Whether you’re looking for an affordable guesthouse in London or a budget bunk in Bangkok, the travel site HostelWorld.com provides online booking for 8,500 hostels and other low-cost lodgings in 155 countries, all on one website. We came across the site during our online wanderings, and decided to take a closer look to see how the site could benefit students. We spoke with staffer and long-time budget traveler, Andrew Fassnidge, based in HostelWorld’s Dublin office, who explained how his site offers a convenient way to find lodgings that are cheap, safe, and close to the action in destinations worldwide.
Fassnidge said that, unlike some hostelling organizations, HostelWorld is not a membership-based group. You can book accommodations in independent hostels, B&Bs, guesthouses, and campsites without buying a membership. And, you can also book hostels that are part of a membership network like Hostelling International for the same rate as a member, even if you’re not part of the organization. (However, you’d lose out on hostel member benefits like discounts on city tours and international phone calls.)
All HostelWorld bookings are subject to a $2 booking fee, but, Fassnidge pointed out, if you purchase a HostelWorld Gold Card for $10, all booking fees are waived for 12 months. This seems to be a fair offer, given that Hostelling International membership costs $28 for 12 months and only gives you access to 4,000 hostels.
We went through the booking process on site to see how easy it was to use and to find sample rates. To book a hostel through the site, simply select a country, a city, an arrival date, and the number of nights you need in the reservation box on HostelWorld’s website. A list of lodgings will appear, displaying a brief description of each hostel along with its base price and availability.
Sample low rates for stays in January include prices from:
- $3 in Bangkok
- $4 in Buenos Aires
- $13 in Sydney
- $15 in Moab, UT (near Canyonlands and Arches National Park)
- $16 in London
- $20 in New York City
Clicking on a property name will show photographs and detailed information about the hostel including amenities; rules; directions; and proximity to nearby subway stops, attractions, and ATMs.
Fassnidge explained that customer ranking also plays an important role in the hostel’s listing. Past hostel guests rank each property from 1 to 100 percent (100 percent being the best) in six categories including character, security, location, staff, fun, and cleanliness. The average of these rankings becomes the hostel’s overall ranking. Any property that receives an overall ranking below 50 percent is dropped from the site. HostelWorld staff also conducts on-site visits of hostels to make sure the properties are up to snuff.
We found these quality control measures to be important because they can help ensure that you find a decent hostel, particularly in destinations that you might not be familiar with. (I, for one, have spent nights in some sleazy joints in unfamiliar cities because I did not investigate the hostels’ reputations in advance.) Customers can help themselves by reading the hostel information and rankings carefully, as it’s important to choose a hostel not just by price, but also by location, amenities, and other factors. To help you get a better feel for the area where you’ll be staying, HostelWorld employs a team of travel writers who explore various destinations on a backpacker budget and report on the sights to see and ways to save.
Editors at SmarterTravel.com have used HostelWorld to book accommodations, with good results. Knowing in advance that you have a secure, friendly place to rest your head after a long day of travel in a new place is a luxury that you can definitely afford.