Kitchenette in Itaca Hostel in Barcelona, Spain
Dorm in Glebe Point Hostel, Sydney Australia
Hostels range in price but they are usually the cheapest lodging option in most cities. You can often find a bed in mega-cities for less than $20. A hostel has very little to do with youth, although there is still a network of official youth hostels, which anyone of any age can use. A hostel is simply a hotel where you sleep in a shared bedroom, or a dorm, instead of a private room. Shared facilities mean cheap digs. (The exception is South and Southeast Asia where private rooms are as cheap as hostels). Hostels also often have a shared kitchen which residents can use. This means hostels are very social places with lots of interaction between travelers.
Cool Tools previously reviewed the hostel booking site Hostels.com, but that site has fallen a bit behind the times after a change in ownership. Much better these days, with thousands of more hostels in their database, and a lot more friendly mojo, is Hostelz. It is the most complete and useable portal for global hostelling.
Started by a backpacker, the web site Hostelz list some 22,000 hostels and guest houses around the world. They encourage independent reviews by users and don’t censor negative reviews. In addition, they hire backpackers $7 to officially review hostels for the site. Hostelz graciously provides you with the complete contact and location information of each hostel so you can book a room yourself. But Hostelz also provides the option to book a room through them at the same price. Since they do not charge hostels to be listed, this booking option provides their only income, which so far is enough to keep the site going.
Hostels are a great, often overlooked resource, and Hostelz is your best bet for finding one.
Kabul Hostel, Barcelona.
17-25 Euros per bed.
This hostel lived up to its name as the party hostel. I stayed in a twenty-person dorm for three nights and there was always at least one group that stayed up well past 6 a.m. One night we had twenty-three people (three people on the floor). If you want to sleep, do not stay in a twenty-person dorm. It did not help that I got the biggest party room in the entire hostel. (I’m not really complaining — I had a great time.) Earplugs help. The good — spacious lockers and toilet facilities, hot water. Excellent location if you want to stay where the action is. Lots of French girls. The not so good — never-ending noise when you want to sleep. Staff were generally rude at the front desk. (No big deal but other hostels had friendlier service.) Five internet computers for two hundred-plus guests meant there was always a line. I would stay here again.