Hostelworld in Review – How does it work? The simple Booking Process (and 4 Cons)

Hostelworld in Review - How does it work?

Hostels are becoming a more common choice for travelers, not only for those who are on a budget but also for those who would simply like to meet new people as they explore new places.

There has been an abundance of hostels and booking platforms in the past years, but in this review, we will be focusing on Hostelworld.

Welcome to our big Hostelworld review.

Let us help you walk-through everything that you need to know about the platform as well as answer some of the most common questions about Hostelworld.

Important: For actually comparing hostels prices, we recommend using It is a free to use hostel comparison website, very handy!

Read: Hostelworld App Solo Feature for Meeting People

1. What is Hostelworld?

Hostelworld is the world’s largest website for booking hostels and budget accommodations.

If you’ve researched about hostels in the past, chances are you’ve already come across their website. Their impressive list includes 36,000 properties in 170 countries.

Visit here

Hostelworld is a legitimate and reliable reference for hostels, with millions of reviews available created by the platform users and hostel guests.

A snapshot of HostelWorld in numbers:

  • Around 36,000 properties
  • 170 countries
  • Over 10 million verified guest reviews
Fresh as a coconut: Fresh screenshot from from 2024
Fresh as a coconut: Fresh screenshot from from 2024
Screenshot of Hostelworld Landing Page, back in 2022.
Screenshot of Hostelworld Landing Page, back in 2022.
Screenshot of Hostelworld Landing Page
Screenshot of Hostelworld Landing Page, back in 2019.

2. Is Hostelworld reliable?

Yes, Hostelworld is reliable and legit and it’s safe to book through the platform. In fact, it is one of the most popular websites for backpacker!

They have a safe payment gateway so there’s no need to worry about credit card details and the safety of your bookings.

Despite the website’s huge audience, they have a good system that helps them avoid overbooking and other common booking issues.

3. How to use Hostelworld?

Hostelworld is a pretty straightforward platform.

You’ll need to input your target location and dates of your travel to generate a comprehensive list of hostels. You may filter them according to their prices as well as ratings from other Hostelworld users.

Our tip on booking for best-rated hostels: make sure to check the number of user reviews. There are times when a hostel gets good ratings but from only a handful of feedback. It’s also best to read through the reviews left by other users to know which ones would really fit your preference.

The best tip still: Check our handmade guides to best hostels in each city.

We take the 3 top hostels and compare them for each type of traveler.

Looking for the cheapest hostels? If you are basing your booking through price, we recommend that you take a look at the hostel’s page to check their full price list.

Hostelworld usually displays the cheapest available rate and it’s possible that that offering might not suit what you need.

When going through your chosen hostel’s page, you will be given a chance to not only check the overall ratings but also ratings per category (character, security, location, staff, atmosphere, and cleanliness), giving you a better overview before you finally book a room or bed from the hostel’s dorm.

You can find more details in our big guide to understanding European hostels.

While they list down all necessary details like facilities, amenities, and freebies, there has been some cases where the information is different from what’s available.

Why is that?

The hostel itself can add their facilities and amenities.  For instance, when they no longer offer a breakfast, but did not update this information, well, it’s wrong outdated information.

So aside from reading through the reviews, we also suggest that you further research about your chosen hostel before going through the booking process.

Good to know: Here on Hostelgeeks we also try our best to keep everything up to date. Hostels send us their updates, but sure enough we even spotted a few times outdated information for small things like included breakfast and airport pick-up.

Facilities shown by Hostelworld

Booking Process of Hostelworld – Desktop and App

Booking through Hostelworld is easy. You can either use the regular website or download the app.

All you need to do is input all the necessary details such as :

  • destination
  • preferred property (the hostel of your choice!)
  • number of guests (only you or with friends?)
  • and number of night (with check-in date and check-out date)

Important: Please double check your booking information, so you do not end up booking a wrong date, the wrong hostel or the wrong number of nights. Always double and triple-check!

