Category Archives: Europe

ostello bello hostel milan

Interview with Francesco from Ostello Bello

 

Today, we’re going to Italy! Hey, and not just everywhere, but in Milan – the fashion heart of Europe. But Milan is SO much mure than just fashion – and nobody knows more about that than the guys from the Ostello Bello Hostel (Facebook).

Travel-Hostel: First of all,  thank you for taking the time to talk to us! Tell us a bit about yourself, the staff, nationality, mix of cultures, what keeps it going.

ostello bello1 hostel milan

Ostello Bello: Right now we’re a big group of people from all over the world. The owners and starter employees were born and raised in Milano.  As time passed by we’ve grown bigger and we got to work with people from everywhere. From Mexico to Bangladesh, passing through Poland and Lithuania we are getting as international as our guests are. We are pursuing a goal: to offer the typical italian hospitality in a multicultural atmosphere.

TH: How would you describe a regular day of the life – what you do, the different situations,  what kinds of problems can there be… basically, what do you like and what you don’t like about what you do?

OB: It’s not that easy to describe “a typical day in Ostello Bello”. Milano is a touristic destination itself, but also and above all a is a gateway to the whole Italy, moreover with serveal low cost companies flying here, we have mostly short staying guests. It means every day different people, different stories, different situations.

In addition, being Ostello Bello’s bar hosting different events and very popular among local youth (not just youth, to be true), from happy hour time we find ourselves in a dense and mixed crowd composed of milanesi, expats and hostel’s guests. This helps to create a varied atmosphere which is very stimulating and funny for us who are working there. And we hope to our guests as well. On problems, luckily, we never really had here, since we are close to the city centre, area is very safe, and bar people not rude nor dangerous all. So even the classical “bar problems” are really on lowest standards.

ostello bello hostel milan

TH: Wow, it’s amazing that you never have any significant problems, especially organizing events for such a diverse crowd! I guess this is what it comes down to being a good hostel. Speaking of, what makes a hostel a hostel – different from a hotel? Is it the spirit/concept, or just the smaller price range?

OB: The original idea of hostel is probably to be found in the need to save budget on sleeping. As easy as it gets backpacking became a way of travelling or even a lifestyle. What we offer is for sure a cheaper solution for those who need a bed in the centre of the city. But we all know people choose hostels because they like to meet other travellers. Here we push one step forward: we give a staff who has the same love for travelling and has the same will to communicate and share.

We are italian, hospitality is on our fingerprint.  If you come to OstelloBello you will be hosted by a big family, no more no less 🙂

TH: That’s amazing, I love that! Personally, it’s exactly what I look for when I’m traveling to a hostel, and it’s quite rare that you see a staff with actual experience in traveling. But what about your other visitors?Do people usually go to Milan hostels or hotels? And why do you think this happens?

Until a few years ago, Milano was known mostly for fashion, business and banks.

Until a few years ago, Milano was known mostly for fashion, business and banks.

OB: Until few years ago Milano was mainly known for business, fashion, and trade banks. Hence did not offer as many sleeping solutions as other European capitals do. In the last few years the city is getting more open and lively, famous as nightlife hub and touristic destination. Milano is changing its image to the world, also, offering new solutions to travellers, giving them opportunity to discover its unexpected face. And we can proudly say to be part of this process!

TH: Yes, I think especially with the development of low cost airlines, that was bound to happen – especially as Milan is an amazing city, with many touristic options. But, whenever you go to a new city, you always find out some things only after you get there. Could you tell us your best insider tips for anyone who comes and visits the city?

OB: I will give a tip which is good everywhere: Pick a local, and follow him! Avoid two decks bus and taxi, use public transport to cross the city, then simply lose yourself walking in the centre. Hanging from Sempione, to Brera ending up to navigli for a drink, you won’t regret it.

TH: Estimate (on the spot, just estimate) an average 7 day trip to your city.

duomo cathedral, milano. ostello bello.

Duomo Cathedral, Milano’s most iconic landmark.

OB: Day 1 A walk in the city centre, the Duomo cathedral, the castle Sforzesco, Ticinese and Navigli Canals where youth gathers, express arts, live the nightlife, full of unique shops, in a typical Milano postcard scenery.

Day 2 Brera the former artistic district and its Pinacoteca, Corso Garibaldi, where the brand new skyscrapers meet the old city architecture. A drink there is a must.

Day 3 Enjoy flea market in Fiera di Sinigaglia, visit Triennale art and design museum, and rest in the park swarming among sporty people, and chilled ones (only on sunny seasons).

Day 4 Pay respect to San Siro temple of football and get to find ticked to Inter’s or Milan’s game. Check with your own eyes how fun could be your hostel from happy hour all night long.

Day 5 Wake up early and visit Santa Maria delle Grazie and Leonardo’s world famous Last Supper. Then go to Università Statale, pretend to be an Erasmus Student, and hook up with boys or girls (or both, up to you).

Day 6 A shopping marathon can be more than satisfying in Corso Buenos Aires, the longest shopping street in the country. And if you are brave enough, test yourself in Via Montenapoleone. Be careful price there are in the “sky’s the limit” category.

Day 7 A sunny day at Lago di Como, is worth 40 minutes on the railway to get there. A beautiful blue lake, surrounded by mountain scenery is waiting for you there.

Lago di Como - just 40 minutes away from Milano.

Lago di Como – just 40 minutes away from Milano.

TH: OK, I’m doing that! It sounds like such a dreamy vacation, I just have to try it! Tell us about your own experiences – the people you meet, the good and the bad. What is it that you learned, do you have any advice for travelers – or for other hostel managers?

OB: Experiences bad and good can be quite personal, let’s just say someone here found love and built a family. As a bad experience we’d pick a somnambulist guy who was speaking unknown language during his sleepwalk. It’s funny to think about, but at the moment it was quite strange.

People we meet here, as I said, can be various so anyone can find someone to get well along with. In this work we basically learn to forget predjudices. Really. As well for advices everyone is different and needs his one. Travellers, workers and managers. Infact we’re in costant search of new advices. But one for all, we have been given, and we happily give back to everyone is: be open, be honest. You’ll be rewarded.

TH: Do you happen to have any information about fake reviews (because apparently that’s a thing)?

OB: We heard about it too, and some people left on purpose bad reviews for personal reasons. But we think it’s easy, for a reader, to spot a fake, its that one who says the opposite of all the others.

TH: What do you like to do on vacation and why?

OB: Might be surprising: during our vacation we love to travel!

TH:  Any other information/share/shutouts etc that you’d like us to know.

OB: Come to stay at Ostello Bello first drink is on us!

