Saturday, April 23, 2016

Backpacking Europe: Hostels

Hostels. Ahhh, hostels. Love them, hate them, you can't properly backpack Europe without them. When I was abroad, and when I was traveling with my friends, we only used hostels to stay in. There are pros and cons to hostels compared with other accommodations (namely Airbnb), but they are cost effective and when booked properly, have a lot of bang to their buck.

Searching for Hostels: Once you've decided where you want to go, start looking on Hostelworld.Com or Hostels.Com for available dates. This is also where you might want to consider Airbnb, especially if you have been to this destination before. HostelWorld and the like do a great job at ranking hostels, providing reviews, showing the location on the map, and listing amenities. Always, always, read the reviews!! Read all of them, if possible! Then decide what's most important to you based off them: a hostel with incredible amenities, but a higher price, right in the middle of the city? Or a cheaper hostel with a few less amenities a little bit outside of the city? (This will also depend on the transportation of the city).

Booking Hostels: My friends and I learned the hard way that it is ALWAYS better to book a hostel directly through their own personal website rather than HostelWorld! HostelWorld does a great job at listing out hostels and their reviews, but they have an insanely complicated booking fee and refund policy (that my friends and I didn't read all the way through... It came back to bite us in Venice!). Booking directly through the hostel alleviates most of the booking fees, as well as gives all of the money to the hostel so they can spend it on things like more amenities for guests!

Personal Recommendations:
  • Mosquito Hostel in Krakow, Poland
    • Right in the middle of the old city
    • Free dinner!! (Let me just say it again... FREE DINNER)
    • Guided tours through the hostel of Auschwitz/Birkenau and the Polish salt mines
  • Hostel Blues in Bratislava, Slovakia
    • Free walking tours through the hostel
    • Fast wifi
    • Girls only rooms (I liked this option when I was traveling alone!)
  • Generator Hostel in Venice, Italy
    • Clean, spacious rooms
    • Delicious restaurant (unfortunately not free)
    • Right at the waterfront (some of my favorite memories are from this hostel... sitting by the water, drinking wine with my friends, and talking about life!)
    • (P.S. Generator is a chain of hostels! We stayed with them in Berlin as well; they also have locations in Paris and London just to name two!)
  • Ostello Bello in Milan, Italy
    • A little pricey, but SO WORTH IT
    • Best tiramisu I have ever had in my life
    • An amazing location right down the street from the famous Milano shopping district ;) 
Some of the things I liked about hostels compared to apartment renting include walking tours, pub crawls, and just the general atmosphere! I met people from all over the world in all stages of life at some of these hostels, and if I hadn't, my Europe experience just would not have been the same!

In my next backpacking Europe post, I'll try and tackle the biggest concern: packing.

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