Once everything is filled out, you’ll be prompted for payment details to confirm your booking.

You will get a breakdown for what you’re about to pay, which may include a deposit and down-payment to secure your reservation.

Here you have 2 options:

  1. Non-flexible Booking – non-refundable
    Your deposit is non-refundable if you decide to cancel your booking.
    If you decide to cancel your booking, your deposit and any service fees will be non-refundable.
  2. Standard Flexible Booking
    Your deposit is protected so you can use it to make another booking if you cancel.
    For only €1.00 per guest, your deposit is protected so you can use it to make another booking within the next 6 months if you cancel. Any service fees will be non-refundable.

Please note, some hostels offer 4 booking options:

  • Free Cancellation Booking
  • Flexible Booking
  • Non-Flexible Booking
  • Non-refundable Booking

(Read more details below)

For only a small extra fee you can keep your booking flexible. This is quite reasonable. Obviously, as a backpacker and traveler on a budget, you want to save even that 1€. So our best advise would be to make the non-refundable booking for dates you are 100% certain about.

That being said, for busy dates and cities, it makes sense to go with the flexible booking. This can be cities like Barcelona, Paris, London, Amsterdam and Rome.

Non-flexible Booking and Flexible Booking at Hostelworld: Choose a deposit

For payments, you may use a

  • valid credit card
  • debit card

Hostelworld accepts

  • Visa
  • Visa Delta
  • Visa Electron
  • Mastercard
  • Switch
  • JCB and
  • Laser

Good to know: Can you pay with PayPal? No, you cannot. Hostelworld does not accept payments by PayPal.

Once you’ve input your details, your card will be charged for a deposit (down-payment) at the time of booking.

An on-screen confirmation of your reservation will be provided and must be presented to the hostel upon check-in. The remaining balance will also be included on the booking confirmation and will be in the local currency of the property.

Good to know: Some hostels include the tourist tax in the price, others don’t. Pay attention and see what kind of fees are included and what not. Typical extra fees can be:

  • Tourist Tax
  • Luggage Storage Fee
  • Breakfast extra
  • Towel not included
  • Linen not included

Please note that this has nothing to do with Hostelworld as a booking platform. The hostel itself decides if they included the services, taxes and fees in the price or not.

Payment Options at Hostelworld when booking your hostels

5. Best Price Guarantee

Did you know that Hostelworld has a best price guarantee? So even if you find a cheaper price on a different website, you can still book for that price with Hostelworld.

They state:

Best Price Guarantee
If you find a booking cheaper on any other website, we’ll refund you the difference.

And since this is an honest review, we have to say: we never use this best price guarantee! And even more: we do not know anyone who did this. I am sure it works, but question might be if you want to take this time to save bit of money.

Pro tip: It is just easier to use it is a price comparison tool. They compare, Hostelworld, Hostelsclub and other. This way you always have the cheapest rate.

Here’s the terms and conditions. Make sure you match them. Read it carefully, and take screenshots of the other offer and save the links.

If you find a booking cheaper on any other website, they’ll refund you the difference.

  • You must claim within 24 hours of the booking being made on
  • The deal must be available online at time of claim for us to verify
  • The other deal must be an exact match on room type, dates and add-ons
  • It must be a standalone booking and not part of any package or loyalty discount

You can find their best price guarantee form here.

That raises the question: Is Hostelworld the cheapest platform for booking hostels?

This is a complete honest guide and the answer is: There is NO cheapest booking platform for hostels and hotels out there. Why? Because the hostels itself decide the prices for each booking platform.

The only way to always get the cheapest price for a hostel online is But, it is not a booking platform. They just compare the price and you can then book on the cheapest website. Very simple.

It can happen that the dorms are cheapest on Hostelworld, and the private rooms are cheaper on

Therefore, you can check other prices and let Hostelworld know. They will price match and refund the difference.

