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Best Hostel Websites

Finding a place to stay abroad as a budget traveler on your holiday can be a very frustrating process. While Vicky and I plan to turn to couch surfers as our main source, you can’t guarantee that someone will be available, no matter how many people you mail or how much notice you give. In most cases, the next step will be to turn to a hostel or an apartment share. Where then, are the best hostel websites to go about this, and how do they stack up against each other?

The hostel websites we’re going to review are regarded as some of the best in their industry:

    Hostel World

  • Hostel Bookers
  • Hostels
  • Hostelz

Hostel Websites

 

HostelWorld

Results: 167

Lowest Total Price : $46.89 ***after $2 booking fee*** (Ranked 3 in returned results)

When you sort by price it displays the lowest per guest/per night price for all options covering the days you asked. One thing to be careful of is the first night may often be cheaper than say, the second or third, so that it ranks higher in the search engines. For example, the first two hostels that came up were actually $50 MORE EXPENSIVE than what I found by trying a few more farther down…

Functionality Table Summary:

Properties Included Sort Features Search Filters Views Review Metrics Extra
Hostels
Bed and breakfasts
Hotels
Apartments
Campsites
Availability
Price
Name
Rating
Features
Price
Payment Type
Property type
Reviews
Map view
List
Character
Security
Location
Staff
Atmosphere
Cleanliness
Cancellation policy
Facilities
Rates (other days)
Map and Directions
Reviews

 

Functionality: There’s a lot about the functionality that I really liked. First, the search filters allow you to select which features you want, which is clutch if you need a place with internet, for example. Moreover, the map view functionality is extremely helpful if you’re looking for certain areas or distances to public transportation. Berlin is a big city and this gets right to the point. In general, review metrics are nice but I don’t pay too much attention to anything outside of the overall, unless something stands out as being particularly bad (like cleanliness). Lastly, when you click on a place to view its information, it has some nice summary tables highlighting the features, rates (including days before and after your possible selection) and map in a clear and coherent manner.

Website Shots:

HostelWorld Search Results
View Features

 

HostelBookers

Results: 113

Lowest Total Price : $42.72 ***NO booking fee*** (Ranked 1 in returned results)

It’s important to call out a few things here. The first is that the hostel I found here is the same as what I found on HostelWorld, but it was $4 cheaper (that’s 10%). The second is that there is no booking fee, which, if you travel a lot, honestly could result in hundreds of dollars saved. Lastly, while with HostelWorld I had some issues in that I felt the price displayed was somewhat misleading (it only represented the cheapest night which was often 50% lower than subsequent nights), I did not run into this problem with HostelBookers. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, I’m just saying I found this site to be more consistent. This is why what ranked #1 in their search results only ranked 3 in HostelWorld, because in HostelWorld, the first two slots were occupied by hostels that had very cheap nights but expensive subsequent nights (resulting in double the overall price).

Functionality Table Summary:

Properties Included Sort Features Search Filters Views Review Metrics Extras
Hostels
Bed and breakfasts
Hotels
Apartments
Campsites
Price (private and sharing)
Name
rating
Features
Price
Payment Type
Property type
Reviews
Map view
List
Location
Facilities
Safety
Staff
Value
Cleanliness
Cancellation policy
Facilities
Rates (other days)
Map and Directions
Reviews
Check in check out
What’s included
Purchasable extras

 

Functionality: This site and HostelWorld have pretty similar functionality with some minor differences. The first that I liked about HostelBookers is the ability to not only sort by price but by whether or not that price was a shared room or a private room as I can definitely see that being a major decision by someone. The second is that they had some nice extras about the hostel called out that I didn’t see in HostelWorld, such as the check in/out time, purchasable extras, and what’s included. Outside of that I found everything to be pretty much the same.

Website Shots:

HostelBookers Search Result
Description Features

 

Hostels

Results: 163

Lowest Total Price : $46.89 ***after $2 booking fee*** (Ranked 3 in returned results)

This essentially returned the same results as hostel world, and as a result also had the same “issues” with pricing. There is a booking fee as well.

TIP: Register for monthly money saving offers from Hostels.com and pay no more booking fees.

Functionality Table Summary:

Properties Included Sort Features Search Filters Views Review Metrics Extras
Hostels
Bed and breakfasts
Hotels
Apartments
Campsites
Availability
Price
Name
Property type Map view
List
Location
Facilities
Staff
Cleanliness
Safety
Value
Rates (other days)
Map and Directions
Reviews

 

Functionality: In terms of pricing and results this site is very similar to HostelWorld but frankly hasn’t come as far a way in its functionality. It’s missing some really key search filters (features for example). Lastly, it doesn’t have quite as many extras as the aforementioned websites.

