If you’re new to backpacking, the idea of staying at a hostel may seem daunting. Even if you’re a well-seasoned traveller, you still want to make sure that the hostel you book meets certain criteria, whether it be cleanliness and facilities, or a great social scene.
If you’re wanting to come to a place that’s lively and social, you’ll want to make sure your hostel caters to a younger audience, or identifies itself as a ‘party hostel’. Here’s some key things to look for when browsing Hostel World or scoping out reviews and websites when choosing an awesome youth hostel.
1. On-site Bar or Nightclub
95% of travellers wanting to party like to engage in a social drink or two. Who are we kidding? Drinking and partying is part of the backpacking experience. Alcohol loosens up our insecurities and reservations, makes us more social, and leads to more epic stories. Larger hostels may have their own an on-site bar. Whether it be a full service bar, or a small area where the staff will serve you drinks, it’s crucial for there to be a designated area for guests to gather and engage in a good party time. Smaller hostels in city centres may have a pre-drink time in their lounge and then take guests out for a night on the town. Whatever it is, make sure there’s a space and time dedicated to our good friend, alcohol.
2. Complimentary Breakfast
Complimentary breakfast isn’t just about the greasy food or fluffy pancakes to fill our tummies when we’re hungover, it’s a social experience to congregate with other guests and laugh about the night before. Even if you didn’t partake in a wild night and you’re getting up early and need breakfast to start the excursions you’ve booked for the day, breakfast time is social time, and hostel staff make a mean full-breakfast!
3. Community Recreational Lounge or Reception Area
You need a space to lounge, chill, shoot the sh*t, log into the wifi, and just have some downtime to figure out your next adventure when travelling. Good hostels will have an area equipped with sofas, tables, games, TVs, video games, you name it. It’s even a plus if they have a lobby bar and a fridge full of sandwiches open 24/7!
4. Daily Activities
It can be kind of stressful to try and plan out your daily itinerary when visiting a place you’ve never been before. If you’re the type who likes to be social, you’ll be hoping to find another guest who is game for doing a fun activity with you. Some hostels plan fun activities on a daily basis for their guests, so all of the organization, logistics, and thinking is already done for you. Plus, you’ll already be with outgoing and ready-to-meet-people-people, and you can carry these friendships on into the night!
5. Nightly theme parties
A great hostel will have a wicked line up of events for you every night. Whether it’s just a pre-drink or a game before you go out to the bars, or a whole party planned on-site, the option to participate on a random Monday is always a plus when on vacation. If the hostel hosts their parties on site, this is even better. No cabbing or walking and finding your way home. If you decide you’ve had enough, your bed and PJs are just steps away.
6. Options for Private Rooms
Most hostels have some private rooms available, and although the classic dorms are the ultimate social backpacking experience, it’s nice to be able to retreat to a private room if you’re coming from a party hostel and need some privacy, or you’re “taking the night off” to relax in peace.
7. Communal dinners
You’ll find the youth hostels with the best guest experiences offer a communal meal at least one night a week, whether it’s Sunday Dinners, Taco Tuesdays, or barbecues on the beach. Organising your own food can be a pain, but when there is a community dinner, the work is done for you, and you get a chance to mingle with other guests at the hostel.
8. Friendly Staff and Convenient Services
Always check the staff reviews when looking into hostels. A fun staff makes for an enjoyable stay, as the best ones are passionate about creating a memorable and positive experience for their guests. Convenient services such as shuttles, laundry, meals, tours, and planned events are exceptionally helpful when travelling for extended periods of time and you get to the point where you’re sick of using Google Maps in a foreign place to get anything done.
9. Social Media Presence
These days, a reputable youth hostel will have a strong presence on social media. Look for their recent photos, comments, reviews and activity to show an accurate description of what’s currently going on and what you can expect during your stay!