I've been travelling on a regular basis for 15 years, mostly to Europe, but other countries as well. And I still stay in hostels as my preferred type of accommodation. I've been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Kiplinger, Consumer Reports, and other publications as a source of information about hostels.

I'm the founder of the hostel information website Hostelz.com. It's the only website that tries to list information on all hostels worldwide (including direct contact info) and features a price comparison of all the major hostel booking websites, a combined rating score, and reviewer photos and reviews to show you what the hostels really look like.

You can ask me general questions about hostels and travel, but I can also run calculations from our data on Hostelz.com. So you can ask me things like...

  • What month are hostels cheapest in Paris?
  • What country has the highest ratio of girls to guys staying in the hostels?
  • What's the highest rated hostel in Italy? What's the worst rated?
  • What country has the cheapest hostels?
  • What percent of hostels are listed on Hostelworld?
  • What percent of hostel bookings are for a solo traveler?
  • What percent of hostels in Spain allow pets?
  • What's the dirtiest hostel in Europe (lowest cleanliness rating)?
  • What percent of hostels require you to bring your own sheets?
  • What country has the most hostels?
  • Why is there always a group of Australian guys in my dorm room at every hostel who want me to go party with them? (j/k, no one knows the answer to that one)

By the way, this IAmA was partly inspired by Dan's IAmA about hostels last year, so I want to give him credit for that. Check out his post and great answers as well.

Proof: https://www.facebook.com/hostelz - https://www.hostelz.com/about

Comments: 85 • Responses: 18  • Date: 

eyesearskneesandtoes19 karma

What month are hostels cheapest in Paris? What country has the highest ratio of girls to guys staying in the hostels? What's the highest rated hostel in Italy? What's the worst rated? What country has the cheapest hostels? What percent of hostels are listed on Hostelworld? What percent of hostel bookings are for a solo traveler? What percent of hostels in Spain allow pets? What's the dirtiest hostel in Europe (lowest cleanliness rating)? What percent of hostels require you to bring your own sheets? What country has the most hostels?

hostelz13 karma

You ask such good questions! I'm not sure if you really want to know the answer to every one of the sample questions from my post, but I will answer the first one at least.

These are the average prices in USD$ for one dorm bed for one night based on price data of hostels in Paris from the past 12 months:

  • January $24.82
  • February $25.27
  • March $26.85
  • April $27.41
  • May $27.28
  • June $26.74
  • July $27.49
  • August $27.64
  • September $26.91
  • October $26.61
  • November $25.64
  • December $26.04

So January is the cheapest, with November being a close second place. So, go now!

AnswerAwake1 karma

What is the best hostel in Paris in your opinion?

hostelz1 karma

I actually visited about 30 of the top hostels in Paris this past summer. Personally I'd probably pick the Plug-Inn hostel because it's just a really nice modern hostel and it's social but not a party hostel. Smart Place is a very similar one that's also good. Really, there are a lot of very good hostels in Paris (which is great, because 10 years ago there wasn't a single good hostel in Paris).

But if you prefer the idea of staying in a really big hostel that's a little more of a party hostel, the Generator Paris might be a good choice.

AnswerAwake1 karma

Are you f'in kidding me?!!!! Are you just looking on Wikitravel for suggestions or did you actually stay at that cramped ripoff hostel that charges 5$ a day for internet access that is less than 1Mb\s???? and completely unreliable, broken fridge, church like breakfast culture, and terribly stocked computers. Montmartre has FAR better options! In my opinion that is the worst possible option available.

I wanted to see if you had some actual insight into a particular city I know all too well. You stayed at 30 hostels but chose Plug-Inn out of all of them? It seems as if all you know is a higher level view of the market and not any detailed info. It makes no sense!

Generator is far from the best party hostel in Paris. It is like the Mcdonalds of Paris hostels. It is ok if you just need a bed. Paying for their food and not having any kitchen facilities from last I checked is not a good value in my opinion but this is subjective. Generator being very corporate like will accept people banned by other hostels and so it has some interesting people who visit. This can be a good or bad thing.

If this is the quality of information that you have than I don't put great hope that your other recommendations on the site are of any substantial merit.

