Whenever I say the word “hostel,” my family cringes and probably pictures me sleeping with twenty other people in a filthy basement. On the contrary, I love hostels and think they are a great alternative to hotels for travelers on a budget. I am here to your challenge preconceived notions about hostels and tell it how it really is: the good, the bad and the ugly (but mostly the good).

Although hostels aren’t as common in North America, some European destinations have over one hundred hostels in a single city. You can only choose one so with over a hundred options, how does one go about selection a hostel? That varies from person to person. Personally, here are the steps I take: first, I filter by price and rating using my choice of search engine, HostelWorld. I like to stay at hostels under $30 a night that also have at least an 85% rating. If I get too many hostels, I narrow it down to better ratings and cheaper prices, and likewise, if I don’t get enough hostels, I broaden my preferences to lower rated hostels, until I get about a dozen hostels. Then, I select what facilities I prefer, such as a kitchen, lockers, free WiFi, free breakfast and luggage storage. Of the remaining hostels, I compare locations (I prefer hostels close to a Metro station for easy public transit), types of rooms (I prefer four to six bedroom dorms with an en suite) and photographs to make my final choice.

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