Looking for inexpensive, decent hostels in Italy.
July 6, 2011 11:07 PM   Subscribe

Traveling to Italy/Paris in the middle of August and looking for hostels.

I will be traveling to Italy in the middle of August and I am looking for Hostels in Rome, Venice and Florence. I have scoured the usual sites (hostelbookers, etc) but I am weary of the reviews posted. I am looking for relatively inexpensive hostels ($15-$30 USD) a night. Please recommend any hostels that you have stayed with. Ideally, I would like a hostel with a locker. I could care less about the condition of the building, although I wouldn't complain about a well-furnished hostel. I will be in Italy for roughly 3 weeks, and I am debating what is the best option for me to take a 3-5 day trip to Paris in between. I am curious to know what railroad option is the best and most affordable. I would also like to know who makes the best maps for traveling around Europe (I have a Steves, but am interested to know if there are better) Finally, what are your suggestions for taking trains from Italian city to city? Should I book ahead of time? Thank you so much. Please feel free to throw in any other comments or suggestions on my upcoming trip.
posted by AMWKE1984 to Travel & Transportation around Italy (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
For info on trains, see The Man in Seat 61. It's easy to buy tickets either at the station or online. Given that you're travelling at the height of summer, buying in advance might be a good idea, though I'm sure someone else can give more specific advice on that.

Hostels: no specific advice, I assume you've tried hostels.com and hostelworld.com? I wonder if $15-30 is a bit optimistic, though? That's only 10-21 euros/night, you might struggle to find something good at that price.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:09 AM on July 7, 2011

My favorite maps are made by Borch. If you don't have time to map shop city by city (for example, I'm not crazy about their NYC map), I'd say they're a good bet. (They also make Europe-wide and rail maps).

Trenitalia is fairly user friendly.

I can't help with the hostels but I can say that I've had an amazing time and met super people couchsurfing in Italy, and it might be worth a shot.
posted by Salamandrous at 7:36 AM on July 7, 2011

I visited Paris and Venice in my recent trip through Europe with a similar budget. You should know that your range for hostels is not "relatively inexpensive" but "extremely cheap but possible." I recommend using hostelworld for finding a hostel in your price range, but book directly through the hostel's website or by phone. Try contacting them even if hostelworld says they're full because they reserve only a certain number of beds for online bookings.

Hostels in Venice close to the downtown area are crazy expensive - double or triple your price range, on average - so I stayed here which was okay. Their rooms are like little trailers, which was fine, and their restaurant is really good. It's a little tough to get back an forth from the main area of Venice, and you have to pay for the shuttle they provide. With your budget, a hostel a little outside the center with transport in may be your only option. For some reason "camping" hostels seem to be pretty big near Venice.

I wouldn't worry too much about pre-booking trains in Italy. Just go to the train station when you get there and talk to an agent. The online train sites are difficult to navigate and don't always have full information.

As for your trip to Paris, the train might not be the way to go. It took two travel days for us to get from Paris to Venice (with a stopover in Nice). If you do go by train, try to get an overnight trip to save time and the money you'd otherwise spend on a hostel. Also, check out flights. Some inter-Euro airlines are super cheap. Skyscanner is good for finding these. I stayed here in Paris and it was very nice, though the most expensive hostel of my trip. You can't get much cheaper in Paris.

Enjoy your trip!
posted by rabbitbookworm at 1:12 PM on July 7, 2011

First things first. I was in Italy back in April, and hostel prices per person per night hovered between 20-30 Euro a night. And this was in the shoulder season. You simply will NOT find a bed for anything like $15 USD per night anywhere in western Europe during the summer. You need to either drastically scale back your trip* or consider couchsurfing.

In Venice I stayed at A Venice Fish. It's dank and weird, but the location is great, and I'd chalk the dankness up to "atmosphere" anyway.

I agree with rabbitbookworm about Italian trains and pre-booking. That said, keep in mind that you're traveling between the three most tourist-packed cities in Italy in the height of the high season.

Frankly, if I were you I would scrap the whole trip and rent an apartment for three weeks in Berlin or Budapest.

*If I were you, I'd choose one region of Italy and travel slowly through it. Or, heck, even "the north" or "the south". This will make train travel a million times easier and will probably lighten your hostel budget - if only because it'll make it much more likely that you'll find couchsurfing hosts. It will also be way more fun and less stressful considering the time of year.
posted by Sara C. at 7:14 PM on July 7, 2011

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