How to Choose and Book Hostel, Hotel, and Airbnb Accommodations
How do you decide between hostels, hotels, or Airbnb accommodations when traveling? There really isn’t a right answer, more of a personal preference; so, I will give you mine. If I am traveling solo, I undoubtedly choose a hostel which affords me the opportunity to be social. If I am staying with friends, I typically go for an airbnb since it is nice to have your own place and not worry about spending your trip alone. Hotels are great for couples or families if you don’t mind splurging a bit. Sometimes, in places like Paris, hotels can even be more reasonable than hostels, although that is not the norm.
And since this is the Perfectionist’s Guide to Spontaneous Travel, you might ask the following question. Can you book these accommodations last minute? Typically, yes. You will have absolutely no problem finding a more than suitable option even the night before or day of if you follow my tips below. My main exception to the rule on this is when you are booking an all-inclusive resort in Mexico, for example, and your entire stay is predominately based around your hotel stay. Book that in advance! Other exceptions would be if you are traveling with a big group, do not want to split up rooms, or are traveling to celebrate a festival in a city during high season. Otherwise, I travelled solo around Europe in July and while I may not have stayed at the number one rated place in every city, I was able to maintain a very high standard for the accommodations that I chose to stay in.
My first course of action is to go on Hostelworld and type in my location and dates. Once the search page comes up, I immediately sort by overall rating. Once the page showcases the highest rated hostels on top, I try to find a place that has a good balance of reviews, price, and location. Personally, I prefer a female only dorm if that is available not just for safety purposes but also because I have found that the snoring isn’t as loud. If you follow these steps, you should find yourself a great hostel. I know some people prefer to book directly with the hostel as they then don’t have to put down a 10% deposit fee, but I enjoy the comfortability of booking through Hostelworld. Make sure to bring a lock, earplugs, and personal towel with you! Usually, you can book a hostel last minute and still find a decent place to stay if you are travelling on your own. The main exception to this would be if there is a big festival such as Oktoberfest where people book months in advance.
I first look up hotel accommodations on TripAdvisor. I recommend plugging in the dates as well as location and then sort immediately by ranking. This way, TripAdvisor will already filter out the hotels that aren’t available on your selected dates and will save you some time from looking up promising, but unavailable options. TripAdvisor is great because it not only has an accurate ranking system since so many people rely on it for their travels, but the site also compares prices on popular booking sites such as Expedia, Bookings.com, and Priceline. I basically just go down the page and find the hotel with the best ranking in my price range. Location is key too. Also, don’t forget to look up extra fees such as resort fees, parking costs, and cancellation policy. Tripadvisor should give you a pretty thorough search; however, I still like to double and triple check on sites like trivago and Expedia. I also enjoy using the app Hotels Tonight to see if there are any good deals on a last minute hotel.
I have used Airbnb twice in Europe and both have been excellent experiences. Both accommodations were booked the night before I arrived. The first was on the pricier side but I had my own apartment and the location could not have been more perfect. The second was a private room with unimaginable charm in a fifth floor walkup in the middle of the city. I have found the mobile and Ipad versions more difficult to use than a desktop or laptop computer, since it is more difficult to navigate the multitude of options on a small screen. It is doable; however, if you have the opportunity, book on the full site on a computer. They have a Guest Refund Policy if you should have a legitimate “travel issue” such as the host cancelling within 24 hours of your arrival. Luckily, I did not have a problem with either of the properties, so I can’t attest to the customer service in this particular situation. One potential issue I did come across was that they had to text you a verification number. Since I was in Europe without an international plan, I could not receive text messages. My boyfriend had a plan on his phone so that did not end up being an issue. We did live chat on the website though about an account issue and got everything fixed in a few minutes. If you do have that issue, you can definitely chat and I am sure they will provide some sort of fix for you.
How do you choose whether to stay in a hostel, hotel, or Airbnb? And have you tried any other types of accommodations like couch surfing? Please share in the comments below!
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