How easy is it to find hostel rooms in Europe?

We're going to be heading to Germany and thought it would be fun to visit some of the major European capitals. We were thinking of making use of the night trains and alternating nights between lay-down seats and bunks, thus keeping the cost closer to that of hostel rooms.

But if we get stuck in a country, especially one where we don't know the language (i.e. Hungary), how difficult would it be to find a hostel that would serve an adult and a child? Especially one where we would not have to be split up (different genders)?

I know there are sites online to locate hostels. Do I really need to contact each one to find out the policy? And what times of the year are more likely to have rooms available? I feel bad expecting people to know English in their own county so that I (a visitor) can communicate. How difficult will it be to communicate with someone if we have to find a room last-minute?

Any lessons learned from personal experience that you'd be willing to share would be greatly appreciated. Please include the month(s) you visited so that we can determine if we'd experience similar situations. Thanks.

3 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    In July and August you will have to have reservations for all 'center of town' hostels and for most hostels a little farther out.

    Weekends in April, May, June, September and October I would make a reservation too as well as the weekends with a national holiday near or in it around the year.

    You can check for hostels, and how busy they are, on sites like Hostelworld.

    If you are traveling with two, it might be as cheap and easier for the 'gender' situation to book a room in a small/cheap hotel or bed and breakfast kind of place, the same hostel booking sites often offer those.

    As a general rule, if there are only few places left or you find several hostels booked out, make a reservation for that date. If you find plenty of accommodation about 2 weeks before traveling, check again at one week before traveling but you will likely be good to go without.

    Getting a place to sleep in the city you go to is easiest if you arrive early in the day, just walk in at the tourist information office. Those people always talk some English, mostly good English, it is a job requirement and they use it often.

    In many cities the tourist information office people will also make a phone call to make sure your hotel, hostel of B&B has space for you, in other places you just get a list and should go there yourself.

    This will cost time and when you only have two days to see a city you might prefer to make advance bookings, to safe time.

    All hostels and hotels are on Internet now, most with reviews. Find a hostel or hotel and enter the name and address into Google, add review, and several will come up.

    These are to show you what they look like, you will have to do your own search to check whether they are good to use. I do not have a favorite booking site, I use the one that has the best info for the city I am searching for whenever I travel.

    You already got a good answer on your train question, one addition to that:

    The site of the German rail, in English, which can find you train times all over Europe and will show costs of tickets from Germany to most main cities.

    If you can make reservations well in advance you may find that point to point tickets will work out much cheaper than Eurail passes, specially if you want to use Couchettes in the 4 or 6 berth compartments.

    Source(s): I travel often, in Europe and farther from home, have been doing that for more than 25 years, mostly backpack by train style. And at all times of the year, but I prefer to avoid July and August.
  • Leslie
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Because of your dates (the busiest time in europe for hostels) I would suggest you reserve some of your trip, but not all so that you will have flexibility and some confidence that rooms will be availible. Personaly, I have found that in worse case scenarios, I can just get on a train and sleep if I need to, but that option is not a good one if you want to stay in the city you are at for obvious reasons. I would also say that by booking ahead you will have an address and place to go. One of the side effects of not booking ahead is that you may have to spend a day running around whatever city you are in just to find a place to stay or at the very least spend alot of time on the phone. I realize I am bringing up alot of things, but it is just to highlight the need for a little bit of both worlds both the totally free spirit and the person who has an itenery.

    For the best answers, search on this site

  • jonal
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    What an excellent answer from Willeke!

    Language isn't a problem for staying in hostels and most hotels even in Cambodia or in China

    You'll find almost every hostel in the world has at least one English speaker on the staff 24/7, plenty of English speakers staying, and everyone wants to use it.

    In Germany as in Holland the standard of English is often much greater than the pathetic efforts of some English 5th formers in what are called schools, in their ability to put a coherent sentence together with charm and good manners.

    Struggle through a couple of words and point to something

    " Err, entshoo...diggumsy bitter ..darfik err...deeza...err." and you'll likely get politely interrupted in perfect English

    "Excuse me but would you like this? Shall I wrap it for you? We have other colours"

    In India parents bring their children to meet you so you can hear how well they speak English.

    "Say something to the kind Gentleman. He is English you know."

    Even at a local cultural event for local people in Kerala in a small hall and featuring classical Indian dance the thankyou speech by the principle dancer was in English, not in the local language of Mayayalam or in another Indian language, and Indian people love using 'in' phrases with's like a 'must do' for them.

    "As an up-and-coming dancer I wish to thank the organisers of this much-heralded and locally inspired bi-monthly cultural event for giving me the so much appreciated opportunity ...etc"

    Had to smile.....

    She was a wonderful dancer. Superb.

    You'll be fine all over Europe.......there will always be help. But have a go at some local's fun trying and it's their country after all.

    Be nice to them....try to wreck the language...sorry, I mean "Speak the language"

    That's why a lot of people abroad speak in English to native English speakers..

    It's far easier, and better than totally misunderstanding poorly pronounced or wrongly-remembered words in their own language, which can be embarrassing.

    It only takes a few words to know that their English is safer than for example your Slovenian.

    Have a go shows friendship if you at least try.

    Hvala lepa Slovénie .....lePA!!

    Each hostel has it's own limitations for space so not all of them have same-sex dorms or private rooms for example.

    They are mostly organised to get the maximum bed take-up and if the only beds left are in a girls room, that can mean trade lost and a couple of guys unhappy and looking elsewhere.

    If there are no girls-only rooms that can mean a couple more potential customers looking elsewhere.

    Nowhere can get the perfect solution that suits everybody all the time.

    It depends on who's traveling around there that day and what they are looking for.....that's life.

    At busy seasons they all fill up anyway some days...check if there is a festival in town or nearby.

    Seville was booked up months ago, practically the whole city...always is for the Spring Fair...(qv)

    You have to look at what each hostel can offer and make a choice.

    Hostelworld, Hostelbookers etc are safe and reliable and on the page for each hostel that you click on you can see how easy it is to get too, what rooms they can offer, what the cost is, etc.

    Sometimes budget hotels can be cheaper and/or more convenient than hostels and you can book those on the same sites as for the hostels.

    What's wrong with Hungarian anyway? Hungarians manage OK with it .

    ..hahaha, oh the thought of it....

    I almost missed a stop on a tram in Budapest because I had no idea the word the driver spoke into the PA system was the same word I saw written on the map.

    It was nothing like!!

    Then I saw the road sign saying Chsyurhywn Ter or whatever it was ...

    .Yikes!!! This is it!! Get off quick......

    I was ready for Ferenciek Ter coming back.... I thought..... I got this all sorted now...haha.

    Then I recognised a biuilding as the tram pulled away again half an hour later and I'd been carefully judging where we were all the way back......not long now.

    Oh, noooo.....he said Frensta or something..

    .and there's the river....Ooooh, noooo......

    It was a nice walk back over the bridge, really lovely walk. Only a few minutes.

    Oh, Beautiful Budapest, never a dull moment. I love the place.

    The joys of traveling......sometimes you don't get English, but let's be fair.

    We don't do bus announcements in Hungarian either........or in Cantonese.

    Have a great time and don't worry. Always enjoy the fun, even when it goes a bit ...oh well,

    Just enjoy it.

    Oh, it was a Saturday.....St George's market was packed solid. But what a joy being there.

Still have questions? Get answers by asking now.