheapest option to book your stay! For budget conscious people, HostelZ is great for finding the lowest fares without searching multiple sites by hand. Plus, you can also view their ratings from different websites, including Hostelworld, Hostels.com, HostelBookers, and more!
6. Directly on the Hostel’s website
Though this was mentioned in Google’s section, it is still worthy to mention on its own! Pros of booking directly through the hostel is that you may find more room in a hostel available and those same rooms for cheaper prices. Many times, booking direct works out to be cheapest. Mainly because hostels can afford to offer better prices because they do not have to pay commission to Booking.com, HostelBookers, HostelWorld, etc – therefore there’s no mock-up for the middle man. Some of these sites take as much as 30% of the total price of the booking just to list the hostels on their site, so it’s no surprise that it would be cheaper booking directly. Also, if the hostel doesn't have its own site, try to see if you can contact the hostel through their email or Facebook page. Reach out to them to see if they are willing to give you a better price than when booking through third party websites. Plus, if you mention that you avoided booking on the sites to save them money, then they may be open to negotiate! Cons of booking directly can be a confusion about which hostel you booked in which city and for which dates. But if you are a good enough planner and are able to keep everything in line without the help of an app, then booking directly is perfect for you!
So, check out these sites, see what the location and price are and what amenities and availability the hostels have, and choose accordingly. One tip I heard was not to book a hostel under $20 dollars, if you want a good one – but this highly depends on the country you’re in, the amenities the hostel has, the type of social experience you want, the reviews of people who have stayed there, and more! Overall, my personal advice is to search using a healthy mix of all the sites to research the reviews, find the best hostels with availability, and find the best prices. All of these sites have their perks, and depending on what you want, whether it be app usability, low prices, or overall convenience, all of them are great in helping you book your stay. So, book away, and let us know which one of these sites is your favorite!
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