By Liliosa Castle
Art by Emily Upton
Whether you’re travelling solo, in a pair, or with a group, hostels will give your international adventure an unpredictable social experience that you wouldn’t get anywhere else. Staying in a hostel, opposed to a hotel means that you’ll have more money to spend on fun things, like snow globes and tequila shots! Here’s a beginner’s guide to what to look for in a European party hostel:
- A reasonable price.
Let’s get this one out the way first. Between $20 AUD and $40 AUD a night is a good place to start looking. Remember, super cheap places are super cheap for a reason. Hostels boasting a rate of $5 AUD a night will not be of reasonable quality. Even if the pictures look fine, even if their website has positive reviews from “guests”. Trust me – you’ll get there, hate it, and get stuck with a cancellation fee and the extra cost of looking for last minute accommodation.
- Staff that are almost indistinguishable from the guests.
They’re often young backpackers themselves, spending a few months in one place either because they fell in love with the city, or ran out of cash. They live at the hostel, go out with you at night, and lounge around hungover in the mornings. They’re the perfect combination of a camp leader and a drinking buddy.
- Seek out clean facilities.
You’ve probably heard horror stories of dorms filled with bed bugs and showers that give you foot funguses. Forget it, you deserve better. Don’t expect Hilton level fanciness, but hostels should be mostly neat and hygienic. Always read recent reviews before booking.
- A joy and convenience: Fast, reliable internet.
Okay, you’re not going to the other side of the world to play Candy Crush and watch Netflix, but if you’re planning your trip on the go, internet for bookings, banking, maps and language translations can be a life saver. And of course, for keeping your social media up to date with pics to make your mates jealous. Don’t forget to Skype your parents – they worry.
- Have a balanced itinerary.
Museums by day, pub crawls by night. Cycling tours by day, boat parties by night. Synagogues by day, glow in the dark mini-golf by night. Hostels that plan activities for guests allow you to experience things beyond Trip Adviser’s Top 10 List. Plus, when you go out as a pack you’re less likely to get lost.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of armbands.
Not only will you collect them like badges of honour, occasionally wearing a hostel armband gives you some sweet discounts at local eateries and bars. Can you say “Half price burrito” in Czech? No worries, just wave your arm band and smile.