Top Things to Look for When Booking a Hostel or Budget Hotel

In June I’m helping to lead a STM(short-term mission) team to Italy.  At the end of our trip we are stopping in Roma for two days of vacation before we fly home.  As of last week, we need to find a place to say for our last night in Roma.  We are less than a month out not to mention it’s the busiest time of the year – the beginning of the travel season.   In my haste I realized this is a great opportunity to write a post on what to look for in a hostel or budget hotel. When it comes to last minute accommodations there are two schools of thought.   Pay a ridiculous amount of money on a nice hotel in the center of the city or, the economic choice, crash at a hostel for the night.   Since Italy isn’t cheap we’re going with the latter.

Here are the top things I look for when I choose a hostel or budget hotel.

  • Breakfast included in the ticket price.  Let’s face it. When you have limited time and are anxious to see the sights, the last thing you want to do is hassle with is breakfast.  Not to mention the amount of money you’re already spending on the hotel (and how much food can cost at a caffé) it’s beneficial to have breakfast provided.
  • Lockers.  A good hostel is provides lockers for their customers.  If you have your own private room, then it’s not much of a concern.  Lastly, make sure if you want to leave you back at reception after the check out time, double check before hand
  • Positive reviews.  Often times I find my hostels on a websites such as,, or Reviews are your best friend. You can get a great idea of how clean, friendly, and safe a hostel can be.  I would be careful; look at the nationality of the person who left the comment.  So I don’t get in trouble; let me clarify what I mean.  Just about every nationality is more forgiving, gracious, and tolerant then most Americans.  I have a deep respect for other cultures. I’m a ethnographer at heart.  That begin said I would rather trust a recommendation from someone living in Sãn Paolo, Brazil than someone from New York City.  Reason being both parties define quality two different ways – due to culture differences. In my observation, a Brazilian would much rather stay in a place that is clean and friendly, than luxurious and secluded. Again just a general thought.  I welcome a perspective from both parties. Please lend your perspective in the comment section.   I’m an American.  I feel like I’m speaking for Americans and the rest of the world went I say, we need to be respectful of others when we travel.  Let’s illuminate the amount of ugly American out there. Forgive me I digress.
  • Location.  When staying in a hostel, often you must walk to get to them from the main train station.  In this case the closer the hostel is to the station the better.  I find on the hostel site they have a Google map of the area around the hostel.  If not Google the address.
  • Kitchen included.  If you speak with anyone who backpacked in the olden days kitchens were a standard amenity.   Now-a-days it’s hard to find access to a kitchen.  You can cut down costs by cooking your own food; kitchens are essential.  Also some hostels offer a welcome dinner for your first night in town.

In the experience these are some of the top things to look for when investigating a low cost place to spend the night.  I will let you know where we stayed when I return – along with my review.

Questions of the day:  What do you look for in a hostel or budget hotel?

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