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Staying in Hostels - Any Advice???

Old Nov 27th, 2016, 08:24 PM
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Staying in Hostels - Any Advice???

Hello fellow travelers! My friend and I, two 22-year-old American females, are planning our first trip to Europe in July 2017 (Paris, France ---> Venice, Italy ---> Rome, Italy ---> Santorini, Greece ---> Barcelona, Spain). We are currently researching room and board accommodations, but we are not sure where to start. Just from reading other forums so far, most people say that hostels are the way to go. Would love to here some thoughts regarding private hostel rooms as compared with dorm style rooms, as well as ensuite rooms versus rooms without private bathrooms. Would also appreciate recommendations regarding specific hostels/districts for any of our destinations. Also, should we book directly with each hostel, or is it safe to make reservations through other sites that allow us to compare different hostels simultaneously? Basically looking for any hostel advice for young, first-time travelers. Thanks!
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Old Nov 27th, 2016, 09:38 PM
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First...booking directly is what I prefer. 1. If you need to change your dates, you can call the hostel up and they can do it. If you book through a booking site, usually you have to go through the website. 2. I've stayed in several hostels where the hostels' website has more details about the rooms than the booking website. If you book through the hostel website you can usually be more sure of what you're actually booking.

With hostels you usually aren't price comparing like you do with hotels. You're comparing location and amenities. There's not a huge amount of variety between prices. And a good place to start is on hostel world. I use booking sites like that for ratings- and then I go to the individual website to further research it and to book it. I generally only stay at places with a minimum 90% rating but that would be because I'm picky.

Hostels aren't created equally but usually there isn't much price difference. For me- I usually choose based on location. Some people prefer to be near transit- I prefer to be in a neighborhood near lots of food and shopping. Some people can't live without a kitchen- I like to eat out so I don't pay much attention to kitchen storage. Always look at the amenities list- some hostels don't have kitchens at all. Some people prefer party hostels- my preference tends to be family friendly hostels because they are quieter.

I use the reviews less for content and more for warning signs. And look at a few different sources for reviews. Hostelworld tends to have frequent hostel users- somewhere like tripadvisor can have people who apparently expected a 4 star hotel for hostel prices.

I really have no preference between ensuite and down the hall bathrooms. When my dorm does have an ensuite bathroom, I may use the down the hall bathroom anyway because then I don't have to worry about disturbing my roommates. And often the down the hall bathrooms have the cleaner and nicer facilities. (It occurs to me that I'm not sure exactly what you're looking for. Some hostels have dorm ensuites, some that have private rooms but don't offer private bathrooms, some have dorm style bathrooms and some have semi private bathrooms- it's not attached to your room but it's single use- one sink, shower, toilet.)

Private vs dorm. You might find in Europe that there really isn't a good reason to stay in a hostel if you want a private room. There are so many small hotels that you could find something in the same price range in a better location than a hostel. I personally prefer smaller, single sex dorms. I'll pick a hostel with 4 bed dorms over a hostel with only 10 beds. I'll pay a few extra bucks for an all female dorm too. Since you are traveling with a friend, it may make sense for you to split private room, but that generally is still going to be more expensive than 2 bunks in the cheap dorms. So I lean towards dorm rooms. But they have a few disdvantages- bunk beds, paying for towels, having to have a locker, having to tote your shower stuff back and forth. No tv, if you count that as a disavantage (I don't). Nothing else I can think of. Many hostels I've stayed in have better beds and cleaner facilities than the average budget hotel.

What you can do if you're unsure: do one city as a hostel, the next as a hotel, the next as a hostel and so on. It's a little hard for me to be in a dorm for more than a week and these days I usually do 5 nights in a dorm, 2 nights private hotel, 5 nights in a dorm, or something like that. The hotel is both a treat and a chance to sleep in. Unless you sleep like the dead, you'll probably get woken up a few times in a dorm.

There are "boutique" hostels which can have good food and interesting decor or over the top amenities (like a pool or hot tub). I know two of the chains in Europe are Generator and Plus. A good source for clean, basic hostels is hostel international. I like those because they generally have common rules, standards, amenities.

