London has always been my Marmite city. Except that I really love Marmite. But when it comes to London I either love it or I hate it, and when it came to booking a hostel for a week’s stay in London, I started to hate the city some more.
For a budget traveller, London is expensive. Thinking it might be nice to get a private room for a change, my research began to throw me hostels at £50+ a night and I started to get more and more frustrated! A few weeks ago a couple who are also in London for the same event told me they had booked a no-frills bare hotel room as for two it was cheaper than two hostel beds or a private room in a hostel. So…
Do We Need To Discuss Hostel Prices in Europe?
When I started to consider the London prices, a few of my friends had to deal with my ranting and raving about hostels no longer supporting the budget traveller. The way I saw it, the industry that is supposed to make travel more accessible to a budget youth was taking advantage of location to rinse money from them. And yes, hotels have done this for years, and hostels are still businesses that need to make money, but come on!
Similarly, hostels seem to take full advantage of events in their city to bump up their prices. A prime example here would be Oktoberfest but it’s a little too far away to check prices, so I’ve gone with St Patrick’s Day on the 17th March in Dublin. A quick Hostelworld/Hostelbookers search here showed perfectly the issue I have with the hostel prices. A simple dorm bed during the month of March in Dublin seems to average at around £12-£15. The weekend of St Patrick’s day showed an increase of around 250% in hostel bed prices!
It’s just a bed!
Later in the week I was discussing the issue with a fellow hostel traveller, who made a very good point. Travellers can choose whether or not to go to specific cities around these dates. And he was right – it is our choice whether to fork out for St Patrick’s day in Dublin or ignore the event by tucking away in a small French village. Essentially, the problem with increasingly high hostel prices surrounding national and international events highlights the importance of travel planning.
How To Plan Around The Hostel Prices
1. Most hostels tend to organise their pricing structure according to customer behaviour. This process is called yield management and leads to higher prices during peak tourist seasons according to their specific location. For example, European countries will increase prices in the summer, when the weather is best and tourism is high, for international holidays such as Christmas or St Patrick’s Day, and for events such as Glastonbury and Oktoberfest. 2. Larger cities, such as London and Paris, tend to receive a higher influx of visitors year-round, and so will always run with a higher pricing strategy.
1. If you are planning a long trip, decide in advance which events are most important to your experience and which your budget will allow for. If possible, book your hostel in advance!
2. If you aren’t bothered about spending extra to attend a certain event or be in a busy city for a certain occasion, plan your travels so that you keep a wide-berth of those locations with the higher prices!
3. In 2013 WeHostels published a great overview of the pricier locations for hostel travel: their World Hostel Price Index. Hopefully, they will update their 2013 version, but it’s not too out of date that it can’t be used for research!
4. Consider hostel discount membership scheme. So far, few hostel chains offer memberships, but the following are a couple to consider:
- Hostelling International offer a membership scheme that provides discounts in the majority of their hostels worldwide.
5. Consider whole room bookings. Some hostels now offer private rooms with anything from 4-10 beds and often the price of the whole room divided can be less than buying individual beds. Whilst perfect for groups, it’s worth considering if you meet a few people in one hostel and are all considering moving on to the next destination around the same time.
When it comes to the hostel prices, sometime other options can appear cheaper, but if you love hostels as much as I do and you are keen to continue your hostel travels, hopefully the tips above can help!
Lots of love,