Website Shots:

Hostels.com Hostels.com  Search Results
Hostels.com Description Hostels.com Features

 

Hostelz

Results: 100+ (Didn’t call out specifically)

Lowest Total Price : $42.72 ***NO booking fee*** (Ranked 1 in returned results)

Hostelz actually combines search results from Hostel World, HostelBookers, Hostel Club, Student Universe and shows you the price of booking on each. You can literally see, for example, that HostelWorld charges more for the same place. By booking through HostelBookers you got the best deal. It’s a cool way to right off the bat get a comparison of them both.

Functionality Table Summary:

Properties Included Sort Features Search Filters Views Review Metrics Extras
Hostelworld
Hostelbookers
Hostelclub
Student universe
Availability and Rating
Price
Name
Area
Property type
Area
Transport (distance from)
Map view
List
Cleanliness
Staff
Location
Fun
Atmosphere
Security
Facilities
Rates (other days)
Map and Directions
Reviews

 

Functionality: Slightly less appealing to use because it includes some of the extras in the description instead of calling them out separately like HostelBookers and HostelWorld. That said, I give it credit for comparing reviews and prices on the websites that it includes (HostelWorld, HostelBookers, HostelClub, Student Universe)

Website Shots:

Hostelz Hostelz.com Search Results
Hostelz.com Description Hostelzcom Features

 

Recommendation: Hostel Booker

Hostel World
Hostel Booker
Hostels.com
Hostelz.com
Results
167
113
163
100+
Lowest Price
$47
$43
$47
$43
Sort Features
Excellent
Excellent
Excellent
Excellent
Search Filters
Excellent
Excellent
Average
Excellent
Map View
Reviews
Bonus/Extras
Cancellation Policy, Facilities
Cancellation Policy, Facilities, What’s Included, Purchasable Extras
Facilities

 

Although HostelBooker returned significantly less results than some of the other websites, I still prefer this one for several reasons.

  • Overall better deal and more upfront about the prices. With Hostel World if you didn’t do you research properly you could end up spending not just 10% more but 100% more.
  • No Booking Fee
  • Simple to use but had all of the features/functionality that I need.

It’s important to note that this was only one case studies and results may vary. Given enough time, I would probably check several of these hostel websites to really make sure I was getting the best deal, but I think Hostel Booker is my first choice going forward..

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11 Responses to Best Hostel Websites

  1. Couchsurfing is awesome, but even if you have a guaranteed place to stay it’s always a smart idea to know where hostels, cheap hotels, and campgrounds are just in case “guaranteed” doesn’t really quite mean guaranteed.

    Adventure Travel Editor June 13, 2012 at 1:01 PM Reply
    • Absolutely, and frankly, as much as I love couchsurfing it isn’t always the easiest thing to guarantee someone. I know when we went to Greece I messaged dozens of people and in the end we were only able to secure one couch surfer for a single night. I suspect some of the Asian countries will be the same.

      Dave and Vicky June 13, 2012 at 1:26 PM Reply
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  4. Hello Dave and Vicky,

    this is a very useful post for hostel travelers. Well done!
    May I add something?

    Gomio.com is also a powerful social hostel booking platform with more than 5000 hostels worldwide, and more than 10 years of experiences which takes the social travel part into account.

    With a booking through Gomio users have access to GoDashBoard to find and contact people who else will be in the same hostel, to meet up with locals, to get local reviews and local events – this tool is free and additional to the hostel booking.
    Maybe you want to check this out? Please let me know!

    I saw on twitter you are now in Burma, looking forward to amazing pictures!

    Take care!
    Matt

    Matt February 7, 2013 at 6:55 AM Reply
    • Hey Matt,

      Thanks for introducing us to a new one. It’s easy to get caught up in the habit of always using the same old one that you might not realize that other sites exist with better features and a stronger inventory. We will have to check Gomio out. Cheers!

      Dave and Vicky February 7, 2013 at 8:37 AM Reply
      • and yes Matt, we’d love to check it out if there are any experimental functionality etc you’d like to try, just shoot us an email with the details.

        Dave and Vicky February 7, 2013 at 8:38 AM Reply
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  6. Good review of hostel sites- it is always useful to find out which ones are best to list our hostel on!

    Mooca Hostel (@MoocaHostel) August 11, 2013 at 10:28 AM Reply
  7. Hey,

    I just created a website that allows backpackers to share events with each other. Could you include it on your website?

    Thanks
    Wayne
    http://www.hostelmeetup.com

    Wayne November 11, 2013 at 2:30 PM Reply
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