Generally, I book accommodation for the first night upon my arrival in a new city. After a long flight, all I truly want is to feel what it is like to sleep horizontally again.
There are many sites but I am a www.hostelworld.com fan to search for hostels in the area. Book directly with the accommodation for savings, instead of going through hostelworld.
The colourful language used when booking online can often lead to hilarity when you arrive at the hostel. Some may call it misleading or lies, I call it funny. If you really dig deep, then dig even deeper, a flicker of truth may be seen with a magnifying glass.
You were warned online that “renovations are currently being done on select areas”. You arrive after a sixteen-hour plane ride to learn the elevator is broken, the pool is more of a rain puddle and the wifi works as long as you stand across the street next to a McDonalds.
You realize the convenient “stone’s throw away” locality that sold you on the room, could only be an accurate statement if Hercules wrote the article.
The flawless pictures shown of your spacious bedroom are in fact flawed. Never forget, it is possible to cram eight people in a room meant for four. It is also possible to photoshop.
There is no guaranteed way to avoid these hostel blunders. Recommendations by other travellers are by far the most reliable. Be advised that it is the wicked people that you meet at these places which makes a particular hostel really stellar.