Best Price Guarantee with Hostelworld

6. How to cancel a booking with Hostelworld?

This one is a bit tricky. Personally, I do not like to cancel anything like flights, hostels, accommodation, tours. There is always this annoying terms & conditions – no-one reads anyways.

How does it work with Hostelworld?

To avoid no-show or late cancellation charge, you may cancel your reservation with Hostelworld at least 24 hours ahead of your arrival date, unless otherwise stated by your chosen property.

If the 24-hour period has passed, it would no longer be possible to cancel your reservation online and cancellations after this time would be considered as late or no-show and additional charges may apply.

To cancel your booking with Hostelworld, you need to log into your account, find your booking and click on “cancel”.

Once done, the property will be automatically notified.

As for cancellation charges, this would depend on your booking and the property’s terms as stated during confirmation of your reservation.

Before, there were following options when booking:

  • Free Cancellation Booking
  • Flexible Booking
  • Non-Flexible Booking
  • Non-refundable Booking

If you have a Free Cancellation Booking, the latest time that you can cancel would be the time provided on your confirmation e-mail and is usually in the property’s timezone.

Refunds will be processed automatically but can take up to 7 working days to be processed. Cancellation must be done via Hostelworld to avail of your free cancellation.

Important: I really recommend using the “flexible booking option”. This way, in case of a cancellation you get a refund in your account. You do not get your money back, but a voucher with the same value! If you are traveling, this is basically safe money you will use anyways.

You will be able to use that voucher amount for future bookings at for a period of 6 months from the cancellation date. It then expires!

Terms and Conditions of Flexible Booking Option with Hostelworld:

I had a look at the official T&Cs. I highlight the mot important parts. Before you book, please make sure these T&Cs still apply. I try to keep this review fresh and up to date.

  1. Cancellations must be made within the cancellation period set by the travel services provider.
  2. Cancellations are only valid if processed online through your account. You cannot directly cancel with the hostel and then get the refund by Hostelworld!
  3. Cancellations by telephone or e-mail are not accepted to have your deposit back as a voucher.
  4. Vouchers will only be made available for full booking cancellations and not partial cancellations.
  5. Vouchers will be applied to your account which is identified by the e-mail address used to process your initial booking. Vouchers cannot be applied to a booking made using a different email address.
  6. Vouchers are only valid for the deposit of bookings made online at and must be used within 6 months from your cancellation date.
  7. In order to use your voucher, simply make a repeat booking on using the same e-mail address. Your voucher will automatically apply to your booking deposit once you confirm the reservation.
  8. Vouchers only apply to accommodation booking deposits. It cannot be used against other charges on including booking fees or other purchases.

How to cancel a booking with Hostelworld?

7. Downside of Hostelworld – 4 things you’ve to know

Whilst Hostelworld is a good platform, it has a few things we think you should know.

Most travelers might not bother to really think about this, but it is important for us to take a look at the other side of Hostelworld to create a more informative and complete review of their offerings.

Here it is:

  1. Not all hostels are listed
  2. Only available hostels are shown
  3. User demographics – Hostelworld vs Booking
  4. Ratings can be confusing

7.1 Not all hostels are listed on Hostelworld

Although Hostelworld have a great list of hostels, it still doesn’t list ALL hostels in the world.

And truth be told, no website has captured all hostels.

Hostelworld is close enough, we estimate they list at least 90% of existing hostel-properties worldwide.

While this is not a major concern really, it is important to keep in mind that there are good hostels and properties that may not be included in the platform. You might want to consider researching on your own as well.

Since hostels are required to sign up on these websites to have themselves listed, chances are you would not find them unless you really take the time to look for them.

Read here why some hostels are not listed at some websites.

Again, Hostelworld is a great site, but personal research can also go a long way to help you find the perfect property for you.

Read: complete guide to best hostels in Vietnam – with map

Holy Sheet Hostel is a TOP hostel for solo-travellers in Bangkok. Join their occasional pool parties!

7.2 Hostelworld shows only available hostels

When you search for accommodations on Hostelworld, or any booking portal really, you will only be shown available places for your dates.

