Hosteling sure has changed since the days I was bumming my way around Europe. I carried a ratty little book listing where the hostels were and counted on outdated information that was printed probably once a year at most.
You'd have to write letters to make reservations at a hostel, or just show up and potentially be shut out for the night for lack of space.
Now, at hostelworld.com you can find videos and podcasts, and ratings and prices of hostels in particular cities. You can book online. Short videos take you around the bedrooms, bathrooms and exterior of the hostel. See Athens below, for example.
Getting a little familiar with a place via video might help a solo traveler get more comfortable about going someplace new.
A hostelworld guy named Colm Hanratty also has produced six "city guides" titled "10 Things You Need To Know About (X city)" and he's done them for Paris, London, New York, Prague, Rome and Dublin. Sure, you can find all the same information, and in much more detail, from guidebooks or at other places on the Web.
But there's something charming about his take. And, again, the visuals provide a "you are there" feel that you don't get from books and still photos.
Fair warning: If off-kilter French pronunciation bothers you steer clear of his guide to Paris, in which he mangles all the French words he utters. (I haven't watched all the videos so I can't gauge his facility with Czech or Italian. And I'm sure I'd do the same in pronouncing Czech locations!)