I say this not to be mean but as someone who has been burned multiple times by Tripadvisor and Wikitravel and hearing Plug-In being your top pick has brought back an avalanche of horrible memories and infuriating moments.

hostelz1 karma

Well, if it makes you feel any better, I no longer write the official featured reviews for Hostelz.com, so the reviews and ratings you'll find on there are generally from other people.

By the way, my main complaint about the Generator would be that the their downstairs common space is mostly a public space rather than hostel common space. I don't really like the hostel combined with a public bar/restaurant thing. I know some people are upset about the lack of a kitchen in a lot of newer hostels, but I'm more ok with that in big cities where there are all kinds of local prepared restaurant/take-out options that are as cheap as making your own food. It would be nice if they at least had a fridge (I don't remember there being one).

Out of curiosity, what hostel(s) would you recommend in Paris?

shith_lard8 karma

Regarding male/female ratio here is what OP said in previous thread:

Here are the top 5:

New Zealand (54% female)

Costa Rica (53% female)

Australia (53% female)

Fiji (51% female)

Greece (50% female)

If I had to summarize that, is seems like girls perhaps prefer nature destinations?

The rest of the countries have at least a slightly higher number of males than females (a lot of countries are in the 40-49% range). But I should explain that this data is based on bookings where they chose "male" or "female", but there's also a "mixed" option for bookings where the group is a mix of guys and girls. So the above ratio is actually a ratio of the girl-only bookings vs. guy-only bookings. So couples and mixed groups aren't included. I don't have the data on a city-level, but our data for France is that the bookings are actually about 40% female.

hostelz4 karma

Yep.

Sparkykc12410 karma

I'm an American in my early 40s. My girlfriend and I would like to travel in Europe but can't afford hotels for any length of time. We're competent backpackers and can rough it if need be so hostels seem logical. I've no experience with hostels and have always viewed them as being for young people. Are we too old to stay in hostels?

hostelz17 karma

Well, there are party hostels where it seems like everyone is 18-22 years old and you might feel a little out of place at that kind of hostel.

So it's all about finding the right kind of hostel. You can usually get a pretty good idea what the hostel is like from the photos and reviews (on Hostelz.com you can also click the "suitable for" menu button on the city pages, and choose "quiet rest" as one option to look for). It's getting to be that more and more older travelers are staying in hostels, and 40 is about the average age at some kinds of hostels. Hostelling International (a non-profit hostel group) hostels in particular tend to attract older travellers, including everyone from families with kids to the elderly.

By the way, if you're only goal is saving money, when you're a couple hostels are often cheaper than hotels, but not always. In some countries and some cities you can get a decent cheap hotel room for almost the same as you would pay for two dorm beds in a hostel. Most if you like the idea of interacting with other people, most people prefer hostels because of the social atmosphere and the interactions you can have with people from lots of different countries. I will say that when you're a couple, it is also nice to have a private room just to yourselves now and then.

theongoingwow6 karma

In your experience, have there been times when 2 people started....getting it on, in shared rooms?

Also, is there a way to see stats on your webiste?

hostelz9 karma

Yep. I haven't seen that happen in my recent trips, but I did a few times when I was staying in some of the crazier "party hostels" where there's a lot of drinking and partying. Usually they'll keep it pretty quiet and under the covers at least.

If that's not something you want to see, you can pretty much avoid that entirely by not staying at party hostels. That almost never happens at the nicer hostels that aren't just all about partying. At most hostels, people are all about being respectful of the people around them and most people are extremely polite.

Also, is there a way to see stats on your webiste?

Not currently, but that might be interesting to add. What kind of stats would you be interested in?

theongoingwow5 karma

Personally, I would love to see stuff like the average price per country, the abundance of hostels per country, as it would be extremely useful for those looking to stay at a hostel but are not set on one single place. From what I've seen, I think it would be a great addition to your already slick looking website. You could add in other stats that are also helpful/intriguing, i.e cleanliness, where families tend to go, where solo travelers tend to go, pet friendliness, most LGBT friendly countries, etc.

hostelz3 karma

That's a good idea. The immediate plan is to add more stats to our city pages (things like a graph of the average price for each month of the year).

