Today there are several hostel booking systems to choose from, with the leading sites being HostelBookers, Hostelworld (which also runs Hostels.com), and HostelsClub. The price you pay for a hostel bed varies depending on which website you use to book it.
So which is the best hostel website with the best prices?
Update: This study and research is from 2012.
Since Hostelz.com lets users compare prices from all of the booking systems when they want to make a booking, we have all the data we need in our system to determine which hostel booking website really has the cheapest prices. So we decided to crunch the numbers to find out.
According to their website, HostelBookers claims they are 8.7% cheaper than Hostelworld.
That number comes from a 2010 study conducted by Reed Business Insight.
The study only looked at the cost of booking a double room (surprisingly not a dormitory bed) for 784 properties.
We have the data to do a much more thorough analysis, so it will be interesting to see if we reach a similar conclusion. Perhaps Hostelworld has caught up since then. HostelsClub wasn't included in their study, so who knows, they may really the price leader and just not know it because no one has done the research to find out.
We have all the data we need in the Hostelz.com comparison booking system, so let's analyze the data to find out which booking site really does provide the cheapest hostel prices available.
Data Set and Comparison Method
To perform our price comparison we did an analysis of 42,512 availability searches performed by Hostelz.com users over a 24 hour period (data recorded on February 14th, 2012).
By using actual user booking search data, this information represents an accurate sample of the prices real users are seeing from the kinds of booking searches that people perform most frequently in the real world.
Hostels and Hotels
Dorm Room Price Options
Private Price Room Options
Total Nights Stay
Average Nights Stay
We only compare prices between systems where there are matching room types (with the same number of beds and people per room).
There must be available beds or rooms of a matching room type in at least two of the booking systems for the prices for that search to be included in the results. This gives us an accurate basis for comparison.
To find the average percent of cost difference between each of the booking systems, we look at each room type for each booking request and calculate the average price for that type of room across all of the booking systems. Then we calculate the percent difference (negative or positive) between the average price and the price in each booking system (including any booking fees). The following scatter plot charts are a visual representation of that data.
These are scatter plots of the price comparison data for the booking searches for each booking system (for clarity these charts are cropped to only display bookings under $500, and price differences between 60% and -60%).
The "total reservation cost" is the full cost of the reservation for all nights requested for the total number of guests.
The lower the dots appear on the plot, the cheaper that booking system is compared to the average price found from among all of the booking systems for the reservation.
We put Hostelz.com price data in a separate chart for clarity because its data points will overlap data points from other systems.
This happens because Hostelz.com doesn't have its own booking system, instead it lets users choose the lowest price from among the other booking systems.
This is also the reason why all of the Hostelz.com data points are at negative percent values, because our system always lets users choose the cheapest price for every reservation.
There are several interesting things to notice from these scatter plots.
It is apparent that HostelBookers (red) dominates the bottom half of the graph, which means it is usually cheaper for most bookings, while Hostelworld (green) usually costs more. (HostelsClub is in yellow but is less noticeable because they have less properties in their system, so they show up in fewer booking results.)
But it's also noteworthy that there are plenty of exceptions where Hostelworld has the lowest price, and HostelBookers or HostelsClub is significantly more expensive. This is the case anywhere you see orange/yellow dots above the 0% line, or green dots below the 0% line. This shows that you can't consistently expect any one booking system to always have the lowest price. Which system will have the lowest price varies depending on the hostel or hotel, and other specifics of the booking request.
Another interesting observation is that the charts also show that it's not uncommon for reservations to be significantly cheaper (as much as 50%-60%) in one booking system verses the others.
Results: Cheapest Hostel Booking Site
When we average the calculated price difference percent for all of the booking searches in our data sample, this is the result:
Hostelworld / Hostels.com
0% (most expensive)
The results show that Hostelworld / Hostels.com (which share the same booking system) have the highest prices of all of the booking systems (resulting in "0%" average savings relative to the other booking systems).
Hostelz.com is the cheapest, with prices that are on average 10.6% cheaper than Hostelworld.
A casual reader of this study suspect these results are biased because Hostelz.com conducted the study, but it was known that Hostelz.com would result in the cheapest average cost because the site gives users the ability to choose the lowest price from among the other booking systems for each reservation.
The site doesn't operate it's own booking engine, it simply provides price data and connects users to the websites for each booking.
It's similar to a site like Kayak, but for hostel prices.
While some price advantage was expected, the data is interesting because it shows the overall average savings of using a price comparison hostel booking website verses any single booking system.
The results also show that HostelBookers users save an average of 7.8% over Hostelworld.
That percent is reasonably consistent with their claim that their prices are 8.6% cheaper than Hostelworld (considering their study used a much more limited sample set).
HostelsClub ended being a little more expensive, but still 6.6% cheaper than Hostelworld.
Part of the reason why Hostelworld costs more than other booking systems is that they charge a US$2.00 fee for each booking, while none of the others impose this extra charge. But this only explains part of the price difference, and their prices are already higher before they also add this additional fee.
What is the cheapest hostel booking site?
The answer is Hostelz.com.
The results show that Hostelz.com users save an average of 10.6% on each hostel booking they make if they use Hostelz.com instead of Hostelworld, making it the cheapest option available.
The cost savings are as much as 50%-60% or more in some cases.
HostelBookers is the second cheapest website (and is the cheapest non-price-comparison booking system website). It's followed by HostelsClub, with Hostelworld/Hostels.com being the most expensive.
Note to bloggers and media: You may use the above charts on your website or blog if you include a link back to this page. Contact us if you need additional data or information.