Hostel (No, Not the Movie): What to Look for When Booking a Hostel for Travel in Europe

Written by Kaden May 27, 2016

Waiting for the bus outside the campground!

My first room, with a locking door, outlet, free WiFi, cabinet, and plenty of space!

First night in the Hostel. The bed is bigger than my dorm bed!

Thank you Camping Serenissima for a great first hostel experience!

I was nervous about several things before my study abroad experience, but the main thing was staying in my first hostel.  Hostels are places that offer inexpensive food and lodging for travelers and are the main form of lodging for students traveling in Europe.  I heard from people who have seen the Hostel movie trilogy that hostels were dirty, scary, and highly unsafe.  I’m here to tell you that my first hostel experience was a fantastic one and I’m going to tell you how you can have the same experience that I had.

When I began looking for a hostel, the first place that I started looking was HostelWorld.  HostelWorld is the market leader for places to stay on a budget while traveling.  My search process began by searching for hostels near Venice, the city that I was visiting that weekend.  After the initial search, you can sort by rating, price, and distance from the city that you want to stay in.  I sorted by city and searched through the several options that appeared, looking at each of the different attributes.

The main features that I focused on while searching for my hostel were security, value for money, and location.  Customer reviews are a good place to go to hear about other travelers’ previous experiences in the hostel.  In addition to reviews, each hostel also has a description.  It is important to read through these, as some hostels do not offer free luggage storage, towels, or bedding.  Some hostels also have extra features that they list in their description, like on-site laundry, a convenience store, and even free WiFi!  I chose Camping Serenissima because of their high overall rating, as well as for their free bedding and WiFi.

Once you pick your location, it’s time to look at what type of room that you want to stay in.  Typically, hostels have a variety of lodging options to choose from.  You can choose a private room (a more expensive option), dorm room (less luxurious, but cheaper), or even a tent (yay camping!).  You can also get rooms with multiple people.  Staying at a hostel with friends not only adds a sense of security, it also makes them cheaper!  I shared a dorm room with a friend and it only cost me € 13.00 per night.

I had a great experience at Camping Serenissima.  One part that was really convenient was the fact that there was a city bus stop directly outside of the hostel, something you may want to look for in yours!  When I arrived on the night of my first stay, the staff was extremely helpful in helping me find my room and get settled in.  Once I unpacked in my room, I went to take a shower in the bathrooms, which were far nicer and cleaner than any campground shower that I have seen back in the United States.  My bed was extremely comfortable and I had a great nights rest from my first full day of travels.

In short, hostels are great for students who are traveling abroad.  They are inexpensive, convenient, and really easy to book!  Below are some final things to keep in mind when scheduling your first hostel visit.

  • Make sure you have cash, some hostels do not take credit/debit cards
  • Bring a towel if one is not provided!
  • Use luggage locks to add some extra security and peace-of-mind
  • Double-check the hostel check-in and check-out times
  • Book your hostel at least a week in advance for the best options