Anna & Matt of Hostelgeeks may be two of the nicest people ever. Not only have they created loads of free travel resources, they are generous with their personal travel recommendations and hostel discount codes, and they answer all of their messages and emails personally. For once you feel like you are interacting with real people, not just a disembodied brand (you know what I’m talking about!)
Scroll down the Hostelgeeks homepage and you’ll find 5-star hostel reviews, city guides, travel stories, and helpful blog posts. I used their Geeky Travel Guides in every place I traveled this summer, and in Bologna I stayed at the 5-star hostel We_Bologna. Recently they featured this hostel in Granada and it looked so cool that I wanted to go to Granada just to stay there (as if I need any more reasons to go to Granada).
Matt was kind enough to send me their e-book “The Greatest Hostels of Europe” (thank you!!) and just looking through it gave me major wanderlust – the hostels are so beautiful that all of a sudden, you’re dreaming of a weekend in a new city, just so you can stay in a hostel with a rooftop pool or sleeping pods instead of bunk beds. At first, I didn’t see how much the e-book could really add to their site, since there is already so much information there. But oh, how wrong I was.
First of all, the e-book features some awesome hostels that aren’t listed on Hostelgeeks.com. It covers 77 hostels in 62 cities across 30 European countries. These include the 5-star hostels, which have to meet certain criteria to earn that badge (1. Sustainable & Eco-Friendly 2. Excellent Design 3. Unique Character 4. Social Vibes 5. Best Staff) as well as other great hostels which might not check off all five criteria, but are still really cool.
Almost every hostel features a Hostelgeeks discount code – usually 5-10% off, which adds up quickly after a few nights. I was surprised at how low the prices were, even for private rooms – I expected 5-star hostels to be more expensive but they didn’t really seem to cost more than the run-of-the-mill variety (starting prices for dorms and privates are listed, so they might go up a little in high season.) I couldn’t believe how many hostels had private rooms starting at less than 30 euros.
A few examples of 5-star hostels in Estonia, Andorra, and Germany…
I have found the e-book handy for a few reasons. When I made a new friend who was looking for accommodation in Milan, I went right to the Italy section and found two beautiful hostels, one of which was in the exact location she was looking for – boom, search over.
Each hostel has a short description of the features and location, starting prices, any discount codes, and the website where you can get more information and book a room or a bed. I’m sad that I didn’t know about all these hostels earlier – I missed out in so many places! (Guess I’ll have to go back…)
It’s also cool that there are a variety of cities featured; they’ve got the popular European capitals covered (Amsterdam, London, Prague, Copenhagen, Istanbul, etc.) but there are also a ton in less-visited countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, as well as many smaller cities I hadn’t heard of before (I’m suddenly dying to go to Haarlem and Ischia!)
Apart from the fact that all these hostels are beautifully designed and well-equipped, I like the idea of supporting a local business instead of an Airbnb that messes up the local housing economy. (I still like the convenience of Airbnb – sometimes you just want your own room, and hostel private rooms can fill up quickly in high season – but I want to be more conscious of who I rent from in the future.)
If you travel frequently in Europe and hip hostels are your jam, this e-book would likely save you time and money when it comes to accommodation. If you’re only visiting a few places and there’s no hostel listed on the Hostelgeeks website, Anna and Matt actually encourage their readers and followers to drop them a line to ask for recommendations. (I told you they were nice.)
They even agreed to answer a few questions so we can get to know them a little better. So without further ado…
Where are you guys from and how did you meet?
We are both Europeans, and we met at a birthday party on a roof top terrace in Barcelona. We exchanged numbers, met for a few dates, and here we are.
The reasons why we say we are Europeans? Mentioning specific countries of your heritage puts an idea in people’s head. Whether it is in negative nature or positive, doesn’t matter. We want to keep our brand all about the 5 Star Hostels rather than putting ourselves in the foreground.
(Note: Excellent point! I don’t like it when people see my nationality instead of me – rarely a good thing for an American – and I don’t want to make other people feel that way either.)
What made you decide to start Hostelgeeks?
Finding great hostels or accommodation in general is time-consuming, annoying, and actually really challenging. Especially for hostels, there are no fixed standards you could follow. And this leaves usually a hole.
We wanted to establish the highest standard for the hostel industry. An independent brand, putting together the world’s greatest Hostels based on transparent criteria. This is what the travelers were looking for.
What did you do before you were Hostelgeeks?
Anna studied Hotel Management and Tourism, whilst Matt studied Media and Communication. Before we started Hostelgeeks, we both worked at different companies in international fashion brands and travel.
I can tell from your site that you are coffee lovers! Are there any countries you’ve visited that stand out for their amazing coffee culture? Or can you get good coffee anywhere if you know where to look?
We think good products are not limited by a countries border. You can find delicious tapas in London, and terrible tapas at the Rambla in Barcelona. We are indeed coffee lovers, and in fact, we always keep an eye on design-conscious cafés serving good coffee.
We usually find cool coffee shops thanks to our hostels we partnered up with. And sometimes, they even have the best coffee in their own kitchen. Wallyard Concept Hostel in Berlin for instance, and We_Bologna in Bologna, Italy. Both breakfasts come with a super delicious coffee…
That being said, obviously countries like Italy, Spain, Brazil, and Colombia are fantastic spots to get your caffeine fix.
You guys have traveled so much! Do you have any favorite cities to recommend for budget travelers?
Actually, you can stay on a budget in basically every city. Even London, or Tokyo, and even Paris! Over the time you will learn how to spend your money wisely. We share as well secret tips for destinations you only get by friends. Those recommendations are always hidden gems, completely for free or on a budget.
Back to your question, if we can recommend budget travel destinations. Plenty! Just check when and where everyone is traveling, and then do not go there! Here are some budget travel destinations we love:
- Haarlem (next to Amsterdam)
- Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain
- Thailand (in general)
What’s the best part about running Hostelgeeks?
The feedback we get and people we meet! We live location independent, and are able to work with fantastic people all over the world. Our fellow travelers using our website love to tag us on Instagram, send us their feedback, and their own recommendations. We even get invites to so many different locations. This is the most rewarding and beautiful part of running Hostelgeeks.
Thanks so much Anna & Matt!!
You can get the Hostelgeeks guide to Lyon I wrote here.
Hostelgeeks gave me a complimentary copy of their e-book because they are nice like that. Opinions are all my own.