Three things to really pay attention to-
1. Location. It needs to be convenient to the attractions and needs to be close to transit links.
2. Security. My favorite hostels don't allow nonguests in the dorm areas. And they have zero tolerance policies for drugs and alcohol. I don't have a problem with drinking but I don't like drunk or sick roommates and that is a lot more common when people can drink in the hostel. But make sure the hostel has no curfew and 24hr reception because it can be a pain if not.
3. (Maybe). I want laundry facilities and the absence of one is usually a deal breaker.

Good luck!
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Old Nov 27th, 2016, 10:06 PM
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Two people traveling together often spend less by sharing a room in a budget hotel rather than paying for two beds in a hostel.

Many hostels have private rooms, but they're often no cheaper than hotels with equivalent services.

I suggest you look for rooms on www.booking.com . They list all kinds of accommodation, including hostels. Include the words "center city" in your search, e.g., "Paris center city", to eliminate lodgings that are far from the center. Then sort the list by price. Go down the list looking for places with more than a few ratings (more than 20) and with a decent average rating (over about 7.5). Read the guest reviews before making a decision.
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Old Nov 27th, 2016, 10:48 PM
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On Santorini your choices are Santorini Camping, Youth Hostel Anna and Caveland Hostel. All have websites. There are also many inexpensive hotels. Use the booking.com website's filter system to look for what's available.
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Old Nov 28th, 2016, 12:31 AM
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In Barcelona, we've stayed many times in budget Hostal Orleans, basic hotel standard (private bath, tv, AC, safe, 24 h desk etc).
http://www.booking.com/hotel/es/host...ans.en-gb.html
http://hostalorleans.com/

Excellent location in the medieval and vibrant Born district, a cradle of Catalan identity and culture and close to "everything" (the beach, the Gothic quarter, the cathedral, the Ciutadella park, Placa de Catalunya, Las Ramblas etc. etc) and more local atmosphere than in the Gothic quarter and much of the other central areas. Great tapas bars, restaurants, terraces, nightlife etc. http://www.barcelona-life.com/barcelona/born
https://www.barcelona-tourist-guide....s/el-born.html
https://www.spain-holiday.com/El-Born
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Old Nov 28th, 2016, 01:06 AM
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Just a word on semantics.
In Spain, the word 'Hostal' doesn't mean hostel as such with dorms but small, private hotel with individual rooms and normally private bathrooms, though they may have rooms with shared facilities. Youth hostel is albergue juvenile or often known as youth hostel.
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Old Nov 28th, 2016, 01:10 AM
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Good point from Alec. Hostales in Spain are often great atmosphere and very affordable.
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Old Nov 28th, 2016, 01:35 AM
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Long post from marvelous but I find it spot on.
I slept in dorms when 21 to save money and I slept in dorms in the army. In the army we were all young in the hostels not so. Big difference in snoring. Old guys fatter and with some drinks means snoring.

Hostels may mean friends but not that sure.

I can recommend good small hotels for about 50-60 euros in Paris double.
I slept in 2-3 hostels. Spent more and slept less well.

Mvg
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Old Nov 28th, 2016, 12:40 PM
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"Unless you sleep like the dead, you'll probably get woken up a few times in a dorm."

How well you sleep is a very important consideration. I am a light sleeper. I find dorms awful. If you're awake you notice things other than noises, like lights and smells. And sometimes more smells.

On the other hand one of our sons sleeps through hurricanes. To him there is no difference between a dorm and a private room. It's dorm every time for him.
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Old Nov 28th, 2016, 01:17 PM
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This may give you some idea !!

I have booked 4 nights at Hostel International Hotel Lozanni
early May of next year in a private room for €94.

At 76 with arthritic probs I now have to opt for non bunk accomodation

If you check their site you can compare dorm to my cost

Hope this helps
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Old Nov 28th, 2016, 01:18 PM
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Oops sorry thats Hotel Lozanni Athens

Close to Omonia Metro
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Old Nov 28th, 2016, 01:57 PM
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A few things I thought to add:

In terms of sleeping, the smells and lights can be problematic. A small all girls dorm usually helps with both- the slobs and very young are generally in the cheapest, largest dorm. A lot of my roommates have been around 25-30 yr old veteran hostel goers- they're very quiet and don't use the lights late or early because they want the same consideration in return. You may still want to bring an eye mask- I do, as I'm very sensitive to light.

