How to find the best accommodation

My first tip for finding the best accommodation is:

HOSTELS

 

If you have stayed at hostels in the past, you already know how amazing they are.This is of their low price, but because of the atmosphere and the people you meet. If you have not stayed at hostels then you may have preconceptions about getting your stuff stolen or that they are dirty and grimy.

 

The Honest Truth

The honest truth is that there are many downsides to staying in a hostel but the pros outweight the cons. Some people will leave at 6am in the morning and some people will get home at 6am in the morning. Some people will be weird, some shy, some too friendly. Others will have slightly bad habits such as snoring or being messy.

However, these downsides are rarer than you think and when experience them, chances are you can change rooms. oh…Nobody will steal your stuff. Hostels take this seriously and more often than not there are lockers for your stuff.

I will not lie, I have had people in my dorm room that are downright weird or annoying etc but you either ask to swap rooms or wait it out, chances are either you or them will be leaving very soon. The worst type of people you will meet are the ones you will moan at everything not realising that it is a dorm and you should expect some ind of disturbance, 

 

The Beauty of Hostels

The atmosphere of a hostel is incredible. You meet so many like minded people who just want to enjoy life and experience everything they can. You will make friends, sometimes for life and have an incredible time. I genuinely believe the enjoyment of travelling stems more from the people you meet than the places you visit. Try it once, and I bet you love it.

The first hostel I ever stayed at was in Edinburgh, Scotland. This is not far from where I live but I was running a marathon and did not want to travel into Edinburgh in the early hours. I got to the hostel around 11pm at night and instantly made friends, arranging a drinking contest with an American within 5 minutes. 

He won the drinking contest and I cannot remember anything from that night . I do recall asking an a girl to marry me, and apparently escaping through a fire exit looking for a toilet, running away and getting lost only for a different guy from the hostel to find me. 

It was such an amazing night and felt like I was travelling the other side of the world even though I was only 50 miles from home. We explored the city, climbed Arthur’s Seat, and I introduced him to Greggs the bakers. It was so good I want to do it again, all because I stayed at a hostel. 

When shouldn’t you stay at a hostel? 

 

You Shouldn’t if…

If you are high maintenance then consider something else. I say this for your own benefit. If you cannot cope with little downsides then you will not be able to enjoy the benefits. As simple as that, not everything is for everyone. 

 


 

What to consider? 

Okay, so the following tips are going to be geared towards finding the best accommodation in the form of a hostel but they still apply to other types of accommodations i.e hotels. If you are looking for 5 stars then you are on the wrong blog.

 

Price

Well price is the main factor. You shouldn’t select your accommodation solely on the basis of price but it does have a big influence over where you should stay.  I personally recommend that you filter accommodation by price first then compare the cheapest 5 results using the other criteria.

Bonus Tip: Advice from my friend Marek who works at a hostel – Always book the second cheapest dorm room as you are less likely to get a weirdo in your room. 
 

Rating

Rating is what I like to call a “surrogate indicator of quality” – some fancy word I learned in Marketing. It basically indicates how good the hostel is likely to be as you can’t try before you book. Do not rely too much on these numbers but use them as a rough estimate. I would probably book a 8/10 hostel over a 7/10 hostel but a 7.8/10 wouldn’t excite me more than a 7.5/10. Use these rating can be used as “Goal difference”. When you have used all other criteria but still cannot decide, choose the higher ranking accommodation.

My favourite and east favourite hostels are both 8.9 put it that way. 
 

Reviews

This is a good way of trying to decide the best accommodation from a list of search results. It is a good idea to stay somewhere or not as you can get to know why people rated the accommodation they did. My tip here is to filter the bulls**t as a lot exaggeration takes place. A good stay becomes an amazing stay and a bad stay becomes a horrible one. Look for the middle ground reviews and read the pros and cons. 

Note: If something genuinely is really bad then multiple people will hve mentioned it. 
 

Location to Centre

I do not guess which is the best accommodation based solely on its location to centre but this is the first stage of elimination. If it is 2 km outside the centre or more then I consider eliminating it unless it looks fantastic or there are really good and cheap transport links such as tram or metro. Usually the ones that seem like an unbelievable deal are further out so make sure you check it so save disappointment.
 

Appearance

This is a great indicator of quality, I mean what can be better than actual visuals. As long as you keep in mind that these photos have been taken from the eyes of the owners trying to convince tourists, then you can cut through the crap. I’m not sure what I should say you should look for but I can imagine for everyone a quick look through the pictures will give you a clearer idea of whether you may want to stay there or not.

 

Bonus advice:

My friend over at Plan. Save. Travel has listed a few “Things to keep in mind before booking a Hostel“. These are little details that make a whole lot of difference in finding the best accommodation. Trust me 

 

Where to Search?

So now you what the main areas are to consider when booking accommodation. I use these tips every single time I book and I have never had a bad experience yet. Like seriously, not one. Well, if we don’t include Nepal but we probably got the best available.

Infact, lets talk about Nepal. We were unable to lift money from the ATM at the airport and managed to get a taxi. We stopped at several for it not too work. We arrived at the hostel needing them to cover our taxi fee which he thankfully did but he was drunk as a skunk.

He said that we were later than we had said we would be and he had no rooms, even though our plane was delayed which was not our choice. He took us to a nearby accommodation and said to meet him in the morning where he was the nicest guy ever. The rest of our stay was perfect.  

 

Hostelworld

Anyway, its all fine well knowing the tips to search but knowing where to search for accommodation is just as important. My all time favourite accommodation search engine which I honestly cannot fault is HOSTELWORLD

 

HOSTELWORLD - Finding the Best Accommodation

 

The reason I love hostelworld so much starts off with my love for hostels and the fact that it doesn’t includes hotels, apartments and a lot of other nonsense. It literally takes you 5 minutes because it is not full of crap.

The other reasons I like it is because they understand the main things you look for in a hostel and display them easily. Hostels can be eliminated or shortlisted easy using the tips above as it is easy to see price, location, rating etc etc.

The feature I like greatest however, is on the reservation. There are directions from all the main points such as airports and stations to the hostel and it is easy to follow. This is plain to understand and I have found every single one of the hostels I have stayed at using this…with no issues whatsoever.  p.s. I am terrible at following instructions. 

 

Booking.com

You have decided not to stay in a hostel for your own personal reasons. Where should you search? The one I would recommend most is  Booking.com which isn’t quite as pretty as Hostelworld but it has some quality features.

 

booking.com - Finding the Best Accomodation

 

The colour scheme is not as user friendly but it is great for searching all ifferent types of accommodation. With booking.com,  everything is listed so you know you are finding the best for you

The coolest feature of booking.com is the notifications. When trying to find the best accommodation it gives you relevant interesting information. Notifications include times visited, whether it is the cheapest you have seen so far and how many have booked in the last hour/day.

What I would recommend to you guys is to have a play about on the search engines and see which would you prefer more. You can click the text links or images to go through to the respective websites. Happy Hunting. 

If you have questions, please email me at graeme@letsbackpack.co.uk