The 101 Guide to Choosing a Hostel

Two travelers walk to their hostel after choosing a hostel with Jaya Travel & Tours.

Any savvy traveler will tell you that hostels are a great way to meet new friends, tour the city, and save some money. While living in hostels can be fun and exciting, one must obviously keep an eye out for red flags. Because this can be a challenging decision, we’ve created a helpful hostel 101 guide for traveling! T

here are a few things to watch out for when choosing a hostel you’ll be staying at, and Jaya Travel lists 10 tips to make it easier.

Table of Contents

10 Tips for Choosing a Hostel

Cheaper Is Not Always Better

An exterior of a hostel with colorful doors for Jaya Travel & Tours guide for choosing a hostel.

Everyone wants a bargain, but sometimes saving a little bit of money to sacrifice a LOT of quality is not a wise choice. You may find yourself in horrible conditions, like no air conditioning/heat, bedbugs, uncleaned bathrooms, and more. Always make sure to check the reviews of the hostel before booking it. No one wants a stinky broken toilet greeting them after exploring the city for hours.

Consider the Breakfast Offered

Some hostels offer off-brand toast and coffee that barely qualifies as food. Others have a continental breakfast, coffee, tea – the works. While you may opt to dine out first thing in the morning, having the option to grab breakfast without leaving your hostel is always nice, especially if you’ve had a late night. Before booking, make sure to inquire about what sort of breakfast – if any – is offered and also when it’s offered.

Some hostels only cater to the most punctual early birds and stop serving breakfast by 8:00 AM. Unless you genuinely enjoy getting up early, consider a hostel that serves breakfast until 9 AM or 10 AM.

Proximity To Public Transit

If a hostel is close to a subway, bus stop, or train station, it’ll be easier to explore the local area. Additionally, getting to and from the airport, especially if you haven’t reached your final destination, is vital. Even if the hostel is your final destination, choosing one near transportation reduces the stress of finding cabs to book or walking long hours.

24-hour Check-in & Late Checkout

You may tell yourself you’ll get up with the alarm and keep some semblance of a schedule on vacation, but let’s be honest: vacation is about taking a break from all that. A late checkout will afford you more time to recover the sleep you lost (and don’t forget how much of a toll jetlag takes). 24-hour check-in is ALWAYS a good thing, it means that someone will be at the desk 24/7 to help with problems. Secondly, you’ll never have to worry about when you want to arrive. Maybe you want to have lunch before you check in.

Wi-fi Is a Must

Backpacker using her phone in a hostel at Varanasi India

Having free Wi-Fi to watch Netflix at night, connect to a business meeting, or send an email to your travel agent takes stress off your plate. You won’t have to scour the city looking for a coffee shop or your next dinner destination!

If you’re traveling abroad, most places aren’t open 24 hours or even past 9:00 PM. If you’re in desperate need of the internet, you’ll be royally out of luck. Choosing a hostel with free Wi-Fi is guaranteed to help you relax and unwind — something you should be doing on a vacation.

Look at the Photos, Not Just the Reviews

Anyone can dash off a positive review, but pictures don’t lie! There are tons of sites full of user-uploaded photos that showcase the good, the bad, and the ugly of hostels. Choosing a hostel after reviewing pictures online ensures that you will not be surprised (unpleasantly) when you check in. If the reviews seem positive but the photos give you pause, trust your gut and keep looking!

Make Sure Your Room Has Lockers

Interior of the students hostel with modern bunk beds and locker for personal things

Look for rooms with lockers when you are choosing your hostel for your next trip — especially if you’re sharing a bunk with others. Most hostels will offer some form of cubby to store your luggage, but make sure you have one with a lock and key because you never know.

It’s advisable to bring your own combination lock in case the hostel doesn’t have its own. We’d all like to trust the cleaning staff and our bunk-mates, but things happen and you don’t want your vacation to be ruined.

Pro-tip: Contact Jaya Travel & Tours for travel insurance to protect against lost or stolen items and more!

Hostel Atmosphere

Many people shy away from hostels because they assume they’re full of loud, rambunctious teen backpackers. This is not necessarily the case. In fact, some hostels cater to more mature travelers who don’t want a loud atmosphere and simply opt for an affordable – and quiet – place for the night.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to let your extrovert flag fly, there are hostels perfect for you. Some even have age restrictions so that only a younger crowd is there. If in doubt, you can always have your Jaya agent send an inquiry to make sure you won’t be miserable during your stay.


A young female Jaya Travel & Tours customer waits for their shuttle transportation to their hostel at after a flight at the airport in Bangkok, Thailand.

Some hostels offer free shuttle service to and from downtown areas or other popular landmarks. Do have a lookout for such venues while choosing a hostel, it’ll make transfers and transportation much easier. There may even be a designated pick-up point for tour operators! What’s more convenient than simply stepping outside and being picked up for a day of adventure?

Multilingual Staff

It’s always advisable to learn some basic phrases in the language of the country you’re visiting. However, the check-in and check-out process can be complicated if you don’t speak the language. Always check to see which language(s) the hostel staff speak while choosing a hostel. It’ll save a lot of stress in the long run!

Book Your Next Hostel Today

Ready for a backpacking adventure? Let Jaya Travel & Tours find you affordable, comfortable hostels to whichever destination you choose! Get started with a free quote here.

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