It might be a poor choice if you enjoy a midday nap or if you keep odd hours or if you really enjoy dressing up. It's not like you can put a do not disturb sign up! I make hostels work because I am out the door early and back around 10. Hostels do not (normally) have complimentary hair dryers and irons- the latter I doubt would be an issue but the former is something a few of my friends really don't like.

Also- one of the things I suspect might be a problem to some is that usually in a hostel you have no control over the thermostat. And I think I've only stayed in 1 with a/c. In Europe this is probably less of a shock- hotels are more likely to be in older buildings anyway.

You can make friends or at least drinking buddies. I don't generally- I am not in hostels enough to socialize, and I'm not much of a drinker. One of the things that I do like about hostels is that they generally organize pub crawls or walking tours. Hostels feel a lot less isolating that budget hotels to me. Front desks can usually tell you all the basic local info, although they're pretty useless on food if you're after non-student food. You need to generally be more proactive about sightseeing- if you're the kind of person who really like concierge at the more expensive hotels, a hostel may feel too independent at first. I'll admit that sometimes I miss the conierge service but I don't really care about the other hotel services.

Free wisdom (earned the hard way): if the front desk puts you in a room with a tour group, try to change rooms. If not possible, this is a good time to dip into your emergency funds and put yourself up at a nice hotel!
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Old Nov 28th, 2016, 03:34 PM
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The air con incompatabilty can be an issue and on this I know

Stay at Cairns YHA (Australia) and 4 males --4 different needs for setting aircon

Also lockers at one per bunk --arrive late to find some thoughtless person using two

Also power points for charging usualy not one per bunk so
that can annoy

I singled out Cairns but have stayed at hostels on 6 continents and have enjoyed them with really no bad experiences--well life threatining anyway
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Old Nov 28th, 2016, 03:36 PM
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hostelworld.com gives you ratings and reviews
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Old Nov 29th, 2016, 02:56 AM
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I don't know anything about Hotel Lozani ( which is the greek name for the city of Lausanne in Switzerland) , but i would not recommend the area......
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Old Nov 29th, 2016, 01:15 PM
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Have not been near there must admit and after some dodgy areas in Nairobi and Joburg rekon this be a tad safer

But am a male so yes for females maybe not an area to consider
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Old Nov 29th, 2016, 05:47 PM
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It's true that sharing a small room in a budget hotel - esp with shared bath - can often be as cheap as a hostel. But it doesn't provide the opportunity to meet young people from many other countries. Many hostels have some private rooms but I think en suite is very rare - stil a shared bath.

The key things in hostels are 1) location and 2) picking the right ones. Most are fine but some are hotbeds of drugs, theft and other problems. You need to do a lot of research to figure out which are best. Check out the Let's Go Student Guide and the Thorntree Section f the Lonely Planet web site for info from other young super budget travelers. But do be aware that the best hostels will book up far in advance (yes, months in advance in summer) so do your research and then don't dawdle.

Also, be sure to check their AC status, amazingly to many americans not all places have AC, even in countries that are very hot in the summer like Spain, Italy and Greece. (This is one reason when our 19 year old DD went with 2 friends they decided to spend a little more and stay in 2 or 3* hotels with AC - and cut out shopping to make up for it.)
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Old Nov 30th, 2016, 07:54 PM
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Staying in Hostels - Any Advice???
Posted by: katiemoy on Nov 28, 16 at 12:24am


Advice -- do it.

I had traveled for decades in Europe staying in 2* hotels. Now I prefer hostels. Hostels are less expensive and more fun. Here is an intro to what to expect http://www.enjoy-europe.com/typ/hostels.htm. Joining Hosteling International, https://www.hihostels.com/, is smart. The HI group is well managed. If you consider London I recommend the London School of Economics Rosebery Hall for a similar experience, http://www.lsevacations.co.uk/Accomm...bery-Hall.aspx.
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