Hostels are great places to stay if you are a budget traveler around Europe. Reasons are as follows: cheap, usually good locations and atmospheres, and fun places to meet other travelers.
How do you find a hostel?
There are a couple of great websites I have used many times before and have had great successful bookings. I have used Hostel Bookers and Hostel World to search for hostels which usually have similar results. Filters can be used such as how much money you want to spend each night, rating, and neighborhood of the city you are looking at. There are reviews to help in choosing, which can be both helpful and misleading. If you find a place that you are interested in booking, look at the hostel's direct site (if applicable) to see if they offer a better deal than through the search engines.
What do hostel amenities include?
Hostels include a bed. Other than that, each establishment is different. Look at their individual amenities because some hostels charge for linen, towel, and locker. Some hostels may even provide breakfast or other meals for FREE. Take advantage of that perk if the hostel suites all of your other needs. Hostels might have social events, a bar, other food options, and a kitchen that you can use during your stay. Again, read each hostel and what they provide since each place is totally different from the next one.
What type of hostels are best to stay at?
That depends on the type of traveler you are. Do you want to be in the center of it all in the city that you are visiting? Do want to walk or talk public transport? Do you want a specific neighborhood? All of these questions truly depend on traveler preferences.
I like to be near the things that I would like to see most and I like walking loads around the cities I visit. Many hostels are located near local sights, or just a little longer walk away. Look at a map, usually provided when searching, where the hostel is in relation to what you want to do. If a hostel is far away, factor in what you would pay for public transport if your budget is right.
Rooms vary in occupancies. There are rooms with sometimes 10+ people, so those are cheaper as well as provide more connections. There are also private rooms available at some hostels and those are usually the most expensive option at the hostel. I usually try for 4-6 people in a room if I am traveling by myself since it's not too many people to deal with and the price is usually aligns with my budget. If I am traveling with one or two friends, I usually get a private room or again a 4-6 person room depending on price.
Best and favorite hostels:
Bulldog Hotel - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Czech Inn - Prague, Czech Republic
Generator Hostel - Venice, Italy
Oops! Hostel - Paris, France
Pangea People Hostel - Berlin, Germany
Seven Santi - Florence, Italy
Vienna Hostel Ruthersteiner - Vienna, Austria
Youth Hostel Oia - Santorini, Greece