TH: Hehe, we just might take you up on that offer! Hey, and don’t worry, we’ll take our drinks to the bar 😉

ostello-bello3

Interview with Hostel Manager: Goran from Chill Out Hostel, in Zagreb, Croatia

We were now lucky enough to chat with Goran, who runs the Chill Out Hostel in Zagreb, Croatia. You can read the interview below. Previous Hostel Interviews:

Travel-Hostel: First of all, tell us a bit about yourself, the staff, nationality, mix of cultures, what keeps it going etc.

Goran: My name is Goran Osredečki and along with my girlfriend (Nikolina Kuhar) we operate biggest hostel in Zagreb – just 1 minute from Zagreb’s main square [Chill Out Hostel]. We have around 20-25 people working thoughout the year, all young team of professionals in finance, sales & experience in traveling with large accent on innovations. Almost every member of our staff is from different parts of Croatia. We also get big support from our volunteers who come from all around the world. All of this makes a prefect culture mixture that is pushing the limits every day in form of fun, content & experience for our guests.

chill out hostel 2

TH: How would you describe a regular day of your life – what you do, what problems you have… what’s it like being a hostel owner?

G: Very dynamic & intensive…You never now what to expect in the morning when you wake up and come to work. Large scale of different cultures sleeping together can be challenging from time to time.

TH: What about these different cultures? How are they like?

G: Englishman do know how to drink and make clowns of themselves, Dutchmen do know how to get along with everybody and have fun at the same time, Frenchmen want to improve everything, Germans feel like at home (bilingual staff – most of them speak German), & Americans who are cool all the time.

All kinds of different people visit us so the situations (problems) are very different. Someone has a problem with a hair dryer, other ones want a tanning salon, and the others couldn’t get any sleep due to roommates that are making noise in shared dorms. Most problems are fun because you can solve them easily. On the other hand every guest thinks how only his problem is the biggest one. But real problems are within the staff relations, honoring government laws and group demands which can be really a challenge to fulfill. Disadvantages are working hours that can spread throughout hole day, and day can become a week, and then you realize that you haven’t been on vacation for more than a year. Its ease to get lost in time if you have a job that you love. Group negotiations can also be a drag, but not always.

TH: What makes a hostel a hostel – different from a hotel or any other type of traditional accommodation? Is it the spirit/concept, or just  because it’s cheaper?

chill out hostel

G: Friendly atmosphere, open minded people ready to meet new people, services and tailored made content/services/games which bring people together along with exploring our city culture. I don’t think that cheap prices really have an influence on guests that come to a hostel. Most of them can afford a hotel, but they want to spend little money on accommodation in which they will be for a few hours. They want to spend their money on exploring and experiencing some other personal interest like food, museums, national parks, clothes, booze…Even Some of the hotel guests are coming to chillout so they can meet somebody new, relax and don’t have to bother about their appearance or opinion of others.

TH: What’s it like in Zagreb? Do people generally go to hostels or hotels?

G: In Zagreb & Croatia in general most of the people go to hotels because the hostel market  is really young and not that developed – speaking in the form of marketing. The design of most hostels is on top level (higher than average if we look at most European capital cities). The number of hostels increases every year along with their share in total number of guests that visit Zagreb. Hopefully in the near future they will present a significant part of our tourism and will support some other values in life than material ones (money & luxury). I think people want attention, they want to share their stories, hear some other experiences and enjoy life on different level.

Medvedgrad, one of the recommended places to visit.

Medvedgrad, one of the recommended places to visit. Below the main tower of the castle is Oltar Domovine (Altar of the homeland) which is dedicated to the fallen Croatian soldiers in the Croatian War of Independence.

TH: Whenever you go to a new city, you always find out some things only after you get there – no matter how much you try to prepare yourself in advance. Could you tell us your best insider tips for anyone who comes and visits the city?

G: Be sure to take minimum of three days stay in Zagreb! I would definitely suggest visiting Altar of the Homeland on Medvednica hill/mountain, Jarun & Bundek lake (can take a swim or play outdoor sports), Maksimir Park & Zoo, Mirogoj Cemetery, museums (especially the museum of broken relationships), Hrelić market on Sunday and similar city  attractions.

Bundek Lake, in Zagreb, Croatia.

Bundek Lake, in Zagreb, Croatia.

People In Zagreb and Croatia are not very punctual so don’t expect that the train, plane, bus or tram will arrive on time 😀 We have all 4 weather seasons and most of the land part is during winter and spring (festivals, open cultural & sport events). During spring and fall you can really enjoy the coast line with more than 1000 islands.

TH: Tell us about your extreme experiences – the people you meet, the best and worst experience. What is it that you learned, do you happen to have any advice for travelers or for other hostel managers based on your experiences?

G: We have met the most friendly people and the most vicious ones. Best experience are with the people you can help on the personal level (ingury solutions, trip planning with our partners and discounts on services that they can use in Croatia, people bringing presents to our staff because they make their day or the whole stay…). The angry ones do put a lot of pressure on the whole team and we try to make it right, but sometimes you lose a lot of energy doing that. Sometimes they ask for something that don’t really have a right for (sometinems even use blackmail – bad review – if we don’t please their demands) like free parking space, sometimes they just run and don’t pay, rarely they horrass other guests, not respect house rules and similar. But in general 99,9% of our guests are the ones we would be more than happy to welcome again.

TH: Wow, using bad reviews as blackmail… that’s new. Personal reviews seem to be so powerful nowadays; some of our other hostel friends told us that fake reviews are also a thing, have you had any experience with that?

G: In general we don’t have bad expeirances from reviews, but in I think that they are not a genuine fact of somebody’s stay. On our example you can see that in the same day you can find reviews from 70% to 100% and sometimes people that stayed in the same room (we have 37 of them) leave them in this spread. So this is only a individual point of view that can be influenced by numerous reasons not only depending on the hostel.

Our opinion is that people can leave a review but the percentage & rating calculation is totally unnecessary and misleading. Also the total number of reviews vary form hostel to hostel so I cannot understand the whole idea that wanted to be achieved through this method of communicating with the people that haven’t yet been in the target hostel or destination. On the other hand, pictures are the most important part of decision, and yet everybody has the most beautiful pictures of the hostel on the opening day. If sites that offer booking would not be so money oriented (pushing the hostels who pay the most in front places instead of quality), for me the best way would be visiting their clients and making recommendations or hostel descriptions based on published rules or conditions without the possibility of misleading photos or reviews or higher listed places. They would keep their power on the market but they would get more quality for their guests and influence the market standards of hostels that are listed on their sites.

