In 2015, I stayed at The Art Factory Hostel in the San Telmo area of Buenos Aires. Upon first glance, the place seemed balanced. It was in a great location, advertised plenty of activities and it maintained a four-star review.

But, as soon as I checked into a dorm room (at 2:30 in the afternoon), I realized I might be in for a wild time. It was an eight-bed room, and five had younger guests were sleeping off a night of partying.

Choosing a hostel, wild and crazy, or chilled out and relaxed?

"No problem," I thought, "I don’t come to hostels to hang out in my room." So, I signed up for a dinner that included all-you-can-eat asado and wine and then departed for some sight-seeing.

I returned around nightfall and the hostel bar opened. I grabbed a beer, and relaxed at a table, and was soon joined by other travelers. But, after another hour, the place turned into a giant Party scene. Guests crowded the bar for beer, wine, and cocktails, the music was blaring. I enjoyed my asado and wine dinner with others, and the party atmosphere; hey, it was a Friday night!

At midnight, the party ended due to a neighborhood noise regulation. Most of the revelers departed for one of the many bars and clubs in the neighborhood. At six in the morning, most came stumbling back, loud, drunk and ready to crash.

I went to bed as the younger guests were heading out, and had a decent amount of sleep while they were partying.

But I was not a fan of waking up at six in the morning to the sound of drunks!

I had an early flight the next day, so that morning, I checked out a day early. I found a modest, but comfortable hotel around the corner. I needed some peace, quiet and rest.

How do you know what the hostel atmosphere is going to be like in advance?

Read the reviews. Look for keywords like party and noise. Are there a significant number of reviews about the party scene? Are there complaints about the noise levels? Check sites like, Google, and Yelp.

Check the location of the hostel.

Is it cheap and within walking distance to major party areas of the city? Most likely, the guests have come to party. If that's what you're into, go for it! If not, try looking a little further away. These hostels are going to be less likely to be noisy and have an older, and/or more mature crowd. If you want to party, you can always take a cab.

Check out the website of the hostel itself. Pay close attention to how it markets itself. For instance, I stayed in the Palm Tree Hostel in Medellin, Colombia in 2010. It was a relaxed place, with a diverse range of guests from young to old, solo, groups and couples. It was not a party hostel but still managed to show a good time on a Saturday night with a cookout.

Its website markets it as a having the "warmth of home,"calm" and "clean." This hostel was also across town from Parque Lleras, the party area of Medellin. So while some of the guests liked to party, most were more relaxed.

If you're looking for a party atmosphere, you'll see pictures of young people drinking and dancing. If you're looking for a more relaxing atmosphere, you might see pictures of people relaxing, or a more diverse grouping of people.

Contact the hostel. When in doubt, feel free to email or call the hostel directly and inquire about their atmosphere. Most want their guests to have a good experience, and if a party atmosphere is not what you're looking for, they'll tell you.

Hostels are a wonderful way to experience travel on a budget. They're a great way to meet new people and then rest your head at the end of a long day. Just make sure you're choosing the one that is the best fit for your style: party or relaxed!