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How do hostels work?
What is a hostel?
First of, what is a hostel? Hostels provide budget accommodation where guests can book a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom and common areas (such a kitchen, lounge, tv room etc). Rooms can be mixed or single-sex. More and more hostels now provide private rooms, family rooms and apartments. Dormitories can have from 3 to 36 beds in the room, the more beds in the room, the cheapest your stay will be.
Bathrooms are normally large, with several shower stalls and a row of sinks. Hostels tend to have only one or two bathrooms on each floor, but this, of course, varies from hostel to hostel.
Bar @ Les Piaules Hostel Paris
What are the different types of hostels?
1.Traditional youth hostels
These Hostels usually cater to students or young people and are normally supported by charitable organisations or schools or universities. Hostelling International, or HI, is the largest such organisation. These tend to be used for students on school tours or foreign students who spend a semester aboard.
2. Backpacker hostels
These hostels are run independently, providing a place to sleep for backpackers. Each Backpacker hostel normally has its own niche (such as running tours, events etc). They normally have far more character and personality. These hostels are my favourite ones. Also staying at one of these hostels, you supporting local businesses.
3. Flashpacker or Boutique hostels
Hostels have evolved greatly over the last 20 years and many are Flashpacker or Boutique hostels. These usually have a very high standard of customer service and have a more contemporary design. These hostels generally target slightly older and tech-savvy guests. These hostels will have many services/amenities that you would expect at a three-star hotel.
Common Area @ Clink Noord Hostel Amsterdam
How do hostels work? General FAQs
1. What do I get when I book a bed in a dorm room?
These really depend on the hostel. At a minimum, you will get a bed, (shared) bathroom facilities, and free WiFi. But most hostels offer various amenities such as a living room-style common room, kitchen facilities, guest computers, board games, a pool table etc. A lot of hostels will have a bar and some even have a restaurant as well.
2. Do hostels provide bedding?
Hostels normally provide all bedding.
3. Do hostels provide towels?
Hostels generally don't provide towels when staying in a dorm room. Many hostels will give you the option of renting a towel (normally at a cost of €1 to €2 per night), but it's best to bring your own. However, towels are provided when staying in a private room in a hostel.
4. Do hostels have showers?
Yes. Most dorms have large communal bathrooms with rows of showers and sinks. Normally the showers are partitioned for your privacy.
5. How much do hostels cost?
The price of a bed in a dorm room in a hostel in Europe varies a lot. It depends on many factors such as the type of the hostel and proximity to the centre. Hostels in Western Europe are the most expensive and the more East you go the cheaper it gets. Hostels in Western Europe start at €15 per night. The most expensive hostels are in London, Paris, Paris, Amsterdam, Zurich and Scandinavian cities. Hostels in Germany, Spain, Portugal and Austria are slightly less. You can still get hostels in Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary for as cheap as €5 per night.
6. Do hostels have lockers?
Yes, hostels nearly always have lockers for your bags and valuables. It is best to always bring own padlock for your the locker. These are normally located in your room close to your bed. A new trend has many hostels are offering over the last few years is a second smaller locker for your important valuables such as your phone, camera and passport. Some of these small lockers even have a power point inside where you can charge a device.
7. Are hostels safe?
Generally, all hostels are safe. Most hostels in major cities have 24/7 reception desks and more and more hostel dorm rooms are now keycard access only.
8. Are there age restrictions in hostels?
Of course, there are. Dorm rooms are usually only available for guests between 18 and 39 years old. Some hostels even have a lower age limit (than 39 years). The over 40s can still stay in hostels but in a private room.
9. Do hostels have curfews?
The quick answer is sometimes there are, but more and more hostels are getting rid of this policy as competition increases. This varies a lot from country to country. For instead nearly all hostels in Paris have a curfew time of 12 midnight. Some hostels in Germany will also have a curfew or a lockout period. My advice is to always read the hostel description and reviews before booking one.
10. Do hostels accept kids?
More and more hostels are now providing family rooms or apartments where kids can stay in a hostel but under the supervision of their parents. Obviously, party hostels are not suitable for kids.
Amazing Dorm Room @ Home Lisbon Hostel
What is the best website to book a hostel?
Hostelworld is by far the biggest and the best website for booking hostels. They have the best availability and prices. The website is designed to include many filters to help find a hostel that suits your needs best. For instead you can filter hostels by price or by rating for a particular city.
Reviews and ratings on this Hostelworld are very reliable because you have to have stayed in the hostel in order to leave a review. A general rule of thumb is that any hostel with a rating of over 7.0 will be fine. A hostel with a rating of between 8.0 and 8.6 is very good and any hostel that has a rating of over 9.0 is exceptional. My advice is to read the 10 most recent reviews when choosing a hostel. The reviews can also be filtered by category and language.