+13 ridiculously easy Hacks for Booking Hostels Like a Pro

Booking hacks for hotels and flights became really popular, but booking hacks for Hostels? Booking a hostel has become more and more complex over time. There are more hostels to choose from now than there were years before. And there are several booking portals you can use, but which one is the best and the cheapest?

We at Hostelgeeks do not offer any booking service. We are only your shortcut to the most amazing Hostels in the world: the 5 Star Hostels. If you are curious on how to book the 5 Star Hostels, check out our official booking recommendation here.

This article is part of the ultimate guide to hostels.

We discovered different ways to book hostels and budget accommodation in a smarter and cheaper way. Wanna see how?

We will present you here 11 different hacks for booking a hostel like a pro. Some of these recommendations might be very basic, whereas others require more work and are very specific. Let’s get started:

1. Book your hostel in Advance (or as soon as you can!)

Other than booking flights, most of the time the prices for hostels do not change. As soon as you have booked your flight, train or donkey, get your hostel booking done. Make sure you know what type of Hostel you want to stay at, and then go ahead! But why book in advance? Simple: you will have a bigger selection of hostels to choose from. The most popular hostels are usually sold out soon – why take the risk?

Hostel Booking in Advance

Yes, that’s a Hostel 5 Star Hostel! This is the lounge at Wallyard Concept Hostel in Berlin.

2. 10% discounts to the best hostels in Europe

The easiest and smartest way to save 10% on the best hostels across Europe is the new eBook 2017. It highlights 127 awesome hostels, including castles, swimming pool hostels, funky ones, island hostels and more.

The 10% discounts let you save more than $340 in 2017! Stay only 8 nights in the hostels, and you save big money.

Get your own copy for 19.99€

Not sure? Download the preview for free.

(Full money back guarantee)

Best Hostels in Europe 2017

3. Sign up for Newsletters

This is a dirty little „trick“ to get discounts and special promotions right to your inbox! You can sign up for newsletters at booking portals like hostelworld.com, hostelsclub.com and gomio.com as well as newsletters written directly by the hostel. This hack can be also adapted to airlines e.g. RyanAir and Vueling!

Why is it a good idea to sign up for newsletters? An email is way easier for you to find again rather than a random post on Facebook or Twitter. Yes, we know you may already have too many emails, and this is why you should be picky! Here is another great advantage of these newsletters: as soon as you notice these received emails are completely useless, you can simply unsubscribe with one simple click! You are not stuck with these promotions for life.

Good to know: We also have a very sexy newsletter here at Hostelgeeks. It may not make you run faster or jump higher, but certainly sleep better. On our newsletter we send information about new 5 Star Hostels, Geeky Guides, and hostel discounts as well. Sounds good, right?

The Hostelgeeks Newsletter

4. Do you have Social Followers? Do an exchange

Ask for a discount in exchange for some social promotion

This is a booking hack for the masters of social networks. Do you have many followers or fans on your social networks like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter? Get in contact directly with the hostel, and point it out to them. Send them a tweet, and give them a hint about your existence and your interest in staying at their accommodation! Instagram is also a great way to connect. Check out these 20+ amazing Hostels through the Instagram filter.

First of all they will be thrilled to give you additional information or great photos of their accommodation. Second, you might score some special discounts or freebies such as free drinks. A general rule in case you are thinking about approaching hostels for this one:

You have to have roughly

  • more than 5.000 twitter followers
  • more than 10.000 Instagram followers
  • more than 1.500 fans on Facebook

Free tour Bologna

Again, these numbers are not a fix number or a guarantee. It is a number based on our experience! If you have any questions here, drop us a comment below! And hey, buying those followers for some coins won’t work!

Quick Anecdote: We receive many emails from travelers looking for such a discount with the 5 Star Hostels. Please ONLY try this one if you have a substantial amount of followers, and something cool to offer. Otherwise, I’m afraid this reach-out is pointless.