TH: That’s a very interesting point of view, I agree with it myself. I dislike the general trend we see with today’s major hostel bookers. This is kind of the reason why we have started Travel Hostel – to give a different perspective, that’s not based on the financial aspect. But enough about that – what do you like to do on vacation and why?

Relax and try out new sports depending on the destination. Surfing, diving, free climbing, paragliding…Also I like to visit local national pars or other historic cultural sights. Best is when you have a local friend to give you some genuine suggestions or advices. In general I like to meet the people in a new destination and explore they way of living. I love to travel because numerous things happen on the trip that you wouldn’t have a chance to experience at home.

OK Goran, it’s been a great experience! Thank you so much for sharing these insights with us, we hope you have a terrific Summer and… see you soon! 🙂

Hostel Review: Gracia City Hostel [Barcelona, Spain]

Hostel name: Gracia City Hostel
Hostel Homepage
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Barcelona is the first city I’ve ever visited outside of my country, and it’s hands down one of the most beautiful cities in the world; going there is always a special experience for me, which is why I always want to stay at a special hostel. This time, I chose Gracia City Hostel.

Location

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I found the location of the hostel quite good. It’s close to the center of the city, in a quiet and nice area, and you only have some 7 minutes of walking from the subway (metro station: Diagonal). It’s not exactly in walking distance from the Ramblas or the Bari Gothic, so if you want to hang out there in the night, you might want to check out some night buses (there are a couple), or return while the subway/bus is still working (about 23:00). However, if you want some peace and quiet, without the fuss of downtown Barcelona, the location is perfect.

I was walking at night near the hostel, and it seemed pretty safe to me. The building is in a small street which seems a little strange, but I didn’t see anything to make me anxious.

The Accommodation

The sleeping conditions were really good. Clean, fluffy beds, big pillows, thick blankets if you’re feeling cold, all is good. If the hostel is full, a little line might form at the bathroom, but that goes for most hostels I’ve been to, it’s not really a problem.

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The lounge is at the basement, but that’s the only downside to it (the lack of windows) – it looks really good! I loved the bean bags, which are always comfortable after a day of walking in the city. They also have a nice table, a couch, a TV, games which you can play; all in all, everything you could want in a hostel lounge. Everything looks brand new, is clean, and is very enjoyable.

But for me, the best thing was in the next room – the kitchen. I feel like this is one of the most underrated aspects of any hostel: having a kitchen is amazing! Not only do you save time and money, but you get a lot of freedom – the freedom to just pick up whatever you want from a supermarket and make it there. Personally, I really love hanging out in the kitchen, making some light food, after a full day of urban exploration; even just a tea or coffee in the morning can work wonders. All the facilities are there, including some pots and some basic food you can take (rice, sugar, tea, etc). Really loved the kitchen.

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The only thing I found a little strange (though understandable) was that the light goes out at 1AM, for environmental purposes. However, you do have a bed light on every bed, so it’s still possible to read or browse the internet even after that.

The wifi works pretty well, and they also have 2 computers which you can use.

The price was 12 euros (16 dollars) for a night in the common room when I booked it. It’s not the cheapest hostel in Barcelona, but it’s definitely one of the cheapest – and for the conditions they offer, I’d say that it’s more than acceptable.

The staff

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The staff was really great, quite pleasant to talk to, answering any questions I had, no problem. You can read an interview with Luis, the hostel’s manager, here. He’s a really nice guy, with lots of good insights, so I really recommend reading the interview if you plan on going to Barcelona.

What was interesting about the staff is that they are international. There are two girls from Russia and one from Slovenia, the manager is Mexican, and the cleaning man is a local Catalan – he didn’t speak much English, but he was really fun, and he sings pretty well.

Conclusion

So, a nice chill out location, close to a subway station, nice conditions, low price, friendly people – I enjoyed my stay at Gracia City Hostel in Barcelona a lot. I’d definitely recommend it to other travelers.

Interview with Hostel manager: Luis from Gracia City Hostel, Barcelona

Barcelona is the first city I’ve ever visited outside of my country, so going back there is always a special event for me. Everytime I’ve went there I’ve met vibrant, fascinating people, and this time was no exception. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to sit down for a cup of nice warm tea and a good chat with Luis – the manager at the Gracia City Hostel.

Luis is a Rastaman from Mexico. He’s also worked in several other places in Spain before he settled down in Barcelona, falling in love with the city’s artistic character. He plays in his own band (he promised to send us a CD, but still hasn’t, ntz ntz), he’s a vegan, and all around a very cool, interesting guy. Here are the most interesting parts of the chat I had with him.

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How did you settle down in Barcelona?

I came to Barcelona because life brought me to Barcelona. I started traveling in Switzerland, and then London, and then I went to Mallorca. I worked in a club, raised some money, and then travelled to Barcelona – I loved it the first time I came here. The parties, the artists in the streets… I just wanted to come and live here!

Clearly you made a good decision! I love this artsy city as well – it’s just fantastic! What about the hostel – how did you come to manage it?

It’s been 5 years since I came here – and I’ve worked in clubs, in a Mexican restaurant, as a waiter, in construction, many things… and finally I came to work in the hostel, initially like a worker, and then I was promoted. It’s not a big hostel, but it’s a big responsibility, lots of things to take care of, but I like it. I wanted a challenge, because I was a little bored.

This is definitely not your average job… what’s a work day like in your life?

Now I am still living in the hostel, but I will move out in a few days. First thing I check to see if everything is alright, and then I go to the reception, talk to our guests, see if they are happy, if they slept well, if there’s anything wrong.

Is it hard sometimes, like if you have a bad day or you’re tired, to take care of everything and have a positive impact?

No, not really. When you are in the reception, you are the face and the customer doesn’t want to hear the full of your problems – and he’s right. It’s not hard for me because I don’t stress, and I try to learn from everything, and separate the good things from the bad. It’s more difficult for me because sometimes I am tired, and the people, they see this right away.

So tell us a bit about your staff – I noticed they’re international.

Yes, now we have 2 Russian girls, one from Slovenia, the cleaning man is Catalan, because we need one local… so there’s a big difference in culture.

Is it full time, part time employees, how do you manage the staff?

Most of them are students, some doing internships. Sometimes they don’t want this responsibility, but hey, I put this responsibility on them, especially when I have to leave, because hey – I have my life too. We work together and help each other. You make mistakes, it’s not a problem, everyone makes mistakes. It’s important not to repeat them.

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The living room of the Gracia City Hostel. Quite a neat place – loved the bean bags.

Hey, that’s a really good story. I think this is what separates the hostel from other forms of accomodation, right? This kind of getting along on common sense… I don’t think it would ever happen in a hotel.

Yeah, that’s right.