Getting into overall stats for comparing countries isn't something that we've thought as much about, but that's an interesting idea. I guess I'm not sure if most people already know which countries they want to go to, or if there are a lot of people trying to decide that.

deathrite25 karma

How is security in a lot of the hostels? I would like to go on a solo trip but I worry for the security of both my items and myself (I am female).

hostelz13 karma

As far as your items, nearly all hostels have somewhere safe for you to store your valuables. It's getting to be very common for most hostels to have lockers where you can often fit your whole backpack in the locker and lock it. At worst, some hostels just offer to hold your valuables in a safe or secure place at the reception desk. That's not as convenient, but at least your stuff will be safe.

It's amazing how many people leave their laptops and valuables just sitting in a dorm room while they're out for the day, and theft isn't super common in hostels, so usually their stuff doesn't get stolen. But it's always best to put your valuables somewhere secure.

As far as personal safety, there are tons of young solo female travelers who stay in hostels. In most hostels you'll usually feel more secure than staying at a hotel because you're always surrounded by not just the staff and security, but also other travelers who are typically the kind of people who look out for each other. I usually feel less safe if I'm in a cheap hotel in a foreign country just alone in a room with soundproof walls than I do if I'm staying in a hostel dorm room with a bunch of friendly people from various places. Of course, if you ever don't feel right about the situation you should ask to move to a different room. And hostels do also usually offer private rooms.

shith_lard5 karma

I was slightly scammed at a Paris hostel- they gave me uncleaned dirty sheets citing "broken washer" as a reason, and they crammed in 15 people into a room where there were supposed to be "only" 12 people. What can I do to protect myself from such minor issues?

I know hostel reviews can be unreliable. What are things to look for when I'm booking hostels online?

Hostels vs Airbnb - what are your thoughts?

Thanks in advance.

hostelz7 karma

The reviews really are the only reliable way to try to avoid bad hostels. If a hostel only has a handful of ratings, it's hard to know if you can really rely on that. But hostels that have been around for a while will have a hundred or more ratings, and that's a pretty good reliable average. Hostelz combines the ratings scores from all the major hostel booking websites, so hopefully that means it will have the most information to make a judgement. But still, sometimes you just have bad luck with an otherwise good hostel. Who knows, maybe they had an unusually large group and the staff wasn't smart enough to figure out that they need to go use a laundromat if their washer is broken, but otherwise maybe it's a great hostel on most days.

Hostels vs Airbnb - what are your thoughts?

I like Airbnb a lot. I would usually choose Airbnb over a hotel. But I still love hostels and usually stay in hostels because they offer the common space and interactions with other travelers that you can't in any other type of accommodation. I can't think of anywhere else where regularly find yourself hanging out with people from 5 different countries all at once, sharing your experiences, and learning about what real people are like, not just the stuff you hear about their country from the news.

HarmlessKitten4 karma

What has been the creepiest experience in your career?

hostelz4 karma

That's a tough one. I've had plenty of experiences that were bad in various ways, but I can't think of one that I would exactly call "creepy". Do you have a creepy travel story you want to share?

HarmlessKitten3 karma

Okay, if not creepy, what was your weirdest experience?

The creepiest travel story I have? I had my drink spiked while visiting a friend, I passed out and woke up in A&E. My friend said she'd seen the same guy in each club that night and that she thought he was probably following us. We figured he was the one behind it.

hostelz11 karma

Ok, here's a completely different kind of creepy. A while back I was travelling to Portland, Oregon and decided to stay at the McMenamins Edgefield since they offer dorm beds and I wanted to try something different than the other hostels that I had already stayed at. So it's located far from the city center, pretty much in the middle of a rural area, and I ended up in a big dorm room with probably 16 beds in it... and no one else was staying there, I was completely alone. Now what really made it creepy is the building is an old, old building that was once a jail and hospital (a mental hospital is what I was told) and the receptionist mentioned something about it being haunted when I asked about the place. The walls are all covered with creepy art like this. So it was just a big empty dark room, with creepy paintings staring at me, and apparently not another living person staying on the whole floor as far as I could tell. It definitely wasn't the hostel experience I was used to. I guess the only danger was in my mind, but I was happy to switch to a different place in the central part of the city the next morning.

