We will present you here different hacks, techniques, tips or whatever you want to call them for booking a hostel like a pro. Some of these recommendations might be very basic, whereas others require more work and are very specific.
Hence, this is our basic hostel booking guide you want to read ’til the end.
Yes, this guide is up to date and as fresh as a cold coconut on the beach in Koh Phangan. Alright, you see we have a lot to go through and to cover. Worry not, it is all much easier than it might seem. Are you traveling frequently? Then this is a must-read to book the smart way and save money.
We at Hostelgeeks receive special discounts for our readers. Those are exclusively for our readers – yes – such as YOU!
These discounts usually work super simple. We at Hostelgeeks share the promo codes in our free newsletter, Instagram or here on our website. Only in our newsletter you will receive ALL discount codes for hostels! Subscribe, it is free.
Hostelworld is the #1 website for actually booking hostels.
They have the widest selection of all hostels. The downside is they also include hotels, guesthouses, camping sites and more. So make sure you pick the right accommodation type for you.
They run different contests and there is even promo codes for hostelworld. We have created this special page where we collect all current discounts of Hostelworld.
When we receive special discounts, we will share them as well in our sexy, fresh, free and exclusive newsletter. Yes, that’s 4 adjectives!
That brings us to our newsletter…….
Ohhh, hold on, almost forgot: The Hostelworld App is epic. You should download it, too. You can download the app here.
We wrote a big, detailed guide introducing the app. They now offer as well this super cool social feature where you can connect to fellow travelers in the same hostel and city BEFORE you get there. Super cool.
This is a little „trick“ to get discounts and special promotions straight to your inbox! We already mentioned our own newsletter, but there are obviously more. Sign up for newsletters at booking portals like
as well as newsletters written directly by the hostel (although not common)
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 useful and powerful newsletter here at Hostelgeeks.
Here we share more insight knowledge on how to score cheaper deals.
Whether it’s transport, accommodation, tours, activities…we share all the secrets to budget travel in style – in our newsletter. And again, we share here our hostel promo codes too.
5. Get a $35 discount on AirBnb
AirBnb, another giant in the accommodation industry. With this referral link you can score a credit of $35 for your stays all around the world. That is absolutely amazing. Make the math.
Airbnb can be great for booking a full apartments or unique accommodations. But, there is a downside to it. These apartments can be illegal, meaning they do not have a proper tourism license.
More importantly for you might be the fact, that Airbnb’s are completely different types of accommodations. You won’t have the hostel lifestyle, meeting fellow travelers and joining their events. Of course, it always depend on your mood, your current situation, your destination. And sometimes there is simply no good hostel in a city or town.
Before staying at a bad hostel, it is worth it to take a look at Airbnb.com
We love to mix it up by staying in Airbnbs as well as hostels.
Seriously, some hostels have their own app. Have a look at the AppStore for iPhone or Android Google Play.
Big websites and booking portals like Booking.com have their own app, offering once in a while mobile booking discounts. There is not any specific app we know about with lower prices though. (If you have come across one, please drop us a comment!)
As mentioned before, we highly recommend installing the Hostelworld App. It is so useful and esy to use. You can also connect to fellow hostel mates before you arrive.
We wrote a big, detailed article about the app. They now offer as well this super cool social feature where you can connect to fellow travelers in the same hostel and city BEFORE you get there. Super cool.
Well, here is some inside knowledge: this is another advantage from hostelz.com
Booking platforms can 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 roomtype, specific number of rooms allocated to them and so on.
Don’t be fooled!!!!
Therefore, you should always check as well Hostelz.com! They check both Hostelworld and Booking.com. It can save you money AND stress!
*How about an example?*
Let’s call the hostel “EPIC FUN Hostel”.
Our Epic Fun Hostel wants to sell beds and rooms aka. welcome you as guests. In order to sell more beds and rooms, the hostel gives platform A and platform B the rooms and beds to sell.
Epic Fun Hostel gives platform A only 2 out of 4 private rooms to sell for the price of 20€.
Epic Fun Hostel gives platform B only 8 out of 10 the beds in dorms to sell for the price of 10€.
On our own website we have both 4/4 private rooms for 18€ and 10/10 beds for 9€.
Now imagine platform b sells all their 8 beds…this means, the hostel still has 2 beds free that the platform cannot sell.
Do you see where we are going with this?
This is why actually using Hostelz.com makes so much sense. You have all beds and prices at a glance.
Although the hostel does not seem to be available, it might be. The solution is Hostelz.com. They check Booking.com, Hostelworld, Hostelsclub and more to get ALL the availability. When we were staying in a hostel in Medellin, this girl wanted to stay in the same hostel as our group. On Hostelworld it says the hostel was not available. BUT, it was available on Booking.com.
She checked it with Hostelz.com. Fantastic! This way we could all stay together in the same hostel. WUHU!
FYI, it is also pretty common for hostels to save some beds for walk-ins!
Another quick Anecdote: This happened to us in Hvar, Croatia.
The super cool hostel we wanted to stay at was fully booked….OH NO!!!
