Interview: Anna and Matt from Hostelgeeks

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One of the best things about travelling on a budget is trying to find cool design hostels! Almost like a game we play every time there’s a need to book an accommodation. As you’ve probably noticed (or it might as well be the pure reason why you are reading this article and our blog) we are always on the hunt for the next hip destinations and its most interesting cafes, restaurants and hostels. Forget about 5-star hotels! The world is changing and so is the traveler’s mindset and needs. Now we have 5-star hostels thanks to the Hostelgeeks team.

Understandably, I was thrilled to find their website!  After browsing the content for what seemed like an hour I realized that I felt almost like meeting a blogger soulmate. It is always great to find likeminded people with love for design and travelling.

Curious to learn more about the people behind the Hostelgeeks project, I’ve decided to ask Anna and Matt some question so I can introduce them to you in the best way possible. Luckily for me, they are absolutely the sweetest and jump on the idea for an interview. Thank you!

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Matt and Anna: Hi Sianna, first of all, thank you for having us. It’s an honor to be interviewed by you and your wonderful website. We are excited to see where your journey takes you.

We are Anna&Matt, the girl and guy behind Hostelgeeks, an independent website that certifies hostels as 5-star Hostels. This makes us the travelers’ shortcut to the world’s hippest hostels with character. Currently, this means autumn 2016, we are on a road trip through central Europe visiting hostels from Barcelona all the way up to Hamburg, Germany.

In December, the Hostelgeeks South-East Asia tour kicks off, starting in Bangkok at Yim Huai Khwang, the only 5 Star Hostel in Thailand’s capital. We’ll keep our readers and fellow travelers updated through our Instagram. We are always excited to meet like-minded travelers from all over the world. Simply shoot us an email whenever you are available!

And where we met? We met on a rooftop terrace in Barcelona. It was a friend’s birthday party. We talked, exchanged numbers, went on a few dates, and here we are.

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 Why hostels? How did you come up with the idea to award hostels 5 stars?

M&A: Anna studied Hotel Management and was working for an international fashion brand, while Matt worked at an online budget accommodation booking agency. Unlike hotels, the hostel industry does not have any fixed criteria or definitions. This leaves a big hole which is usually filled with a lot of marketing. This can be misleading for travelers.

We wanted to change that and introduce our fellow travelers to cool hostels, based on transparent criteria. There is no need for compromises anymore when choosing hostels as accommodation, but it is still hard and time-consuming to filter and research high-end quality hostels. This is why we wanted to create a shortcut to find premium hostels.

We present our fellow travelers with the #1 awesome hostel for their destination – simple as that! We recommend booking all 5 Star Hostels directly through the hostel’s official website. Why? This is where you can score the lowest price available. It is a simple, sustainable way to support your hostel – and of course, you save valuable pennies too! In addition, our readers benefit from 5-10% hostel discounts in our ebook “The Greatest Hostels of Europe“.

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Can you share your secret to finding the best design places and 5 star hostels along the way? Where should we start our research?

M&A: You can find all official 5 Star Hostels here. If we have not listed a 5 Star Hostel in your destination it means there isn’t one (or we simply haven’t reviewed it yet). However, we have an internal list of +800+ top hostels across the globe. Simply drop us an email with the destinations you’re interested in, and we’ll send you our recommendations.

Instagram and Foursquare are great to filter for design cafés, bars and other cool spots. Try hashtags like #coffeebarcelona, #cafelondon, and you will get plenty of results. As instagram is a photo-and video based network, you can find beautiful, design-conscious hotspots. Foursquare is also a powerful tool. Just filter your search for restaurants, bars etc, and you can get an idea of the city and its hangouts. Usually, locals use Foursquare to review their favorite places and in some destinations, the app is not overused.

Another great way to score design spots is the knowledge of the Hostelgeeks community. Whenever we travel to a destination, we love to ask fellow travelers for their recommendations and the feedback is great. The 5 Star Hostels themselves are also a big part of the community and actively recommend local spots to us. Ecomama in Amsterdam and Ani&Haakien Hostel in Rotterdam are good at this. Leave your guidebook at home and talk to the receptionists. You will love it!

Thanks to advice from the Hostelgeeks community we explored London in a different kind of way, and also enjoyed Interlaken like local. It helps a lot to have such a top-notch community! We also share our secret tips and the ones from our community through our free to download Geeky Guides – travel tips by friends for friends only.

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 What is your style of traveling? How about a dream destination? 

M&A: Slow, sustainable, and local. Oh boy, that sounds so cliché, right?  Usually, we like to travel slow and deep. As we are working on the road, or well, in hostels, cafés, and co-working spaces, we move slower so we can take our time. It helps to get a better understanding of the destination, talk to more people, find stories and take photos.

Sustainable travel means that we try not to use plastic and we support the local community, for instance. Our backpacks are 100% vegan, and eco dyed, designed and produced by TwoThirds in Barcelona. Furthermore, we support local and sustainable projects like the Clean Ocean Project and Viva con Agua. And for sure, we are always looking to work with local companies. In fact, all 5 Star Hostels have to be eco-friendly and sustainable themselves. It is one of the criterions to become an awarded 5 Star Hostel.

Dream Destination? For Anna this is Australia, and for Matt it’s Namibia.

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What is the best aspect of blogging for you?

M&A: The best aspect of blogging for us is our Hostelgeeks community itself! This feeling of reading an email from a happy, enthusiastic reader, and meeting those fellow travelers along the road. These readers can turn into close friends! It is just inspiring to see how many people you can reach, and actually, they are with you for the journey. After all, this is how, you Sianna, and we know each other right now; we are a big community and it’s brilliant!

This is why we were keen right from the first moment to actually meet our fellow travelers and readers whenever possible. The stories, connections, this positive energy, and the things we learn from travelers; this is pure inspiration and motivation for us, over and over again.

We know that you are location independent. If you can give one piece of advice to a newcomer – blogger or digital nomad, what would it be?

M&A: There are actually a few things that are hopefully useful. Follow your principals, not the money. It is helpful to have a clear idea and concept of what you actually want to offer and achieve. It makes everything so much easier for you and potential business partners.

A last recommendation is an actual quote and principal of the Superbude Hamburg, the 5 Star Hostel in Hamburg: “When you can help someone, do it”.

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As digital nomads, how do you think the digital world is changing the way we travel? Is it changing it for better or for worse?

M&A: The digital age has provided the traveler with endless possibilities. With just a few clicks you can walk around the Taj Mahal on your screen, find cheap flights to your dream destination, compare prices for accommodation, book tours… Nowadays it is easier than ever to travel. In a way, the digital age has allowed people to travel more independently, more frequently, and bloggers play a huge part in the process.

What are your plans for the future and what can we expect from the Hostelgeeks website?

M&A: Right now we are on a road trip through Europe, and in December the Hostelgeeks South-East Asia tour starts. We will be visiting more hostels, listening to more stories, connecting with more people, and trying to make Hostelgeeks better and more useful every day.

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