Booking a hostel for the first time? Answer these 16 questions first

Jan 25, 2023

Hostels are an awesome budget housing option for solo travelers, couples, digital nomads, and groups of travelers. And before I lose you because the word “hostel” sounds dirty (and would send your parents into a panic): 

  • Yes, I’ve seen Taken.

  • Yes, I am a health and cleanliness freak. 

  • Yes, I think obsessively about the safety and security of myself & my belongings.

  • No, I wouldn’t be caught dead in a place that wasn’t up to my absurdly high bar. So you can trust me on this!

Are hostels safe? How does the experience stack up to the cheap price tag?

I think the better question is “are some hostels gross and unsafe and therefore not worth savings?” Sure, some. But are some HOTELS gross and unsafe and still expensive? Absolutely. 

Your experience depends on what you’re looking for and how smart you are in your approach to finding it.

How can you make sure you book the best hostel for you and know exactly what you’re getting? Read on!

So what is a hostel really (and how can I book a good one)? 

Imagine a resort and a college dorm had a baby.

Contrary to everything I’ve ever heard from people who have never set foot in a hostel themselves, my experience has been good 90% of the time (the time it was less than great was when someone else booked my accommodations for me).

There’s a huge range in comfort, style, safety, and price of hostels. I’ve stayed in some that felt like 5 star resorts vs. a bed & breakfast vs. a gross college dorm. Depending on your requirements (price point, private room vs. shared, distance to city center or public transit, free breakfast, resort style with pool, etc) there’s a hostel that will suit most everyone’s needs at an incredibly decent price point. You just need to do your research! 

Pro tip: read the reviews for the hostels you’re looking at on You’ll see brutally honest reviews from people like you.

Before you book a hostel, you need to be able to answer these 16 questions:

Hostel amenities

    • Is there high speed wifi?

    • Is there air conditioning?

    • Are any toiletries provided, like shampoo or soap?

    • Is there housekeeping?

    • Will I need cash or coins for laundry?

    • Is there a specific co-working space?

    • Do I need to bring my own laundry detergent?

    • Is there a discounted room rate for longer term stays?

Hostel safety and security

    • Are there lockers for luggage? 

    • If so, how big are they?

    • Do they come with locks, or do I need to bring my own?

Hostel linens and towels

    • Is bedding provided, or is there an extra cost?

    • Are towels provided, or is there an extra cost?

Hostel kitchen/breakfast

    • Is breakfast included?

    • If not, is there a breakfast that I can pay for in advance at a cheaper rate?

    • Is there a shared kitchen where I can keep my own food?

I hate the stigma around hostels because if more people knew about the many, many good ones, then traveling would be more accessible for people with a tighter budget. For example, check out this resort style hostel I stayed at in Tulum, Mexico for $13 a night (the pictures in this blog are from there!)! Let’s stop the stigma, people.

Looking for more? Don’t miss the best-of-the-best!

Are you new here? Let’s be friends! I’m Sarah— a solo female traveler (& world’s okayest travel blogger) helping you travel the world, discover surprising destinations, & have a laugh getting off the beaten path. Scroll to the bottom of this page to sign up to stay in touch (I promise not to spam you- just to share the best travel hacks, guides, itineraries, embarrassing stories, and unmissable experiences)!

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