So what do you think makes hostels different than hotels or resorts ?

The people working there [hotels]… they are soldiers. Hello, bam-bam-bam, goodbye. There’s not a lot of interaction. When the people go to a hostel, they want to have a home in the room. Some hostels are also big, and they don’t have this atmosphere. But here [Gracia City Hostel] and other small hostels, we try to have a very friendly family hostel. When the people come here, they meet each other and us, and I really like this thing. The people get happy, they talk and they have fun. This is what we try to do here, create that atmosphere.

Well, I think you managed to do that.

Thanks! It’s not always like this. I notice that every month, for a few days, the atmosphere is strange. The vibes are strange, there are some people who don’t like to talk too much, or they complain a lot… strange day, different vibes. Some people just want to have a place to sleep, and that’s perfectly fine too.

What clients are the most difficult for you?

The Russians [laughs a lot]. Usually, the people who want other type of accommodations. They usually go to the hotel, they see the cheaper price for the hostel, and they come here. But they don’t read what the hostel is – when you book a hostel, you should read: usually, shared bathroom, mixed dorms, all this.

So usually people coming to a hostel for the first time?

Yes, exactly. People come and say “There’s not a shower in my room”. Well, what did you book, man? But most of the time, people who are coming for the first time have a great experience, they’re always saying “Wow, what a great thing, I loved this experience, and blabla” [laughs again].

Is it a lot of Spanish people, or just international tourists that come to you?

Mmm, recently, for 1-2 years, it’s a lot more people from Spain. Before, they didn’t travel a lot, and if they did, they stayed at a hotel or something, but now, they start to come here more and more.

Is it younger or older people?

Usually young, but we also get older people. Like one time, we had a group of 7 old women. Old, old women, man, 60-70 maybe 80 years; and they don’t want to sleep in a mixed dorm. They come to me saying “There’s a man in my room!” – so I told them “But you booked a mixed dorm!”, “But I don’t want to sleep with a man in my room!”. [laughs]

It’s not about the age – the hostel is a place for people with young spirits. It doesn’t matter if you’re old, if your spirit is young! We had some old Polish people, traveling all of Spain on bikes – not speaking Spanish, not speaking English.

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Wow, that’s really amazing!

Yes, they really knew how to enjoy life; sometimes the communication is just with the hands.

Would you say that Barcelona is a hostel friendly city?

Phew, now, yes it is, my friend. But one year ago, there were only few hostels. Now, people see that a lot of tourists come, so many hostels open – and many fake hostels too.

Fake hostels, what do you mean?

They trick people to book something, they look for it, but the place doesn’t exist. Or they book one thing, and they go to an apartment with some bunk beds, there is no reception, you go to another apartment to find the people, it’s not like it says on the website… it’s very strange.

Wow, I didn’t really know about that! It sounds like a really big problem; how can people protect themselves from such scams – how do you know if it’s a phantom hostel?

I think it’s pretty difficult to know in advance.

Maybe look on some reviews on the internet?

The thing is, these places, they have reviews.

Fake reviews?

Yep. Barcelona is a fake review city! A lot of people do this – hostels, hotels. There are people who work especially in this [writing fake reviews].

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Gee, that’s definitely not something I was expecting to hear. But this is part of why we developed Travel Hostel – we want to write good, accurate reviews. We’re not the best, and we don’t have so much experience as other travel writers who’ve been doing this for 20 years or something, but we write honest reviews [and information], which people can rely on – so thank you for this opportunity [to review Gracia City Hostel].

No man, thank you! It’s really good you’re doing this.

[Ok, I’ll admit, we had a hi-five moment after this one]

The good news is, that many hostels in Barcelona are going to close – only the good ones are going to stay. The hostels which have all the things good, and prepared, they gonna stay. The other hostels, they gonna be closed – a big inspection is coming. We had lots of problems passing the initial inspections, we had to work for 2 years to get the license! Just in February [2 months before] we finished the work, but it’s worth it. Now there’s a big difference, and everything is falling into place.

I know there’s a lot of work behind the scenes at a hostel – and most people don’t see this, they just see the end result. Do you sometimes feel like they’re not appreciating the work enough?

Maybe a little bit. As I said, we try to make a real home thing. This means that if you use something from our kitchen, you have to clean it. If you make a mess, you have to clean it. Some people are not used to this, they want to be tourists and see as much as possible without working but… help us a little bit man! This is how it works, just clean the things you use – it’s only 2 minutes!

Ok, what were your best and worst experiences as a hostel manager?

My favorite experience is when people are happy – when they take a part of the hostel back home, and when they leave something from themselves in the hostel.

Oh, one week ago, a group of 40 (!) children stayed with us. They were very nice, it was their first time at a hostel – and when they left, they were crying! This was the best feeling for me.

The worst experience is when people steal things. When I hear that… I’m like “Ooooohh maaaan” 🙁 I give the report and the camera footage to the police, but that is the best I can do. But thanks to our videos, we caught 3 thieves out of 4.

That really sucks. Do people really do this? Like the guests, do they steal sometimes?

Very rarely… but sometimes they do. I advise people to use the locker at all times. But these people who steal, they don’t have souls – they’re like rats. They’re never gonna be happy, even if they have lots of things – they don’t really have nothing.

That’s a really interesting way of looking at it – and a really positive one I think.

Yep. When you are at a hostel, you are like a psychologist. You ensure the people have a good time, you try to help them when they have a bad time, you need to always be with them and listen to them.

When I travel to some place, I always try to look it up as much as possible and see what I can do and see… but when I get there, there are always things which pop up, things which I only find out after I’m there. Like in Barcelona, nobody told me about horchata [a drink from a palm tree]. It’s only in Spain (at least I haven’t seen it anywhere else), and nobody told me about it. What are some things like this in Barcelona, some hidden gems?

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Spanish churros – something you really have to try out.

In Barcelona there are so many local concerts – and it’s not very touristic, even though it’s really good. For example, every Tuesday there’s a reggae jam session – locals love it, but the tourists, they don’t know about it. Also, the beaches; the best beaches are outside the city! Barceloneta is full of tourists, the sand is not real (it’s from construction rock), but the beaches outside the Barcelona are much better – my favorite is Waikiki beach. For the food, it’s the churros [a sausage-like Spanish doughnut]. Oh, and the typical streets – the small streets, the typical neighborhoods… I think this is pretty much it.

But how can you find about the concerts? They’re not in touristic guides.

You have to ask the locals. The locals know these things, you ask them – you can find lots of cool stuff like this.

That’s really good insight, man. If I knew this the first time I visited … phew! So, how much would you estimate the average 7 day trip to Barcelona?