Which makes sense, obviously, since you cannot book a hostel that is already full.

While we don’t want to confuse you, we’d also like to share some insider knowledge: hostels are the ones who control what you see on platforms.

Some hostels only add the dorms to, and the private rooms to a website like

Or a hostel may only add 80% of their availability to the booking platforms, since they keep beds free for so-called walk-ins. Sure, it is convenient to see hostels that are available on your travel dates, but it also lowers your chance of discovering great places because they are not shown on the list.

Again, further research would be beneficial and would be a great way for you to discover other properties that you might have missed because of these limitations.

The solution? I mentioned them before, and I insist you should use them. They list all hostels in the world. In fact, it is in the only website in the world which does that. How? Well, they also list hostels that are not on any booking platform. This makes it so useful.

7.3 Users are usually younger (and backpackers souls)

The main difference between Hostelworld and might be the age and type of users – and therefore the reviews and ratings.

Hostelworld is mostly used by budget travelers between 18 and 25/30 years old and backpackers souls, while is mostly used by the general, older public, capturing a larger age group from young travelers to more professional ones.

What does that mean?

It simply means reviews left on Hostelworld are usually written by younger people. The reviews and comments are from a more backpackers perspective. That is absolutely great as a backpacker, obviously.

Opinion from users may be different, and what one might find “good” as a budget traveler may not pass for more mature and/or adult travelers.

Age, budget, and general demographic is not a major concern, yet it matters. It should be something to consider when choosing a property.

Best Party Hostels in London, take Generator Hostel into account

7.4 The ratings can be confusing

Because of the difference in user demographics, ratings on the platform can be confusing for many. The average rating for a hostel on hostelworld is usually higher than that from

You will notice this with almost every single hostel as this boils down to the type of users from both platforms.

Best hostel ever“, „Epic“ and „I will be back“ are common reviews.

Yet, that does not guarantee that the same experience would be granted to other users who would book on the platform.

Again, that is not something you have to worry about, but it would be good to keep in mind.

Why are the ratings different? Well, most likely because the type of traveller is different.

Below we share 5 examples of fantastic hostels and their ratings on vs

The number of reviews is taken into account. You notice, the Hostelworld ratings are always (or at least usually!) higher, at least 0.2 points, up to 0.8 in this example below.

The People Hostel (Les Piaules) in Paris, France 8.8 8.6
The Hat Hostel in Madrid, Spain 9.4 9.1
The Central House Hostel in Marrakech, Morocco 9.4 9.1
Casa Gracia in Barcelona 9.2 8.4
Steel House Copenhagen in Denmark 9.0 8.6

Hostelworld vs Rating

8. Contact Hostelworld & Customer Service

Hostelworld is very easy to reach and has a 24/7 customer service.

Once you’ve finalized your booking, you will receive a booking confirmation via email — just make sure to give the correct one.

Do we really need to explain why?

Well, if you put a wrong email, you won’t receive your confirmation and it might be hard for you to access the necessary details for your booking. Simple, really.

9. The Hostelworld App

The functionality of Hostelworld, compacted in an app form. You can download the app directly here.

Hostelworld App shares the same features and showcases the same list and details for over 36,000 hostels and B&Bs in more than 170 countries.

Our favorite functionalities like seeing user reviews and easy sorting is also available on the app.

It is compact and free to download, with no necessary charges for reservations.

Check out here our complete review of the Hostelworld App.

QR Code to download Hostelworld App
QR Code to download Hostelworld App
Download the App for Free here

The Brand New Hostelworld App features

A Full Review of the Hostelworld App

It also accepts the same payment methods available on the website and you can easily sign in your accounts simultaneously, syncing all your details without any additional effort.

Another good feature of the app is the availability of checking nearby hostels for last minute bookings.

It also has built in maps that you could use to check nearby attractions for your chosen property.

It also has a “Hostel Noticeboard” where meetups and regular events are shared, making it easier for you to meet new friends.