We dropped them a message anyways via Facebook. The result? They gave us a private room in an apartment right next door in a separate house. 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!
To all Hostel Owners and Managers:
Please make sure you have your availability always up to date! We recommend using software to reduce human errors and increase sales too. Here is our review of Cloudbeds, a PMS and Booking engine software for hostels.
8. Avoid so-called “Overbookings”
Do you know what the term „overbooking“ means?
It refers to the fact the accommodation sold more beds and/or rooms they actually have available. This means some travelers will arrive at the hostel, facing the fact there is an issue with their booking: no room or bed!
Do you remember the example from above? Imagine the hostel sells 12 out of 10 beds…that leaves 2 travelers sleeping on the floor.
A simple way to avoid this is to book with the booking portal and NOT with the hostel directly.
This way your reservation is confirmed 100%, and they cannot let you down.
Also good to know: When your hostel of choice is sold out on the main hostel booking sites, but you find a bed or room on a tiny hostel booking site…well, then we recommend you not to book this. This is what we mentioned in #7.
The availability may not be up to date.
To be absolutely sure, you can also call the hostel directly and double-check!
For Hostel Owners and Managers:
One way to avoid overbookings is using the right hostel management software. Check here our firsthand Cloudbeds Review and take advantage of a generous Cloudbeds Promo Code just for you.
9. Booking via Email or Phone (we would not do this though…)
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 reservation 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 your prepayment back!
A way to avoid this? In theory, you could 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.
At Booking.com you can book many hotels and hostels without any prepayment. Some of them even allow bookings without credit card.
The second option, however, is at an extra (low) fee.
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.
Why did I mention we at Hostelgeeks do not book via Phone or Email?
Simply because you have no proof of reservation. Some hostels could not honor your reservation and give your room or bed to another guest who books it on Hostelworld. We heard this so many times!
Therefore, Hostelworld and Booking actually save you this hassle. It is 100% confirmed.
So you are an influencer with an audience or a travel blogger looking to work with hostels?
Then please read this.
In case your blog fits with the style of the hostel you are approaching, there is a chance you can get a special deal. ONLY THEN!
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!
You could offer cool new photos to the hostel. Show them your photography skills. Some hostels could be very interested in updating their photos.
This could be a big plus for them.
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 “exposure” through your blog.
Nobody can live from exposure and it is such a fluffy term, it almost does not mean anything. And no, you cannot pay with kisses and hugs.
Also but: Do not try to be that #Influencer that wants free stuff in exchange for a night for free. Hostels and Hotels are not up for this really. Unless your instagram is super relevant and really famous, just skip that part.
“Only reach out to hostels if you can actually offer real value!”
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 hostel in advaaaaaance (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.
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?
12. Barter Deal: Discounts or even a Free Stay
Lollis Homestay in Dresden is one of the best hostels in Germany, and 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.
The cool part is, many hostels offer these kind of deals.
They are called “barter deals”.
We once walked into a hostel that offered a free night for translating their website to your native language.
13. Use Hostelgeeks! „Call me hack, please!“
Whenever you have a doubt about hostels, you can drop us a tweet, comment, message, letter pigeon!
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
plus 10.000 Instagram followers
more than 1.500 fans on Facebook
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.
Okay okay, we just gave you a bunch of tips and tricks to book hostels. But, what about all the hostel websites out there?
Is there any difference? Does it make a difference to you?
So, here you go:
When it comes to hostels, you will most likely come across Hostelworld.com very soon.
It is the world’s biggest platform for booking hostels. It has the widest selection of hostels. They also offer a handy application for iPhone and Android that helps you to book and manage your bookings.
One of the cons though is the information. It can be overwhelming to pick out the best hostel in town.
Therefore, we did our research, narrowed it down for you and created different hostel guides with the
Update 2021: They know have exclusive content for signed up members and you can make a profile. We did ours already, check it out here.
And of course, the best available price for your travel dates!
Note: This is not a booking system. It simply helps you find the cheapest price for your chosen dates. So, for example, if you decide to book through Hostelworld, you will be taken to their website to complete your booking.
There are many cool and unique features to help save you time in your search.
We particularly enjoy the “suitable for” section under the filter tab. This is where you can choose your hostel type, such as Party Hostel, Boutique Hostel, Female Solo Traveller, Couples etc. Super handy!
Hostelbookers is nowadays the little brother of Hostelworld and is owned by them as well. Back in the days, Hostelbookers (or HB for short) used to be a strong competitor of Hostelworld. Now, it is basically the same in a different design. You will find the same hostels and availability on both pages.
Our verdict: No real need to use Hostelbookers, sorry.
The giant of the industry also lists hostels. When using Booking.com for your hostel bookings, it is recommended to use the left sidebar with the filters. Filter by “hostels” and then “ratings better than 8 stars”.
This basic setup will give you a selection of budget accommodations, hence, hostels to choose from.
What we like more on Booking.com is their reviews. The users of Booking.com are usually older while the hostelworld user is younger, generally speaking.
Meaning, when you are looking for hostels for adults, Booking.com might be the better place to compare ratings.
