Is it best to book a hostel direct or on a hostel booking website?

There are many ways to book a hostel. You can book direct on a hostel's website (such as on the PLUS Hostels website www.PLUShostels.com). You can use a reputable hostel booking website such as HostelWorld.com or HostelBookers.com to make your booking. You can also just turn up at a hostel and book at reception on the day. Although the latter option usually doesn't provide you with a guarantee there will be a bed for you should the hostel be fully booked. Different people have different preferences on how they like to book their hostel, so I wanted to delve down into the main ways people make their booking and really decide which way is best.

 

Booking direct – what are the benefits?

 

Booking direct has 2 main benefits. The first is that there are no extra add-on booking fees to pay. You simply pay for what you are purchasing and that is it. Sometimes by booking on other websites that are not owned by the hostel, you end up paying these extra fees. The second benefit is that all you money is going direct to the hostel. If you are booking with an independent hostel or small-ish hostel chain, then you know that you are supporting that hostel fully – although I imagine probably you care about the potential saving more than that! :)

 

Using a hostel booking website – what are the benefits?

 

Hostel booking websites such as HostelBookers.com and HostelWorld.com (the two biggest hostel booking websites) are great for when you are booking a particular hostel for the first time, i.e. you have never stayed in that hostel before. The reason for this is that they both have great rating systems and allow past customers to leave a rating + a review. If more than say 50 people have left a review, and the overall rating is over around 75%, then you know that the hostel is going to be at least adequate for your stay. If the rating is over 90% (like some of our PLUS hostels & camp sites) then you know that that hostel is excellent! This gives you much greater confidence when booking that hostel you are staying at is going to be good. There is also further back up if for some reason you happen to book a dodgy hostel that something goes wrong with your booking.

 

It should also be noted that sometimes you can find prices that are cheaper on hostel booking websites during particular promotional campaigns, so it's always worth checking websites direct and on hostel booking websites for the cheapest price if that's what you are after.

 

Booking at reception – what are the benefits?

 

Some people when they are booking a hostel just prefer to turn up in a city and book somewhere on the day. Others like to call ahead to make a reservation and then just pay on the day. If it's a reputable hostel such as PLUS and/or you have stayed in that hostel before (so you know it's a good place that it not likely to mess you around with bookings you may via telephone) then I don't see any problem with doing this. Also, if you need to book a hostel very last minute, i.e, on the day you are arriving then this is sometimes your only option if you don't have access to the internet etc, but in my personal opinion I'd always recommend going with options 1 or 2 on this list. That is – booking direct on the hostel website or using a hostel booking website.

 

The main reason is that you'll get an official confirmation email of your reservation so if for some reason the hostel messes up your booking you have something to fall back on, and secondly booking on the day in some hostels is usually more expensive. They'll give you the “on the door prices” in most cases instead of the sometimes discounted online prices.

 

So what do you think? Which is your preferred method of booking and why?