Brought to you by Hostelbookers
In the current economic climate, many of us are trying to find new ways of getting our kicks for less and we certainly don’t want to give up our holidays (especially if they’re Traincations!). Accommodation can swallow up the biggest portion of your travel spending money but opting for a hostel can ease the blow.
If you’re a hostel virgin, staying in a shared room might seem a little disconcerting but there is often the option for couples or families to stay in private rooms and ladies might prefer a female-only dormitory.
Hostels are really starting to give cheap hotels a run for their money with many boasting a heady list of facilities, stylish decor and an atmosphere geared towards meeting fellow travellers – something that hotels and apartments always lack. You can even find eco hostels nowadays. Take a look at these seven tips for finding the best hostels and stretching your travel budget when you’re on Traincation…
On a very basic level, hostels will provide your bed linen and towels free of charge. Wi-Fi access and internet kiosks are also usually available but check out if these services are free or charge an hourly rate. Breakfast may also be included in the price.
A new breed of boutique hostels are largely blurring the boundary between hotel and hostel. These luxury hostels are still cheap and offer more creature comforts such as Wiis, home cinemas, hair straighteners and often boast contemporary and stylish furnishings. PLUS Florence hostel for example boasts a swimming pool, gym facilities and a complimentary cosmetic packs for the ladies.
It’s still possible to travel green on a budget. St Christopher’s at the Mosaic House is Lisbon’s first hostel to install a grey water recycling unit with recuperates heat. Winner of the Eco-Friendly category in HostelBookers Awards for Excellence, this hostel also boast of rain dance showers, low-flow toilets and energy-efficient lighting.
Keeping your personal things safe will be a priority, especially if you are bunking down with other guests. Be sure to check that your hostel offers private lockers. You may need to bring your own padlock but the hostel will often sell these at reception.
You can find hostels pretty much anywhere; to suit your beach break, adventure holiday or city break. While it is possible to stay in a central location, opting for a hostel slightly out of town can result in cheaper room rates. Besides, you will be more likely to find local bars, eateries and enjoy a more authentic experience if you choose a hostel away from the major tourist attractions. If budget is your main reason for staying on the outskirts of town, make a note of the transport costs involved in reaching the city centre. The historic High Street Hostel in Edinburgh is slap bang in the middle of town, next to Edinburgh Rail station but also surrounded by green areas of Holyrood Park. It also invested in 75 acres of local woodland to make sure that the area remains as green as possible. So if green travel is important to you, find out what your hostel is doing to erase its carbon footprint.
For solo travellers in particular, meeting people is an important part of any trip. At the very least, make sure the hostel has a lounge area, which tends to be the place where everybody congregates after a busy day. Hostels with onsite bars are also particularly social and it’s even easier to get to know people over a drink or make plans for a night out on the town together. However, for families, a bar can sometimes be an indication of what type of atmosphere to expect at a hostel, so hostels with bars might be worth avoiding if you are travelling with young children.
At The Garden Backpacker hostel in Seville, guests relax in the garden and enjoy a cocktail from the bar at sunset. On Saturdays you can participate in ‘Paella Night’ followed by a bike tour of the city.
Value for Money
Hostels are totally geared up for budget travellers and, aside from a cheap room rate, can really make your travel money go further.
Paying to eat out three meals a day on holiday can be pricy. Book a hostel with self-catering facilities where you can prepare a light breakfast, packed lunch or throw together a dinner if you are too exhausted to venture out after a hectic day of sightseeing.
Find out if your hostel has any events planned during your stay. If they have organised a trip to a comedy club, pub crawl or provide a free city tour, they will no doubt be great value for money and offer another opportunity to meet fellow travellers.
To really know what to expect from a hostel, nothing beats asking previous guests. Read reviews and ratings to get an idea if the hostel is suitable for children, if the staff are friendly and speak your language, if the facilities are clean or if it is a sociable place to stay.
Pics: Hostelbookers, scissorsnaps