Hmm… almost 300 euros ($400) if you don’t want to party. If you want to party… it’s expensive here. But you can get a beer here even for 1 euro, from the men in the streets.

What about you, where do you like to go on vacation?

Uhm, wherever life takes me. I go where I feel that I can go, you know? Last time, I went to Morocco in February… and I don’t know where I’ll go next time. I just decide in the last minute, and this is good for me. The desert, the dunes… was fantastic for me. I am a simple man, I don’t need much.

That’s the hostel way of life, in a way.

Yep, that’s all you need. A good bed to sleep, a bathroom, a safe place for your things, now WiFi, and if you have a kitchen, that’s all you need. For the other things, you do the rest.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Mmm, just one thing: people in the hostel business are passionate people, usually with a very good heart. We are psychologists, and we try to help people – if you travel a lot, you need somebody to talk and share experience, good or bad. You need to open your heart, and we are here to help you do that – sometimes we do it good, sometimes maybe not so good, but we always try.

I love this idea! Awesome approach!

Just chillin' out with Luis!

Just chillin’ out with Luis!

Again, many thanks to Luis and the rest of the staff at Gracia City Hostel, which were really awesome while we stayed there. Stay tuned for a hostel review soon!

 

Amazing hostels in Third World Countries

Even if you plan on making a trip that’s truly and literally off the beaten path, the odds are third world countries don’t pop up on top of the list. I’m not going to argue how culturally challenging they are (it’s more of a truism in fact), instead I’m going to show you some options that will both make you feel like you’re at a first world country’s hostel and give you the cultural experience you should be so eager to have.

1. Victoria Falls Backpackers. Facebook page.

Victoria Falls Backpackers is the best way to spend time in Zimbabwe. While the country’s pretty far from being on top of the popular destinations, this hostel really matches even the highest standards for any backpacker out there. You can arrange taxis and airport pick-ups if you decide to book in advance, and the facilities are really impressive (for anywhere in the world). From the platform you’ll see Mosi-Oa-Tunya (thunder smoke). You can then relax in the swimming pool or go to the adventure center, where there’s plenty of activities waiting to give you the best Zimbabwean adrenaline rush – from riding elephants to jumping off the bridge, there’s really not much that you cannot do here.

1The nightly fire’s going to make you wish you would have taken a couple of more days off, the self catering kitchen is not only spotless, but well equipped as well. As for the standard facilities that you usually find in hostels, they’re all at your service! Linen is provided, as well as laundry service, the hostel has a huge and very friendly lounge area, mosquito nets, bush café. The garden’s also truly stunning and well preserved, and the place is also children friendly, which means that a family trip would be just perfect in here!

The greatest advantage of the position of this hostel is being next to the national park that makes this country so famous, where you’d really like to spend a day or two wondering at things while roaming around the amazing raw beauty of this well kept reservation. Although it’s a little far from the capital city, it’s amazing how peaceful and silent everything is here – it’s the best time of your life, especially if you’re usually busy and not able to travel as much as you’d love to. Relaxing is the major concern of your host and when you’re back home all your batteries will have been recharged!

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2. Shemariah Guesthouse. Facebook page (inactive).

It may not be on top of the most popular hostels in the world, but it’s certainly one of the best in South Africa. It is, once more, unnecessary to argue the reasons for which you should visit this country, but what you’re about to find out instead is that the price is really attractive compared to most of the hostels or B&B’s you’ll find during your trips. Sipping your classy glass of wine in the gardens of the place is one of the most comforting things to do after a long day of visiting all kinds of touristic attractions, not to mention the marvel of the beautifully colored African birds.

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The breakfast’s included, the rooms are colorful, vividly arranged in order to give you as much energy to start your day with, and there’s not a single thing that should be changed or improved to make the whole place better. Truly fitting in the description of a home away from home, there’s something about this place, about its cleanliness and coziness that makes you feel less like a stranger when you’re probably not even on your continent anymore.

In case you’re not here by car, the hostel’s near Gautrain, the best national company to offer you travel services at good prices, so that you can enjoy your trip even better. This country’s one of the places where you should have no restrictions when visiting – there are lots of things to be discovered, especially culture-wise.

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3. Pakachere Backpackers and Creative Center in Malawi. Facebook Page.

This is not a place we recommend because of the conditions compared to the expectations of a third world state, but because it’s really fun to come here for anyone who’s creative! People here gather to talk about all kinds of stuff that make them forget about the daily issues they have to deal with, they sometimes paint or sing or simply have all kinds of fun and wicked conversations you wouldn’t miss for the world. You can barbecue here, make a camp fire and get to know the amazingly friendly people that are going to be eager to find things about you.

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What’s impressive is that the locals will never bother you with their questions and curiosities, even though they’ve got plenty! They’re creative, but fun and most of all – they’re polite and they would do anything to make you feel like home. You can go to the cyber-bar whenever you wish and keep in touch this way with your family and friends while you’re on the road, and – most importantly – you’ll make friends here! You’ll also be offered trips to Zomba with a local guide, but if you’re sociable enough there may be more than one companion with you everyday!

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World’s most unusual and magnificent hostels

 

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There are lots of amazing hostels that you should be visiting and we’re assuming that since you’ve chosen hostels as accommodation you’re not the most typical kind of tourist – you want something special. This is why we’ve come up with a list of the most amazing hostels that truly stand out, be it thanks to their uniqueness in the concept, location or execution. We really hope that in your further trips you’ll take them into consideration, it’s worth having such a special experience while also traveling.

And if you’re a little suspicious about hostels in general and you think that in most of them it’s impossible to shower or have a good time, drink a nice cup of coffee in the morning, here’s what breaks the stereotypes.

In Costa Rica, Hotel Costa Verde Fuselage 727 is by far one of the most trippy hostels you’ll ever find in your trips, the place where you’ll feel very close to the sky not just because of the high altitude, but because it’s made from a former plane.

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It’s literally rising from the jungle canopy and it’s going to be the most amazing flying experience – staying in a plane without all the problems that flights can make you go through! Imagine that, it would be just like constantly traveling while having a great time and admiring the most stunning landscape. The vintage 1965 plane is where you’ll most likely love to book accommodation, although it may seem like you’ve saved some transport seats at first. But we’re sure you’ll get used to it pretty soon!

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You don’t have to have a BA in geology to love this amazing hostel in Turkey. In Cappadocia, Goreme you’ll see the most magnificent cave dwellings that are so unique in this place so famous for the traditional rock cut features. The historical cave dwellings now offer you a place to stay in one of the most distinctive places of its kind. We’re pretty sure it’s different from anything you might have seen during your travels and if you happen to have plans of visiting Italy, missing it would be a true shame.

