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Is there a site such as kayak, but for hostels instead? There's so many different hostel booking websites, I don't even know where to start.

If there isn't such a site, what is the recommended course of action on finding and booking the most suitable hostel? (Suitable to mean what's needed for one's own needs.)

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DuckDuckGo could provide something like that. –  smonff Sep 24 '13 at 18:25

7 Answers 7

up vote 6 down vote accepted

No, not if you need anything near completeness

The other answers list some sites, but those are very incomplete. For example, the Swedish Youth Hostel association members alone has 2–3 members in Kiruna, one in Luleå, one in Umeå, all can be booked online through webforms or e-mail. None of the search engines listed in other answers list any of those, and no youth hostel I have ever stayed in is.

My only recommendation is to search specifically through the web, through tourist office websites, or through country-specific websites. Norway has the extensive Reiselivsdatabasen (includes many categories of accommodation, including one for youth hostels and similar low-budget backpacker style), in Sweden many — but not all — youth hostels are a member of the Swedish Youth Hostel association, and otherwise, it depends per country. Perhaps the search engines are particularly incomplete for Sweden and Norway and more complete for other countries or larger cities — I have not made a thorough study. You might find something through them, but do not conclude from a lack of results that there are no hostels.

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if we expand to non-strictly hostels, there is another related question : travel.stackexchange.com/questions/10390/… –  Vince Sep 24 '13 at 13:42
    
Is there any strict definition for a hostel? –  gerrit Sep 24 '13 at 13:44
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good point. To me, a hostel has dorms, or at least more shared facilities than hotels or even bed and breakfast. Motels, hostels, inns is generalized to accommodation to me. But I agree with your answer, in general in the accommodation business, a big issue so far is to aggregate the most places into search engines databases. So even meta-search engines do not include all or even most of the hotels/accommodation places. –  Vince Sep 24 '13 at 13:50
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@Vince Hm, I've stayed in AMI Hotel in Tromsø which had dorms and a shared kitchen but called itself a hotel, and I've seen several hostels where one can choose to book a private room. I think there's a whole continuum ranging from a Matratzenlager to (apartment) hotels. –  gerrit Sep 24 '13 at 13:52
    
@hippietrail Right. I don't claim to have done a scientific study into the completeness of this search engine. –  gerrit Sep 24 '13 at 16:44

In fact there is one - I don't think it's very well known though. It's been around no more than about a year or two I think.

hostelzoo - Search and Compare Hostels / A free hostel price comparison tool

Here are the claims they make on their front page:

Hostelzoo is the world’s largest marketplace for hostels.
We offer a free search and comparison service to our customers allowing them to book the right hostel at the best price.
Every hostel in the world that is available to book online is listed on our site. We utilise the booking engines Hostelworld, HostelBookers, HostelsClub and Gomio to provide the most comprehensive listing available.
Hostels, Backpackers, Youth Hostels and Budget Accommodation, if they take online bookings, they can be found here.

Disclosure: I'm not involved in this project but a former employer of mine is.

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Seems very incomplete. I've tried two towns where I know two hostels in each (Kiruna, Sweden and Narvik, Norway) and both towns are not listed at all, leading to a score of 0/4 for hostels I know in my area. They claim that Every hostel in the world that is available to book online is listed on our site. This claim is demonstrably incorrect. –  gerrit Sep 24 '13 at 13:09
    
I searched a bit more, and there are in fact more hostels in both towns than I was aware of, leading to a score of 0/10 or 0/17 depending on how one calculates. –  gerrit Sep 24 '13 at 13:30
    
Hmm I have played with it while I wasn't travelling but haven't actually "used" it. I might have a look at it again now ... But to show that it's demonstrably incorrect you have to demonstrate it. Which hostels are they and by which means are they available to book online? –  hippietrail Sep 24 '13 at 14:10
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For example: Spor1 Narvik through e-mail, Yellowhouse Kiruna through webform. Kiruna Vandrarhem through e-mail, Luleå Kronan through webform (these three are also part of the Swedish youth hostels association SVIF), Luleå Vandrarhem through webform. Dozens of places can be booked through SVIF but are missing on hostelzoo –  gerrit Sep 24 '13 at 15:32

Fogg is a semantic metasearch engine for accomodation.

The semantic bit means you type your complete search like on Google rather than clicking on menus like in Kayak.

Search for cheap hostels in barcelona to filter results by cost:

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Search for central hostels in barcelona to filter results by distance:

enter image description here

Currently the search engine works best for hotels, but I understand the Fogg team is working to improve support for hostels.

I work for Skyscanner, a travel search engine, and we just acquired Fogg. By next year Fogg's service will be part of the Skyscanner brand. I may have to edit this answer soon!

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Here is a short list of the most popular sites to book hostels, but I don't know of meta-search websites, as there are not that many search engines:

Note that not all hostels are listed on all these sites, usually. Also note that the last three websites are all owned by Web Reservations International, that might explain why there is no meta-search engine.

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boo.com is easy to remember.... –  MeNoTalk Sep 24 '13 at 18:55
    
Yes HostelWord acquired HostelBookers this year or last year but have not integrated the two as of yet. –  hippietrail Sep 25 '13 at 11:42
    
Of course none of these are "metasearch engines" as the OP is looking for. –  hippietrail Oct 2 '13 at 17:57

Hostelz.com is the metasearch engine for hostels.

It combines information from Hostelworld, Hostelbookers, Hostels.com, Gomio, Hostelsclub, Priceline, and HI Hostels and lets you search for available beds and compare prices from all of the booking sites at once, and also shows you how the hostels are rated in each of the sites. It also lists hostels that aren't in any of the booking websites, and includes directly contact info for the hostels (which the booking sites also don't offer). It also has both user reviews and professional reviews (with photos). The site has been online since 2002.

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I actually find that on booking.com, when you do a search, you can choose between:

  • hotels
  • hostels
  • apartments
  • guesthouses
  • b&bs
  • vacation rentals

So as long as you check that, it'll search a variety of hostels as well.

However, personally I still find:

are the main three that find anything worth finding, in my experience.

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Hostel World is a very good site. I have used it numerous times over many years and it seems to be the site of choice for many people I have met that also travel extensively.

http://www.hostelworld.com/

Paul Safier

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But it's not a hostel meta search engine, it's just a regular search engine. A meta search engine is one that uses multiple other sites just like SkyScanner searches for flights offered by multiple airlines. –  hippietrail Oct 2 '13 at 17:56
    
Ah, my apologies, hippietrail. However, I think you'll find this site the best; forget about comparing others... :) –  Paul Safier Oct 2 '13 at 18:44
    
No worries but as it's already mentioned in two of the other answers we already knew about it too (-: Anyway it's not always the best, often HostelBookers will have the same hostel at a lower price, or will have a hostel that's not listed on HostelWorld. –  hippietrail Oct 2 '13 at 18:50

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