When comparing Hostelworld and Booking.com, you might notice the difference in ratings. The hostelworld ratings tend to be higher, therefore better, while the reviews on Booking.com are lower.
Again, this might be the case because of the Booking.com being more critical.
With a strong focus on hostels, Hostelsclub does also list hotels, campsites, B&Bs, guesthouses and apartments.
However, the generic search will show the user a list of hostels. The simplicity of the site means it’s easy and quick to find great hostels in your desired destination.
This site has over 30.000 accommodations across 176 countries, so it’s certainly a good option in your search.
Bonus: they have a dedicated blog section which is both useful and fun for a range of traveller types.
Our verdict? There is similarity in speed, ease and efficiency between Hostelsclub and Hostelz. However, Hostelz.com has the added bonus of price comparison which saves even more time (and money!).
Last but not least, let us have a closer look at, well, us!
Hostelgeeks is the only website for hostels that does not offer any hostel booking service. We are a brand of the finest hostels in the world, but do no provide any service to confirm bookings.
We are your community and gateway to the best hostels, the 5 star hostels; nothing more, nothing less.
Not only that, but because we are genuine hostel geeks, we’re always finding new ways to deliver tips, tricks and hacks to the hostel world. Because we want YOU to save on time, money and energy. And well, because we love hostels!
A common question, is there a cheapest hostel booking site?
The answer is: NO!
There is no cheapest hostel booking site that ALWAYS gives you the best price. This is simply impossible.
The prices are put up by the hostels themselves. Meaning, a hostel puts for instance the price
10€ to Platform A
11€ to Platform B
10.50€ to Platform C
They do this to increase maybe their revenue, to receive more bookings, save on booking commissions and more. Therefore, we have to disappoint you: There is no cheapest hostel booking site.
Having said that, Hostelz.com is a real contender when it comes to finding the best price. It’s a price comparison site for hostels, comparing the major booking sites so you can find the best price, fast!
Just remember, this is NOT a booking site; it’s a price comparison site and you will be required to complete your booking on the major booking site of your choice i.e Hostelworld.
Keep comparing, it is worth it to save some money on your bookings.
The solution to find the cheapest price?
Always compare the websites we mentioned above.
Especially with the 5 Star Hostels, you find cheapest prices always with Hostelz.com. This way you can score the best deal. Also, on Hostelgeeks we give you several booking platforms to compare. We always try to give you the cheapest option.
Many hostel websites require a so-called pre-payment. This payment confirms your booking and may not be refundable. Make sure you read what you are exactly paying.
There are also different types of payment.
You can pay everything BEFORE you arrive.
You can pay nothing, not even leaving a prepayment and pay everything by arrival.
Or you pay a few % prepayment and the rest when arriving.
Whatever it is, make sure you’re clear on how much you’re paying and when.
This brings us to cancellations. Before typing in your credit card details, make sure you read the cancellation terms. Sometimes you will lose 100% of the money, when you do not show up.
Hostels and platforms call that a “no show”.
4. Room type/ Bed type
Another common mistake is choosing the right room type or bed in a dorm. When you would love to have a private double room for you and your partner, make sure you select this – and not 2 beds in a dorm.
Pay a little attention, because many many travelers do this mistake once in a while.
Good to know: Many many destinations in this world charge a so-called “tourist tax”. This is a tax that is charged by the city. Most of the time, this tax is not included in your price you see online.
However, do not get mad when a hostel charges you something here extra. This can happen. On the other hand, make sure this is a legal fee charged by the city – and not a shady hostel.
How much is tourist tax? There is no generic rule. To give you an idea, in Barcelona the tourist tax is between 0,45 Euro – 2,25 Euro per person, per night – but only up to 7 nights.
8. Be Safety Smart
There are a few things to consider before booking a hostel, as well as before arriving there.
For instance, have you checked the hostel location? Aside from convenience to local attractions, airport etc, it’s also a good idea to do a bit of research of the surrounding neighborhood. Is it safe, or known to be a bit dodgy? Check reviews!
Does the hostel offer lockers? Or perhaps a small safe for passports, money, laptop etc? Don’t forget to pack a padlock!
Is the hostel secure at night with 24hr staffed reception and/or keycard access at the main door?
Read our full guide: Are Hostels Safe? With 13 handy safety tips to consider when booking hostels.
For Hostels – looking for a new website and software?
As a hostel, your hostel website has to work like a charm and stay up to date. Interested in a new website for your hostel? Then read our guide for your own new hostel website design template.
As for software, make sure you check our articles on Cloudbeds and how to get a discount code for Cloudbeds. Cloudbeds is a popular one-fits-all software solution for hostels. It includes booking engine, property management system and channel manager solution.
Summary: Hacks and Tips for Booking Hostels
We wanted to give you an overview of the different possibilities on how to hack the hostel booking process.
Overwhelmed? We hope not. Even if this was a lot of information, this article won’t go away. You can always come back, and read it again.
As you can see there are some different approaches here. Some of them may take some time and experience. Once you have applied them, you will see how effective they can be.