By SHANNON KELLY
Considering a hostel but not sure where to start? New Web site Hostelzoo is an excellent tool for comparing hostels, with lots of images and information about each property—all laid out in easy-to-read grids. More than 40,000 hostels around the world are indexed (direct quote: “Every hostel in the world that is available to book online is listed on our site.”), with more than 400 in Canada.
The key to the site is the hostel comparison tool, which allows you to filter by basic criteria like price and location as well as more specific filters such as private rooms, breakfast, Internet access and air-conditioning. It lays out your top choices in a chart showing prices and availability for the dates you’re travelling (you can even see how many rooms or beds are available). Hostel locations are viewable on an interactive map.
Because the site consolidates information from four of the largest hostel booking sites—Hostelworld, Hostelbookers, Hostelsclub and GoMio—you can read reviews and get ratings from those well-established sites and link to one of them to book.
It’s not perfect. It would be nice if you could click on hostels from the map and automatically add them to your comparison chart. And when you switch between grid, list and map views, your filters aren’t preserved—the options are reset. We also would have liked to toggle between the list or grid views and the map. And we noticed a glitch or two, such as a hostel whose description indicated that they have free continental breakfast, but the “breakfast” filter wasn’t checked.
Overall, though, we found the site fairly simple to use with lots of great features—and even fun to just browse, if you’re looking for pictures of swanky hostels around the world that look nothing like your average dorm-room dive.