Hostels can come in all shapes, sizes and
smells, and being prepared for this reality will make your trips
much more enjoyable when things go wrong, because trust
us, things will go wrong. However, many hostels have the
ability to make your trip, rather than break it.
Below we have compiled a list of the most common questions in order
to help you on your way to becoming your very own travel
What is a
Hostels are used to lure innocent students into becoming victims in
a multimillion dollar murder industry. KIDDING! Don’t believe the
rumors or the Hollywood depictions, because truthfully, hostels are
just as safe as hotels and much cheaper!
Seriously though, what is a
Hostels are budget accommodations that are typically marketed
to students and young adults. Most hostels have an age limit to the
people that are allowed to stay, while some offer their services to
travelers of all ages as well as families.
How safe are
Depending on the set up of the hostel, the security measures they
have will vary. Most hostels are set up so everyone that enters
must pass through the lobby before they can reach the actual rooms.
This allows the front desk to better observe people coming in and
out of the hostel. Some hostels will require you to show your room
key or an ID before heading to your room, while others have an ID
scanner located outside of the main entrance or before certain
wings of the hostel before you can proceed. As an effort to
eliminate guests losing room keys, combined with being an extra
safety precaution, many hostels will require you to leave your room
key at the front desk, which can only be obtained again by showing
a valid ID that matches the name associated with the room. While
most hostels do have security measures put in place, there
are also some that do not. In order to ensure that the hostels you
book not only have security measures put into place, but are also
located in a safe area, you should always consult the “User
Reviews” section of the hostel booking engine that you are
How do I book a
The best way to book a hostel is always in advance and through an
online search engine. Hostel search engines allow you to search
within a specific country and city for exactly what you are looking
for based on the amount of people you are traveling with and the
size of your budget. Below are two of our favorite
Hostel Search and Booking
Customer Reviews, to read or not
YES! YES! YES! When booking a hostel on either of
the search engines we provided, ALWAYS read through the customer
reviews! They are updated almost daily by hostel goers and will
give you fresh and unbiased insight into what to expect if you
choose to book with that specific hostel. Just because the hostel
claims they have clean rooms, doesn’t always mean they are telling
the truth. That’s where customer reviews come in! They give you the
dish on everything from the employees that work there to the type
of people that lodge there. Trust us, it’s worth reading!
What types of rooms are available in hostels?
Rooms can vary from single rooms, double rooms all
the way up to rooms for 18 people or more. Keep in mind, the
smaller your room is, the more expensive it will be. With this in
mind, it is important to remember that if you booked a room that
fits 8 people, but there are only 5 of you, it means that there is
a strong likelihood that 3 additional people that you don'y know
will be put into the room with you. It’s also important to
note that rooms are also categorized based on gender. Most hostels
designate certain rooms to be female only, male only or
the rooms look like?
Depending on the size of your room, the amenities
inside will vary. Single and double rooms usually have single or
double beds, while rooms with 4 or more are usually outfitted with
bunk beds. Most rooms also offer large lockers, which allow
travelers to store their belongings while they are out of the room.
You can also choose to book rooms with or without private
bathrooms. Most rooms are very simple with minimal furniture in
order to take advantage of the limited space available.
What is the average cost to stay in a hostel?
Just like hotels, the average price of a hostel
will fluctuate based on the time of year. Lucky for you, most of
St. John’s programs are held during the “off-season”, which means
that hostel prices will be much cheaper in comparison to traveling
in the summer. However, prices do become steep when festivals or
holidays come around, so booking in advance if you will be in
Venice during Carnevale is highly recommended!Depending on the size
of the room, the price per person will vary making the biggest
rooms the cheapest, and the smallest rooms the most expensive. The
cheapest hostel that we have personally seen while traveling was
priced at 8€ a person, per night, while the most expensive rooms we
found were priced as high as 70€ a night for a single.
What additional fees will I have to pay?
When you book your hostel, you should also look to
see what is included in the price. It is very common for hostels to
charge extra for the use of bed linens and towels. Normally the
price averages 1 or 2 euro for each. Free Wifi is occasionally
offered in many hostels, but if you are packing light and didn’t
bring your laptop, often times there will be one you can use in the
lounge for a small charge. (1€ coin will gain you anywhere from 15
minutes to an hour)
Whether or not a hostel provides linens varies
entirely from hostel to hostel. If a hostel does not provide
linens, you will have to pay a small fee of 1 or 2€. In addition,
many hostels do not allow travelers to bring sleeping bags in order
to prevent the spread of bed bugs, so keep that in mind if you do
intend to travel with one.
Private Bathrooms vs. Communal Bathrooms
- Private Bathrooms not only
eliminate the possibility of waiting in line to shower, but they
also prevent you from having to walk down the hallway in your towel
and flip-flops for the world to see! However, private bathrooms may
not always be what you expect. You may be lucky to find that you
have a normal shower, toilet and even a bidet in a moderately
spacious bathroom. You may also find that your private bathroom
consists of a shower head located directly above the toilet that
has a habit of leaking water into the rest of your room.
- Communal Bathrooms are located
off of the main hallways and house multiple stalls with showers and
toilets. Not all communal bathrooms are single-sex, so don’t be
shocked or think you walked into the wrong bathroom when you see
someone of the opposite sex brushing their teeth at the sink! The
main problem that can arise when opting for a communal bathroom is
the possibility of having to wait to shower. Most of the time,
hostels are well prepared when figuring out how many stalls they
need to accommodate their guests, but sometimes you may have to
wait if its overcrowded.
- Checking In:The more you travel the more you
realize things don’t always go as planned. When you book your room,
ALWAYS make note of the check-in times. Most hostels require you to
declare an arrival time so they know when to expect you or they
will have a set time for when guests are allowed to check in.
Seeing as anything that can go wrong, will go wrong when you
travel, make sure you always carry your cell phone with you and
have the number of the hostel you will be staying in. This will
prove to be extremely important when your flight is delayed and you
arrive hours after you had expected only to find out that your room
was given away because they considered you to be a “no-show”.
- Checking Out: Check out times are usually
early in the morning, but if your flight/train isn’t until later in
the day, most hostels will be more than happy to allow you to store
your luggage behind the counter or in a designated “luggage room”.
On the other hand, if you have to catch an early flight or train,
make sure you notify the front desk the night before, just in case
no one is on duty in the morning when you try to leave.
What should I bring with me to the
- Shower sandals! Private or Communal bathroom, it’s a MUST!
- A Lock. Use it to secure your belongings in a supplied
- Toiletries. Unlike hotels, hostels don’t provide free shampoo
- Adapters.Don't forget, each region in Europe uses a different
Disclaimer: This section was
written with European hostels in mind. If you have traveled outside
of Europe and had experiences in hostels (good or bad), please feel
free to contact us with more information so we can further prepare
students for traveling abroad!