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The rustic décor and the way the rock cut house was transformed by the family who owns the place into a cave house make it truly spectacular, not to mention the magnificent views you’ve got not only inside the rooms but one the landscapes of Goreme village center, Rose Valley as well.

And since we’re willing to try all kinds of experiences, a great choice would be the Monastery Hostel in Milan, Italy – this place is going to make your trip to Italy last longer, but I don’t think you’ll have any problem with trying other kinds of pasta for another couple of days. Not only the unusual setting, but the breathtaking architecture makes it unique and beautiful. All the flowers and trees in the interior garden give it a heavenly look. It’s not quite a party hostel, but it’s clearly one of the perfect accommodation offers in Italy where to go if what you’re looking for is some peace and silence away from the city rush.

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Langholmen, Sweden is right in the middle of Stockholm, and if you’ve ever wondered how it would be like to be a prisoner, this is the perfect way to answer your inner questions – without actually having to make crimes and go through trials. This old remand prison was in function from 1840 to 1975 and it’s now offering the tourists the possibility to experience convicts’ life. With Wi-Fi. Plus, your criminal record will still be free.

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The 2-4 bed cells are not as unfriendly as they used to be, now you’ll have comfortable mattresses and the chance to have a nice breakfast and a cup of coffee in the morning while admiring the surroundings. The best part is that it’s right in the center of the capital city so you won’t have to give any of the other touristic pleasures up.

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Carbisdale Castle Youth Hostel is another very special place that you’ll have to see with your own eyes one day. It’s not necessary to have dreamed of all your childhood to marry Prince William and have sworn to envy Kate Middleton for life to put ‘sleeping in a castle’ on your bucket list. And not only are we encouraging this type of attitude, progressive and nonconformist, but we’re also offering you a solution to this day dreaming. This lovely castle has served as royal refuge during history and its guest have been strong, powerful and influential. You’ll experience the beauty of nicely carved statues and the majesty of paintings and very thick walls, but you’ll also wander around and admire the stunning raw beauty of Scottish nature. Long walks in the woodland and around the rivers in the forests are going to form the most impressive and genuine medieval setting, the most romantic setting to sink in history and culture and to let yourself internalize all the peace and well-being.

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If you’re a nature lover, tree houses must have been the dreams of your entire childhood, along with the vivid wish to someday receive your admission letter to Hogwarts. And while about the second wish we’re not sure, if you ever head to Olympos, Turkey, the tree house is Kadir’s tree House and the most beautiful hostel in the entire country. If you ask them how they decided to build it, the hosts will tell you that they wanted you to live your childhood dream. This place is born from that vivid wish of your that kept coming back until you grew up. There are some bungalows closer to the ground, but especially if you’re traveling with your children, you should really sleep up a tree.

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Palais Bulles are right next to Cannes and are going to transform your Euro-trip into something magnificent that you’ll be remembering forever. It was designed for the very popular designer Pierre Cardin, and since vanguard was his huge passion, you can only imagine the astounding scenery and the very special location. The sight is unbelievable and the panorama allows you to watch over the Mediterranean Sea and the red cliffs of the Esteral. Its inspiration are the caves and cave dwellings and the 28 round rooms look like a playful design of a stunning surrealistic painting.

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Railway Square in Central Station, Sydney is where you can sleep inside a railway carriage on what used to be Platform Zero. The experience is not only unique, but also very comfortable because of the unusual location. You’ll find the friendliest people here and amazingly good conditions for your trip.

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Practical tips to have sex in a hostel

Regardless if you’ve come on a vacation backpacking with your significant other or you just found someone interesting to have a couple of drinks (that are never literally just a couple of drinks) with, there’s a practical problem every backpacker has encountered at least once: where to have sex? Unless you’re one of those guys for whom company in a 12-beds room doesn’t represent a problem, you’ll have to be creative and here are some tips (and places!).

Of course, asking for a private place where to do it in a hostel is not really a very smart idea (unless, of course, you’re hooking up with a member of the staff and they’ll certainly come with a solution), but all you have to do is know where to look.

The first and most common possibility is the laundry room, especially at night when there are little or no chances for anyone to interrupt your acts of passion, but you’ll still have to be careful with the noises. Of course, if it’s mid day but there aren’t too many people ‘at home’, you can try this solution during daytime, but it’s not very wise since you can never know if the hostel’s populated or not.

The bathroom’s the second best location, although maybe not the most romantic. But then again, when you’re in such a hurry, who’s got time for romance? The shower’s the most popular place where you can have sex, especially since nobody’s going to blame you for being in the bathroom. Except for mornings, when people would need to brush their teeth and it’s commonly known that you should also take a short shower. At night, it’s not very intelligent to do it in the bathroom unless there’s a noisy party going on – people are going to hear everything, especially since during the night hostels are generally silent (again, except for the crazy party hostels). Also, speaking of times when it’s really a bad timing for sex, evenigs win this one. Sex in the evening is just nuts, people come home from wherever they’ve been and the hostel looks like a swarm. Don’t be silly!

 

A more romantic place is the roof, and it also offers you quite a lot of adrenaline rush (if you’re a fan, and you should be, if you’re gonna have sex here!). Some hostels have accessible roofs and even though they didn’t turn them into a bar where people can drink their coffee in the morning admiring the surroundings, you can go here. Of course, not quite for admiring the surroundings, but here’s where you can get this done.

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The only place where you clearly shouldn’t have sex while staying at a hostel is the kitchen. It’s really disturbing and disgusting, not to mention that the chances to get caught are pretty high as well. There are lots of people who simply can’t imagine their lives without a midnight snack, so don’t even think of having sex in the kitchen. Plus, you may be wanting to eat your breakfast without thinking of your latest crush. Another don’t, a huge one, is the top bunk. Firstly because it’s not really comfortable to get there and secondly because you’ll shake the bed and it’s not even necessary for someone to be there, because the entire room’s going to hear. Not to mention that if the beds are wooden the noise is going to be even greater.

Don’t forget that you can leave the premises! And not too far, the courtyard (if the hostel’s got something like this) is one of the best places to have sex. But clearly not during winter! Otherwise, nothing can stop you, sky’s the limit!

 

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Who stays at hostels? A short review of what to search for

Suppose you’ve already packed for a destination where you’re about to visit. Suppose you’re not traveling alone, you’re going with your significant other, family, friends or just coworkers. There are lots of people who don’t opt for hostels because they start from the premises that the only people they’ll find here are students. And it’s not entirely wrong, because this is how hostels became popular in the first place. On the other hand, this perspective is not necessarily true either.