Edit: I also found this just now when I was Googling it: http://www.advocate-online.net/lifestyle/the-spooky-side-of-mcmenamins-edgefield-2255/

mog-pharau3 karma

I know next to nothing about hostels. In my mind I've always thought of hostels as a kind of barracks sleeping area. Is it possible to get a private room in a hostel? Your own (non-shared) bathroom?

hostelz6 karma

Hostels of about 20 years ago were very cheap and very basic accommodations, exclusively for young people. You used to have to bring your own sheets since all got was a bare mattress and a pillow.

Today, many hostels are nicer than most hotels and they cater to travelers of all ages.

A dorm room is still the defining thing that makes a hostel different than a hotel. But most hostels do offer private rooms as well, often with your own bathroom. In that case you can get all the amenities of a hotel, but with the friendly social environment and common space that hostels are known for. Sometimes the line between hostels and hotels does get a little blurred in that case, but a hostel is still usually defined as any accommodation that has at least some dorm bed rooms.

LulusPanties2 karma

Which country has the cheapest hostels?

Which country has the cleanest hostels?

How much is a private room hostel on average in a big city in:
Singapore?
Malaysia?
Thailand?
Taiwan?

hostelz2 karma

It's going to take me a little more time to figure out how to run some of those other stats, so I'll have to post another reply in a little bit. But for now here's an answer to your first question:

Which country has the cheapest hostels?

It's interesting because when I ran the data last year, the cheapest country for hostel dorm beds is the same again this year, but its prices also dropped even more this year. The cheapest country is Ukraine (US$5.93 per dorm bed per night average). From what I hear, the popular tourist destinations in Western Ukraine are as safe and attractive as ever, so it may be a good time to go there (but the hostels in the west probably aren't quite as cheap).

The next cheapest four cheapest countries by the way are all Banana Pancake Trail countries...

  • Cambodia (US$6.56)
  • Nepal (US$6.77)
  • Laos (US$6.77)
  • Vietnam (US$6.92)

truthaboutcs2 karma

What do you think about the movie Predator?

hostelz20 karma

I don't know if I'm qualified to answer questions about Predator. I will, however, discuss Rampart.

HairyDonkeyBallz2 karma

How does one go about finding work in hostels? Can you tell us a little about your experiences working for hostels?

hostelz3 karma

It is possible to find work in a hostel, but in most countries there are a lot more people looking for those kinds of jobs than there are jobs available, so it's competitive. In Europe in particular, it's also complicated because some countries are very strict about work visas and employment restrictions.

There are a lot of websites that list job openings at hostels (http://www.hosteltraveljobs.com, https://hosteljobs.net, etc.), and it's worth trying those. But if that doesn't work out, you're usually better off asking about work when you're actually at a hostel so they can meet you in person. But some hostels get a lot of job inquiries, so it helps if you either have a magnetic personality, or if you have hospitality industry experience. There are also "work hostels" where the hostel is tied to a farm or other places of work, but I've mostly only seen those in Australia.

WickedCunnin2 karma

Which countries have the highest ratio of guys to girls?

hostelz1 karma

The Philippines. I'm not sure why that is.

RegularCitizen1 karma

Do marketers try to pay you to promote things (like backpacks)? If so, how do you feel about it?

hostelz4 karma

I/we haven't been paid to promote any travel products. We have a packing guide that recommends three backpacks. None of those companies paid us anything to recommend those.

The first two links are Amazon affiliate links, so if you do buy something through those links, we do get an affiliate commission (we're averaging about $50/month from that). But that didn't influence the choice of backpacks since just about any backpack is probably available from Amazon.

Tony49UK1 karma

What is the dirtiest hostel in London?

hostelz1 karma

https://www.hostelz.com/hostel/+215905-Heathrow-Hostel

That's the hostel with the lowest combined cleanliness score from ratings on all the hostel booking websites.

According to the reviews, apparently it also has "naked men strolling around." So that may be a plus or minus depending on what you're looking for...