Need translations? The app can translate up to 37 languages , breaking down language barriers and helping you to better understand and enjoy your travels.

Other backpacker apps we love include

Good to know: Do you have account on Hostelworld? Your bookings from a regular computer will be synchronized with your phone, better to say with your account. Make sure you login to your account; both on your phone and desktop.

QR Code to download Hostelworld App
QR Code to download Hostelworld App
Download the App for Free here

New Feature on See who else Booked and get in touch!

Book Fun Hostels at

10. Hostelworld Gift Voucher

At the moment you cannot purchase any gift vouchers for Hostelworld. We know, that is a pity, and actually could be an epic gift for travelers.

They might add this in the future. Stay up to date!

Not a membership card, but a voucher. At backstay Hostel in ghent you can buy those vouchers as a present for your travel friends.

11. Hostelworld Promo Code

We dedicated an entire page to all valid hostelworld promo codes and discounts here.

Once in a while we receive special discount codes for our readers. That includes discounts for Selina Hostels,, Get Your Guide,, and others. We list all valid discounts for hostels here.

The easiest way to get promo codes?

Subscribe to our newsletter. Here you will receive our newest hostel discounts always to your inbox. It is the easiest and fastest way.

12. Other websites for booking hostels

Hostelworld may be the biggest booking website for hostels, but there are also a handful of other platforms that you could check when doing your research.

Here’s a list of the other platforms that you could check:

  • – price comparison
  • – major platform with all types of accommodation (not only hostels)
  • – much smaller and less properties listed
  • Airbnb – sometimes hostels list their beds here

Here is a full guide to all the best hostel booking sites available online.

Good to know: Hostelgeeks is not a booking platform. For the moment being, we do not offer a booking service. We are your resource to the worlds best hostels.

Find all 5 Star Hostels only with Hostelgeeks.

The 5 Star Hostel Award, presented at The Passenger Hostels Reception

13. How to leave a review on hostelworld?

Hostelworld only accepts reviews from users who have booked and stayed at properties booked through their website.

This means that all reviews are authentic and are only created by real guests who have experienced staying at the hostels themselves.

After your stay, you will receive an email from Hostelworld, asking for your review. It is really straight forward, and done by all major platforms, like Airbnb,

The best way to leave a useful review?

Be honest and explain details!

For instance, give details about the really good stuff like a family dinner on every friday night, the Pub Crawl for 10€ every night, or the board games, the fully equipped kitchen etc.

At the same time, also give details when something was not good at all.

For instance, we once stayed in a hostel with super small blankets. These blankets are for children; not for adults. The very same hostel is actually a super cool one, one of the best hostels in Taiwan.

Your honest review helps your fellow travelers; and can even improve the hostel itself. Many, if not all, hostel owners read these reviews and comments. They even change a few things when they say it’s requested often enough.

While Hostelworld is open to receiving and publishing all types of reviews, they do not allow publication of defamatory or offensive language of any kind. This includes racial abusive, threatening and other language that they may consider offensive.

To keep the authenticity of the reviews, they also do not publish posts that were created by owners, managers, or reviews where incentives or threats are used by the management to influence their customers.

More on that matter in the next point: faking reviews – is that a thing?!

Best Backpackers in Cape Town - a fun hostel

14. Can you fake reviews on Hostelworld (and other portals)?

We often get asked: Could you fake reviews on Hostelworld and other platforms like Tripadvisor, Airbnb, and

The simple answer is: Yes, you could – in theory!

Please do not let us be naive here. Of course reviews can be faked; on pretty much any user-generated platforms and others. But, it is not easy. It costs money and it’s actually not worth it the effort.

Let me explain.

While it is commonly known that every internet user in this world can leave reviews on Tripadvisor, what about the booking platforms for accommodations?

For leaving a review on Tripadvisor, you only need an account – and then you can go crazy and review everything you want. It does not matter if you have eaten at the restaurant, had a drink at this bar or even stayed at the hotel or hostel. Tripadvisor also filters a lot of comments and deletes them if rankings get hurt. Yes, Tripadvisor manipulates its ratings!