There are all kinds of hostels popular for being family-friendly or partying-friendly or whatever-you-need-friendly. All you have to do is some research before actually booking a place in case you’re traveling on a budget or you simply want to visit the world like a traveler, not like a usual tourist. The chances for you to magically go to the type of hostel you’d like to stay at without reading something about it at first are quite small, unfortunately. This is why you should first look for location and then see the reviews from people who’ve already been there in order to make the right decision.

However, after you’ve done some online documentation, all you have to do is book the hostel. Just in case, we’ve made a list with the most probable kinds of people you’ll be seeing in hostel.

 

First of all, it’s the party animals – the ones who don’t travel for the touristic attractions, but for the social networking, the people, the culture, the fun. They’re the kind of people who want to have fun like all the natives from all the states and places they’ve visited. If you’re lucky enough to catch them sober, you’ll see they’re very friendly people and you’ll be surprised how educated they are, even though the stereotype says they’ve never followed any serious academic assessments. Of course, it may be not the solid general culture that will amaze you, but the amazing experiences they’ve had all over the world, the stunning places they’ve seen between hangovers and the awesome people they’ve met. And if you’re cool enough, they may even end up talking about you in their future trips, who knows? They’re always prepared with tons of alcohol and they make friends in the morning while they’re still drunk to have some new company for the night. It’s not a rule, but in the popular hostels for partying they’re the last ones to leave the premises and the first ones to raise their glasses in the air every other night. If they’re really interested in you and you seem to be quite a distinct character they may even join you to visit all the attractions as soon as you’ll invite them.

 

Then, it’s the couples. Usually young ones and not very sociable, they either spend their time exclusively together or you’ll barely see them – leaving in the morning and arriving after midnight. Of course, the older couples who’ve started the trip just to socialize and meet new awesome people are a little more friendly and – surprisingly enough – they don’t prefer couples necessarily when socializing, so telling them to join your party or play some board games in the late evening after dining someplace nice would sound like a great idea for both parts. Depending on the kind of couple, some of them prefer to stay at family hostels, where there’s no one to disturb their romantic time together and everybody will treat them like a family – they’re going to be one someday soon after all, right?

 

As about the families, they’re almost never seen at the party hostels and it’s only normal like this. All they want is spend some relaxing time together away from their everyday life full of new job assignments and grown-up problems. As a rule, they’re more polite than eager to socialize and meet new people, the purpose of their trip is far from meeting new interesting people. However, if it happens, they’re going to be nice, spend some time with you, and treat you like you’re one of their own. Once you get to be friends with them there are really good chances to keep in touch even after you’re back home. Again, if you’re nice enough and not too pushy (they hate this, but – hey – who doesn’t?) you may even end up planning some trips together in the future (mostly during the holidays, they don’t have too much free time to enjoy roaming around.

Taking your kids on a trip with you and staying at a hostel is another good idea – especially since there are lots of other people doing this too. And if you’re not with a large group of friends (who may even have their kids with them as well) making friends with other families who’ve brought their children on holiday is a great idea. Your kid is also allowed to have fun, so don’t be too selfish before denying him any kind of socialization with other families.

 

The students are not the first category of people who choose hostels as accommodation, but they’re pretty attached to this kind of life on the road. There are many types of students as well: the ones who came to other country for a scholarship for instance tend to be more serious, choose a hostel where to stay during their entire semester (or period of study) and keep themselves busy with school-related problems. You’ll see them partying, but mostly on weekends and during the holidays if they haven’t returned at home to see their families. And there are the students who are either dropouts or have decided to interrupt their education for a year or two in order to visit the world, get to know people and cultures and gain some useful life experience. Of course, some of them are the party animals we were talking about in the first paragraphs. But not necessarily, others you may see always keeping a book on their shelf (another one every day), or carrying their guitar wherever, some bohemian, others just hipsters, but pretty different from the party animals. The distinction is easy to make – these ones are more preoccupied to see places and get to have some interesting conversations rather than just get drunker than the previous night.

 

And, of course, there are the full grown-ups. People who were sent on delegation to work from another place and find hotels impersonal or just can’t afford one often decide to stay at a hostel. Of course, they’ll carefully choose the most calm and comfortable option, the most silent of the places (even though it’s not in the center of the city – this way it’s cheaper as well!). Quiet places are what they look for most of the times and if there’s one category they best fit with, it’s clearly the family hostels! Because they’re away from their families and friends for a long period of time, they often get to be friends with the receptionists and other people from the staff who will soon enough treat him as family more than just another tourist. If you’re looking for a nice place where you can enjoy the sunrise and sunset on a balcony or terrace drinking your coffee while planning what more there is to visit, the kind of hostel you’re looking for is the one in which the full grown up on a delegation would choose. And searching for some reviews online is not that hard to do, especially if you can’t afford (because of either time or money) more than one or two trips per year (and sometimes not even that). If you’re generally stressed out or very tired, accommodation should matter a lot more than if you’re just casual about your every trip.

Don’t forget to book in advance so that your research will not have been in vain!

 

The ABC of hosteling in Europe. What kinds of hostels are there?

There are plenty of hostels in Europe and, wherever you’d like to go, so many places to choose from in case you’re looking for accommodation. First things first, hostels are usually safe to stay at, and they’re fun. Depending on their reputation, they’re not necessarily party hostels either, this making all the myths keeping you from booking a hostel invalid. And yes, I said booking a hostel instead of just finding one ad-hoc at your destination, because this way you’ll know for sure you won’t sleep under the clear sky, especially in peak season.

With less than €30 you can find accommodation in the most expensive cities of Europe, on the most central of geographical positions. Very close to the old town and all the fancy shops and touristic attractions you’ll find cheap beds to sleep in, friendly people to have breakfast with and nice hosts to guid you through the beauty of their cities. However, there are some things that you should take into consideration once you’ve decided to stay at a hostel during your travel.

Of course, hosteling’s more of a philosophy than is a practical business, which means you’ll always find pros and cons regardless of what you think of people’s experiences from their trip.

 

There are official and independent hostels. The official hostels in Europe are part of the larger organization called Hosteling International and all the hostels on the web are found at hihostels.com where people can book room in advance. As about booking a room, it’s really useful to do it online, because it’s safe to know where you’ve been not based on the advertisments and testimonials on the official sites, but on customer review. People can review the many characteristics and criteria that we take into consideration when booking a hostel and, from our experience, anything under 75% as a general rating is not a suitable place to opt for. On the site, you can create trip books, submit reviews and suggestions and – of course – choose the best price and place for your stay.