5. Check the hostels website for Discounts/ Freebies

Booking platforms are a fantastic way to find budget accommodation all over the world, no doubt! Soon we will create an article especially about „How to find good Hostels“. So, how to book the smart way? Simple: copy the Hostels name, and throw it on Google. Hostels usually offer the lowest price for their dorm/private rooms on their own website.

Why is that? This way the hostel saves booking fees – they won’t need to pay anything to the booking platform that promote them. Usually, you find a booking interface directly on the hostel‘s homepage. On our full guide to European Hostels we explain in detail how to book Hostels and comparing prices.

Especially in the off-season you can score some extra discounts on the hostels website. When the accommodation has a special campaign, you will most likely find it directly on the first page!


Good to know: The 5 Star Hostel Backstay Hostel in Ghent does this quite frequently.

Backstay Hostel Ghent - 5 Star and so-called Newspaper Hostel

6. Is there an App?

Isn’t there an app for everything? There is even an App for Joop, the Hostel Cat of Cocomama Boutique Hostel in Amsterdam.

Have a look at the AppStore for iPhone or Android Google Play. Big websites and booking portals like Hostelworld have their own app, offering once in a while mobile booking discounts. There is not any specific app we know about with lower prices. If you have come across one, please drop us a comment!

Good to know: When Vueling, a major Spanish Airline, launched their new application, they had a special promotion. They sent us an email about a big discount when booking by a mobile device using the app. ALRIGHT, we wanted to book anyway. So, we saved a bunch of money plus we got to test their booking app, which is pretty convenient and handy by the way!

11 Hacks for Booking Hostels Like a Pro

7. Get all the availability and services

What on earth does this even mean?! Well, here is some inside knowledge: this is another advantage from the hostel’s website! Booking platforms only sell the rooms and dorms the hostels allocate to them. Yes, read this sentence again! This means some websites may only offer a certain percentage of the actual availability. Some may even only have a specific type room, specific number of rooms allocated to them and so on.

Don’t get fooled! Although the hostel does not seem to be available, you should get in contact with them. They might be available on their own website OR they can help find accommodation close to their hostel. FYI, it is also pretty common for hostels to save some beds for walk-ins!

Quick Anecdote: This happened to us in Hvar, Croatia. The hostel was fully booked, but as we dropped them a message, they gave us a private room in an apartment right next to the hostel. We paid the same as a private room, but we had a full apartment PLUS we got to enjoy the social life of the hostel! SCORE! :)

Rambutan Townsville

This dorm is a stylish piece of accommodation, right?! It is the Rambutan Townsville Hostel, the 5 Star Hostel.

The Seagulls Garret Hostel in Riga (photo below) recommends to drop them an email for any activities in Riga you’d like to join – beforehand! This way they can make sure you will get a spot. Remember that one!

Cool design and good coffee at Seagulls Garret Hostel

8. Avoid Overbooking Problems

Do you know what the term „overbooking“ means? It refers to the fact the accommodation sold more beds and/or rooms they actually have. This means some travelers will arrive at the hostel, facing the fact there is an issue with their booking: no room or bed!

A simple way to avoid this is to book with the hostels website directly. This way your reservation is confirmed 100%, and they won’t let you down.

Overbooking at Hostels?

Those are the under-bed locker at Mountain Hostel Tarter in Andorra.

9. Don’t loose a prepayment – Booking via Email or Phone

No accommodation wants to read this one, but to have this list complete, we need to share this hack with you as well. When booking through a booking platform or with the hostels website you will most of the time pay via credit card. It is totally normal to pay a deposit which is non-refundable. Meaning if you cancel, you won’t get this prepayment back!

Any questions? The team can even help you picking the right sports activity for you!

The Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof gives you something extra when booking directly on their own website. You will receive a free bus ticket from the train station to the hostel. Also, you can cancel your reservation for free up until 24 hours before arrival.

A way to avoid this? Book via email or phone. Although many hostels do not accept these types of bookings except with use of a credit card, some budget accommodations still do.