There is also the famous case of when a young guy started to even fake a whole restaurant and made it the most popular one in all of London. Watch the video on how to fake being #1 restaurant in London.

Who can review a hostel?

You can only leave a review on Hostelworld when you have booked with hostelworld and after you have stayed in the accommodation. Meaning, without a valid booking made with Hostelworld, you cannot leave a review and rating.

“without a valid booking made with directly, you cannot leave a review and rating.”

Technically, a hostel itself could make a (fake-)booking for a night, pay the deposit of a few € or $ to Hostelworld, and then leave a review. Now, there is a cost to that and it’s quite time consuming.

Also important to know: Hostelworld keeps an eye on that. They are not stupid and after being around for years, they know how to handle these things.

Also it is important to keep in mind all the other real ratings a hostel receives anyway. So when you have your own faked rating of 9.9 out of 10, but then 800 reviews of a rating of 8 only, the fake review is completely useless.

The same goes for and Airbnb as well!

So, yes, you can fake reviews and ratings; but it costs money, lots of time, and Hostelworld keeps an eye on that. It’s such a minor thing, it’s not even worth it.

For any hostel interested in faking reviews: Better save the money and put your effort in actually making your guests happy. The better reviews will come in automatically and your revenue will grow. This shortcut of faking reviews is usually a shortcut out of business.

But be aware, dear Traveler: Instead of worrying about fake reviews, we think photos can be more misleading. Some hostel photographers take incredibly good photos. Yet, when you get to the hostel it’s not at all real. That is why: Have a look at the photos AND read the comments.

Last but not least: There is this one hostel in Sofia who bribes their guests on leaving a 10 point review on Hostelworld. If the guest agrees, then the guest receives plenty of discounts, free luggage storage and so on. Basically, this Hostel (Hostel N1 in Sofia), manipulates the Hostelworld ranking here.

And truth be told, only this way this hostel is actually top-rated. More on that topic in our guide to best hostels in Sofia.

15. Let’s wrap this up: our Verdict

Let’s sum up this review of Hostelworld.

Is Hostelworld reliable? Yes, it is reliable and trustworthy.

Is Hostelworld safe? Yes, it is very safe. The credit card is safe and your booking secured.

Can you use Hostelworld for your bookings? Yes, of course!

It really is a trusted platform with super cool hostels from around the world. Hostelworld is one of the very few websites every backpacker in the world has to know.

We hope we have covered all your questions here, and helped a bit to understand the hostel website a bit better.

Make sure you read as well our 15 hostel booking tips. Our guide to Hostels in Europe also covers a lot of basic things you have to know BEFORE staying in a shared accommodation like a hostel.

16. Our Hostel Guides with Hostelgeeks

If you are now fired up for backpacking the world even more, here’s some juicy guides you want to read. We have found gorgeous hostels all over the world.

5 Star Hostels

All 5 Star Hostels are tagged with the 5 Star Hostel award.

The hostels shown below are:

Best Hostels In – Guides

Besides the 5 Star Hostels, we also handwrite unique hostel guides to destinations.

Find all 3 Best Hostels In Guides here.

These guides will help you to find instantly the really good hostels, vetted by us. We did the leg work for you, so you can skip the time consuming research. The photos below show:

Any questions?

Wow, you are still here! This can mean you had many questions and you are by now quite a hostel geeks or you still have questions unanswered.

Like all our articles, we want to have this one as complete and useful as possible for you.

Do you have any questions left? Then please please help us to help you. Leave a comment below; we will get back to you!

Your comment and questions actually helps us to improve this guide.

Safe travels,
The Hostelgeeks


This article is a genuine guide written by Hostelgeeks. Nobody paid this guide, it is not a sponsored article. We have included a few handy affiliate links. When clicking these links, we may receive a small cut of your purchase at no extra cost for you.

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