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I have done some traveling and I have often stayed in hostels. These are great for many reasons. One of them is meeting people that share the same mindset and that actually need to sleep at night :)

My experience tells me that you can basically find 2 types of hostels (generalizing). Travel hostels, where most people are travelers and party hostels where most people are there for exploring the night life, drinking and have a place to sleep (if needed :). It's probably not the owners desire to choose a style but it often happens that these places start slowly shifting towards one of these (and of course they are not mutually exclusive, plus travelers also like to party).

From what I've seen this mostly depends on the city (there are clearly party cities where most people are there for drinking and partying all night long), but also hostel location. Reviews often help but they can be biased, too short or ambiguous (eg.: great place; great staff; loved to stay here; had the best time; etc.)

Besides the mentioned aspects what signs should I look, online, to tell if an hostel is a "party hostel" or a "travelers hostel"?

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    Hostels that lock you out if you're not back by e.g. midnight are pretty sure the "travelers hostel" type. Otherwise, I go by reviews on hostelworld.
    – mts
    Aug 8, 2016 at 13:28
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    This is such an unexpectedly good question! I think facilities may be a starter. Does it have a bar or a library, etc?
    – Belle
    Aug 8, 2016 at 13:30
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    @mts You have a good point. I never though of that, but I actually try to avoid those as sometimes I arrive late (late flights) or I also want to have a walk at night without worrying if I am arriving 5 min later.
    – nsn
    Aug 8, 2016 at 13:30
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    One of the best hostels I have heard about (it changed before I could go) had one dorm building for those wanting to sleep early, one for those wanting to sleep late and one for those not wanting to sleep at all. And according to those who used the hostel it worked well, till new people took over.
    – Willeke
    Aug 8, 2016 at 16:07
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    @NickCardoso I can't stop smiling when I read your comment. I never knew elistism and hostel could go together in the same sentence. An hostel is probably the most democratic accommodation there is.
    – nsn
    Aug 12, 2016 at 7:48

2 Answers 2

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I'm posting this as a representative of Hostelz.com.

There definitely are some very different types of hostels, and it's always a shame when people end up in the wrong type of hostel for them. If you're using Hostelz.com, on the city page look for a drop-down menu that says "Suitable For" (just under the booking form at the top of the page). You can use that to filter the hostels by things like "partying" or "quiet rest".

Aside from that, I've found that the photos tend to be a pretty good indication, including the reviewer photos. Party hostels are almost always the ones that have at least one photo of a bunch of people smiling at the camera holding their drinks in the air.

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    So what's the Hostelz.com "suitable for partying" or "suitable for quiet rest" flags based on? How does the site know? Good call on the photos btw, another one is sometimes they'll have a social media page full of party photos Aug 8, 2016 at 19:39
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    Right now it's primarily based on hostel owners choosing the labels for their own hostel, which in some cases we may modify based on the observations of our reviewers. Eventually we'll also crowd-source it a little more to let all reviewers vote on the designations.
    – traveld
    Aug 8, 2016 at 21:13
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    +1 for a good answer and full disclosure/honesty in saying who you work for.
    – ereOn
    Aug 9, 2016 at 12:41
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I've found that reviews help, but also that on most hostel review sites, they'll mention ratings of 'atmosphere'. If that's a high rating, odds are good that it's a party hostel.

Also if they mention group tours or cheap drinks, or have a bar inside (although I've seen exceptions to that last one).

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    Atmosphere is an intersting metric. Although I tend to give a good atmosphere rating if I find places where I meet other travelers and in general the staff has a good mood (sometimes they are also travelers).
    – nsn
    Aug 8, 2016 at 13:39
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    Most hosteling International hostels in Belgium and the Netherlands have a bar, by no way all of those are party hostels, many are clearly not.
    – Willeke
    Aug 8, 2016 at 16:09
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    Does a bar mean it's a party hostel (because people can party right there) or a traveller's hostel (because, if you wanted to party you'd go to a real bar, so they're just catering for people who want a beer or a glass of wine without having to roam the streets)? Aug 8, 2016 at 16:29
  • Like I said, the bar might only be an indication - I've seen many exceptions. You can usually tell by the type of bar and the happy hour offers ;)
    – Mark Mayo
    Aug 8, 2016 at 22:48

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