Please note: Needing to cancel a reservation has happened to everyone – for us too! The flight is delayed, plans change and so on. However, no accommodation likes canceled reservations. The room/bed has been reserved over a period of time only for you, so nobody else has been able to book this spot. A last minute cancellation therefore, can leave a hole in the pocket of the hostel.

How to Book Hostels Like a Pro? Use your phone!

This traveler enjoys the free WiFi at Maverick City Lodge in Budapest, the 5 Star Hostel in Budapest.

10. Are you a Travel Blogger? No, wait, a good(!) travel blogger?

As mentioned in booking hack number 3, you can ask for extras in exchange for social promotion. If you are a travel blogger, this is a different level completely. In case your blog fits with the style of the hostel you are approaching, there is a chance you can get a special deal.And here is how: Have a look on their website, and see what you could possibly improve with your writing/photography skills. Maybe a hostel does not have a blog post about their free tour? Well, this is something you can offer in exchange for accommodation!

And here is how: Have a look on their website, and see what you could possibly improve with your writing/photography skills. Maybe a hostel does not have a blog post about their free tour? Well, this is something you can offer in exchange for accommodation!

Menorca Travel Guide

BUT: Be realistic and don’t be cocky! Lots of Hostels love to cooperate with bloggers, but keep in mind that you have to offer more than simply some exposure through your blog.

Good to know: Drop your desired hostel a tweet and follow them on Instagram. Get to know some details, find out what they might be interested in, and then go for it. If you are interested in more co-operations with hostels, you can get in contact with us as well – we love to work with fellow bloggers!

11. Book your next Hostel at your next Hostel

WHAT?! Many Hostels are part of a Hostel network, and they can offer you a small discount when you book your next hostel booking at their reception. They will send you to their partner hostel in your next desired destination. If you liked the hostel you were staying, give it a try and ask for a recommendation.

Usually you can get here a free drink, or 5% to 10% Discount. Pretty cool, right?! However, this is not really recommended during high season when the great hostels are usually fully booked – mentioned in booking hack #1.

12. 10% Discount or even free stay

Lollis Homestay in Dresden is a 5 Star Hostel, run by genuine backpackers. They offer 10% discounts if you can show that your office or home does not run on nuclear power – simple as that.

Also, can you entertain the hostel crowd for 1 hour? Then your bed is on the house! Just send Lollis Homestay an email and you can figure out the details.

Lollis Hostel and its own cinema dorm

13. Use Hostelgeeks! „Call me hack, please!“

Yes! We are that narcissistic that we call ourselves a booking hack for hostels.

But seriously: whenever you have a doubt about hostels, you can drop us a tweet, comment, message, letter pigeon! We ARE Hostel Geeks, this name is no coincidence. Also, you can check out our Hostel Guide. There you will find everything about Hostels you need to know! Another Hostel expert you can always ask for hostel recommendations is Katie aka. The Hostel Girl.

We at Hostelgeeks award 5 Star Hostels based on transparent criteria. We do the research and leg work for you, so the only thing you need to do is book, turn up and enjoy the hostel! But no: We are still not a booking engine and will never be one! This means you cannot book your hostel with us. We will give you, of course the hostels website!

Here on Hostelgeeks we, Anna&Matt, show you THE most outstanding Hostel in your desired place – 1 Hostel per destination! Again: This way you can keep it simple and find directly a superb design conscious hostel in town.

What if there is a no hostel in your upcoming destination? Get in contact, we will recommend you the coolest hostel that we’ve found so far – go on, challenge us!

Summary Hacks for Booking Hostels Like a Pro

We wanted to give you an overview of the different possibilities on how to hack the hostel booking process. As you can see there are some different approaches here, and some of them may take some time and experience. Once you have applied them, you will see how effective they can be.

Do you know any other hack for booking hostels? Wonderful! Leave us a comment.

Anna&Matt

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