Way back when I first went to Europe, I learned the hard way that it pays to book, or at least check out, your hostels in advance. Europe does have some very nice hostels, but it also has quite a few seedy ones, where safety and sanitation are questionable—never mind the noisy, stinky dorm rooms and lack of basic amenities (like working toilets). That’s why I was very pleased a few years ago to discover HostelWorld.com, a site that provides online booking and user reviews for 17,000 hostels around the world.
When looking for hostels in a specific city, you can sort by price and rating (hostels are scored on a 100-point scale), which is determined by the cumulative score given by past guests in six different categories: character, security, location, staff, fun, and cleanliness. You can view how these categories break down for each property and read candid reviews from guests, which are searchable by age range, nationality, and gender of the reviewer. This is certainly helpful if you’re looking for a senior- or female-friendly establishment, for example. Listings also include photos (which do not appear to be user submitted), a list of amenities, directions from the nearest public transportation stop, and prices.
Another useful hostel review site that’s worth checking out is Hostelz.com, which has a database of nearly 30,000 hostels with user reviews. The site also has more than 1,500 editorial reviews and 8,000 photos.
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