When ever I run into a friend or see some family, they’ve all got the same question for me; “how is the planning going?” Apart from assuming they didn’t read my post on not having a plan and wondering whether or not I need to chastise them or take advantage of an opportunity to shamelessly self-promote, I normally answer “it’s coming together, need to book a hostel for the first few weeks so I’ve got a place to stay.” Now, I’ve been saying that for about a month now and I guess it’s high time I had a look at what is available.
There’s a chance here for a face off between Hostel World and Hostel Bookers. It would be unfair for me to compare and contrast the two though as I’m a Hostel World kinda guy, I found their site to be more user friendly when I started out and that’s where I still make most of my bookings today.
One of the guys at work dropped me an email with a recommendation for a hostel that he used while in Melbourne. I’m not one to turn down advice from people with experience but having stayed in hostels in a large percentage of the major cities of Europe and the U.S. I felt it would be wise to do a bit of research myself. What? That sounds a bit like planning doesn’t it? I didn’t think you were going to do any planning? Whatever man, I do what I want!
What am I looking for when I look for a hostel?
Size matters. The best hostels I’ve stayed in have always been the smaller ones. It’s more personal, you get a better atmosphere and the community is stronger. A couple of my personal favourites are Pacific Tradewinds in San Francisco, Downtown Washington Hostel in D.C. and the YoHo Hostel in Varna.
Nothing against big hostels, I’ve had some great times in vast hostels like the Apple Hostel in Philadelphia, but when it comes down to it, the introvert in me calls the shots.
There’s also something to be said for the number of beds in a dorm. I’ve stayed in rooms with three beds and rooms with 26, neither ideal. Somewhere between 8 and 12 is the dream.
Breakfast. If a hostel does breakfast and it’s included in the price, no matter how stale the bread, it’s going to be considered. I’ve never been organized enough to turn up to a hostel with a bag of cereal and a bottle of milk on me. Normally, I rock up, dump my bag and head straight out on the beers before waking up with horrendous dry mouth and not a carton of orange juice in sight. Convenience is what it is.
Location. I’m not a driver so I always have to consider how I’m going to get from public transport terminal to hostel reception. I’m a walker so this usually isn’t a problem but sometimes I’m faced with a logistical nightmare of buses and trains when there’s another perfectly good hostel across the street from the station.
So a mid-sized hostel in a good location in terms of transport with the offer of breakfast. How hard can it be?