Another reason why these hostels are really recommended for all kinds of travelers, not only the ones on budget because of the obvious financial reasons is the fact that being unde ra larger organization, the chances that you’ll find anything highly inconvenient, illegal or unpleasant are small. Trustworthiness is the main reason why people come back again for their hostels. Also,there are all kinds of offers and discounts for the HI members who are passionate travelers and keep roaming around Europe. If you spend at least 6 nights at hostels, the best thing to do is buy such a card that’s available for a year and whose availability can be extended, but if you’re staying at a HI hostel and you don’t have a member card you’d better prepare to pay an extra €4 to 5, depending on the period that you’re spending.

 

Of course, there are lots of independent hostels as well. Especially if you’re a bohemian traveler, you like the things done customed according to your needs and wishes, you’d love these. The independent hostels are the kind of colorful, nicely designed, highly technologized places that you’d love if you’re a nonconformist. The only price you’ll have to pay in terms of accommodation that can make the difference is the fact that their organization may not be as better developed and there’s no guarantee for the staff. If you’re traveling for the people, the classical travelers you’ll find in the HI web members, since they’re used to going throughout Europe all year long they do need some places to stay to which they can be faithful. Otherwise, if you’re only looking for some fun while getting to also see some culturally interesting attractions, you can opt for the independent hostels, where you’ll certainly find all kinds of tourists always ready to party harder than the night before and make even more friends. And, fo course, there are the top class hostels, the super premium ones where people go to enjoy the same atmosphere as there’s in a hotel, just spending less money.

And, why not, if your trip’s longer and you’re not only going for one city in your trip, you can opt for a mix combination of both Hostelling International partners and independent hostels. Most of the people do this, at least for the first few times, to decide which they like best. Letsgo.com is the perfect site for you if you’re this kind of traveler. Here you’ll find all the possible hostels, independent or not, their prices, tips to book, directions. What’s most appealing about this site is that people come back home and share their stories on the site, like longer testimonials filled with their detailed experiences from the trips. This way, you won’t only know what and how to book, but you’ll get the chance to get well informed before leaving anywhere as well as to write down your own story when you come back home. The branding of the Let’s go project is made from students’ eyes, for students. But if you’re only looking for the siteto book your trip and you’re not interested or don’t have the time for anything else, hostelworld.com is where you have to go in order to get all the European offers.

If you’ve never stayed at a hostel before, what you should really know before going to your trip is that hostels are not only for students and budget travelers, you’ll find all kinds of people here. The good thing is that most of them are really fun to talk to, and every hear there are more seniors and families who decide hostelling, according to th information provided by Hostelling International. Of course, if you’re looking for parties, there are some hostels very popular for this and you can also read the reviews to see what happens there and what to be expecting.

Also, as a general rule, bedding is included so you don’t really have to travel with your blanket the entire Europe (and yes! We have seen such cases), meals can be offered and they’re either included in the standard price when you’re booking (you have to check the facilities offered as well) or you can pay some extra money for it, but it’s usually worth it. Don’t forget that, especially if part of the Hostelling International, these places have their rules and you should respect them. This can come as a drawback especially if you’re looking for party people, otherwise rules are good – they make sure your entire stay is fine and people are educated.

Depending on the country, it’s really better than a hotel to stay here. Usually in the northern countries in Scandinavia the conditions are pretty amazing. However, there are amazing hostels off the beaten path in Europe, all you have to do is make some research on the above mentioned sites and see what’s truly worth it and what not. And, of course – why not – give some feedback when you get home so that other people can also benefit from your trip just as you benefited from theirs.

Have lots of fun!

 

 

Top 4 cheap countries in Europe when you want to stay at a hostel

Eurotrips are quite famous even for budget travelers especially if you’re in your twenties. And there are some places (off the beaten path) that deserve to be seen and, at the same time, are user friendly in terms of price-quality reports.

1. Romania. Probably the only things you know about this country are that it’s not one of the most developed in Europe, Dracula, some sports players and the gypsies. We’re not here to say what’s wrong or right, but all in all the country has some amazing places you could visit from wherever you are. Plus, it’s really the cheapest country in Europe in terms of hosteling. For instance, a hostel in Bucharest, the captial city, can easily be booked for under €10 a night. If you’re thinking that the conditions of the accomodation have to be poor, you’re clearly wrong! There are the same conditions that you’ll see in any other popular European destinations, the only difference being the price!

The top hostel we would recommend in Bucharest is The Cozyness Downtown Hostel. Popcorn, bicycles, car parking, luggage storing, lockers, hairdryers, bed lamps and notebook tables, printer, local phone calls, high speed WiFi (Romania’s the country with the highest internet speed in Europe), maps, umbrellas, coffee and tea, linens and pre-made beds, all these you’ll have for free while the booking will only cost you €5,61. Breakfast’s not included, but there are free ingredients with which you can make your own. Kitchen facilities are for free as well.

2. Bulgaria. Romania’s sister geographically speaking, is another country quite off the beaten path in Europe. However, there are lots of things you could see here as well. Same rule applies – it might not be the most civilized country in Europe (and the drivers seem to have no rules at all!), but it’s really culturally rich and people are truly friendly here as well. A typical hosel facility should not cost you more than €6 to €8 a night. The best offer we’d recommend in Sofia is Hostel Mostel, with only €7 per night you’ll be having the stay of your lifetime. From the homemade free dinner – usually pasta and beer – to the really friendly staff, there’s nothing you could not love about the facilities here. The place is central, it’s cheap, really cozy and people here are amazingly fun and friendly!

3. Serbia is quite unpopular as well for an European country and the chances for anyone to hear a friend saying ‘Hey, I’d like to visit Serbia one day!’ are statistically inexistent. However, the people here are not only friendly but really grateful with anyone who bothers to visit their country, since the economy doesn’t really work quite well and nobody has time to promote the place. Besides the pretty awesome historical and cultural attractions, you have to see this country for the people here. Usually the price of a night in a hostel here starts from €5 with all the included facilities and our recommendation would have to be Hostelche in Belgrade. Laundry facilities, meeting room, tea/coffee, reading light, elevator, games room, common room, adapters, board games, everything you need comes for €8 a night or less. The place looks really cozy and it’s colorful and vibrant, from the first step in you’ll think you’re in the Western European again.

 4. Hungary. Budapest Bubble should be your first option if you’re visiting Hungary and you’ll find it next to the National Museum in the capital city. Linen is provided and so is any other standardized facility. What you should know however is that people aren’t really necessarily very friendly in this country, but they’re really polite and civilized nonetheless. From €7 to €10 you can always find decent accomodation here and this hostel would be the best decision for any traveler because it’s not only very cheap, but very comfy and cozy as well. It’s spotless clean, it’s colorful and alive, but not too noisy at the same time.