While travelling on the cheap you're eventually going to be looking at hostels and there's no better site than Hostelworld. On the platform you'll find one of the largest collection of hostels from around the world.
As the de-facto place to book hostels, let's jump into making a super easy guide on how to use Hostelworld.
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Here's what we're covering:
How to use Hostelworld
Below is a breakdown of how seasoned backpackers use Hostelworld. With this information you'll be able to book your dream vacation.
If you're headed to Tulum in Mexico, make sure to check out our recent piece on the best hostels in Tulum.
Step 1: Go to the site
Go to your browser and enter in hostelworld.com.
Step 2: Enter your search parameters
Put in your destination of choice and the dates. When done, hit “Let's go”.
Step 3: Filter your search
Once the search results are displayed, use the filters to narrow down your search by choosing price range, mandatory facilities, room style etc.
Step 4: Sort your search results by rating
From my experience, hostels are top rated for a reason. The community is really good about leaving reviews and over time (since Hostelworld has been around for a LONG time), the good properties surface to the top. My strategy is to look at the top rated properties which is why sorting by rating makes sense.
Another number that I pay special attention to is the number of reviews. You can tell old properties from newer properties in this way. Older ones will have LOTS of reviews while newer properties will have less than 100. Now that's not a bad thing but if a new property as really high reviews, it could be biased so you have to be careful.
Step 5: The manual curation step
It's at this point where you'll need to make a personal decision on what factors matter most to you. Is it price, location, the type of room or something else that will help you decide? It's at this point where you should do your comparison shopping. Click into each property to dig deeper.
For price, availability and type of room, all you have to do is scroll down once you're viewing the property and you'll see what they have and at what price point. For type of room, do you want to go really cheap and find a large dorm room with a ton of bunk beds or an apartment/private suite. Also does an en-suite bathroom matter?
For location, always look at the Google Map in the “Map” tab to see whether the sights and activity you're doing are in the same area or at least convenient with public transportation.
Make sure to read the reviews as well as they will probably have the most recent information about what the property's current condition is like.
Note that all results that you see are available for the dates you've selected but if you start getting picky about the exact types of rooms you're looking for, it'll depend on availability
Step 6: Book your room
When you're ready to pay, hit the “Book Now” button at the bottom. This'll take you to the checkout page where you'll have to enter your details. If you're logged into Hostelworld, most of this should be filled out.
You’ll have to pay a deposit. What you'll notice is that Hostelworld has gone away with their “booking fee”. Instead, it's built into the price I believe. Also, you used to be able to enter in discount codes at checkout. This is gone as well. If you have an ISIC card, you'll have to sign up for an account through ISIC and through there you'll get a $5 USD credit that you can use within 30 days. Otherwise, I haven't found any other ways to get a discount per say.
Note that the only payment currencies are USD, GBP and EUR. You can switch the method of payment on the right hand side.
Insider tips for Hostelworld
Over the years I've learned a number of small things that have made my experience with Hostelworld that much better.
- If you're booking with a Hostelling International hostel there are typically additional fees if you don't have a their special membership card. One trick I tried to use for my last trip was to sign up for a group card with Hostelling International. It's free and should negate any non-member charges. Outside if that you'll just have to pay for it.
- Bring your own Dudley lock in case if they don't provide a built in lock system for their cabinets/lockers
- Additional fees to think about are internet, bedding, and breakfast. Sometimes you might find a property that's super cheap but if there are extra costs, you might be better off with somewhere else.
- Sometimes on Hostelworld you can find real hotels. This is what happened when I was in Venice. It was listed under hostels but when we showed up it turned out to be more or less a hotel room. There are some really great properties on the platform.
- When deciding whether you want to stay at a hostel, hotel, or homestay/B&B, the main question you'll need to ask is how many people are you travelling with and after you divide the cost, which is the cheapest and which will be the most comfortable/convenient.
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