I’m constantly asked by others where I stay while I travel, and the answer is hostels. (I swear, it’s nothing like the horror movie). Not only are hostels more budget-friendly, but they usually have affordable tours and are filled with knowledgeable staff who can help you get to your next leg of the trip. My favorite part is the opportunity to meet other travelers from all over the world. Hostels host social events such as pub crawls, hikes, and sangria making class!
Not the social type? No problem – you can book an affordable private room and do your own thing but still stay on a budget.
I love the different themes and decor that range from tropical beachy to super sleek and modern. Plus, you can’t overlook the amenities provided. Usually a free modest breakfast and Wi-Fi are included. After traveling through 40+ countries and going through many hostels, here are my absolute favorite ones in the world:
Caledonian Backpackers (Edinburgh, Scotland)
This was the first hostel experience ever so I made sure to book one with good ratings to get a positive experience out of it. I didn’t know how I would meet people and what I was supposed to do after check-in! After hopping off an overnight bus, I arrived to the hostel early in the morning where the staff showed me to a free but simple breakfast consisting of yogurt, fruit, toast, cereal, milk, coffee and tea. The large common room was filled with couches and seats surrounding a bar that felt cozy and laid back. There was also a computer room for email and internet access, which I utilized for local travel research. They also organized a free walking tour where I had the opportunity to meet other travelers. Overall, Caledonian Backpackers was a solid place and great for my first hostel experience.
Update: Sadly, it looks as if this hostel is no longer in business.
Archi Rossi (Florence, Italy)
One thing you have to know about me is that I love food. Most places offer a typical modest breakfast with just toast, cereal, coffee, and tea. But Archi Rossi had a full-blown buffet filled with hot and cold items. I couldn’t believe my eyes. They also offered their popular free walking tour, guided by a local who introduced us to her favorite gelato place (I’ve yet to find another gelato shop that bests it). There is also a lovely outdoor garden terrace where people can relax. In terms of social activities and atmosphere, it was subpar. However, the hostel’s close location to the train station, the amazing breakfast selection, and its walking tour makes it worth it.
Greg and Tom (Krakow, Poland)
Krakow is a fairly small town so most hostels are relatively close to the train station, restaurants, bars, and nightlife. Greg and Tom hostel isn’t huge which makes it easier for the amazing and kind staff to get everyone together for their complimentary hot breakfast AND dinner (say, what?!), thus creating a social and relaxed atmosphere. There’s an activity every night and they offer affordable organized local tours. The staff is attentive to guests who prefer to be on their own. Stay here if you want to get some rest and sleep. Greg and Tom has a sister hostel (Greg and Tom Party Hostel) which is known for – you guessed it – their parties. Stop by there for some fun, and afterwards, retire to the quiet and comfy Greg and Tom’s Hostel.
Eighty8 (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)
This felt more like a hotel than a hostel. There’s a pool alongside their open-concept common area which acts as a casual restaurant & bar. Here travelers eat, drink, read, play pool, swim, and hang out away from the hot sun. The rooms are very clean and they prepare your bed every day (which is rare to see in the hostel world). The location is a bit away from the city centre so there’s not much to do in the area, but a cheap tuk tuk ride can fix that. When I visited, they didn’t offer breakfast, however, after checking the hostel’s page, it looks like they now offer a free all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet! Overall, it’s a good place and value for money.
SacLo Homestay and Hostel (Hoi An, Vietnam)
This hostel has only 10 beds. An unspoken perk to super small hostels is that it’s easier to get to know your neighbors. What makes Saclo Homestay and Hostel amazing is the two lovely young ladies (with their small dog named Lulu) who run it. Their wonderful hospitality is why the place is usually booked up. The place is super clean and relaxing. The ladies cook a hot breakfast, take everyone out at night when they are free, and help you with getting around or booking a tour, taxi, or bus. The location isn’t central but it’s just a 15-20 minute walk from town, and there’s always the option to rent a bicycle from them for $1 USD/day.
Frendz Resort and Hostel (Boracay Island, Philippines)
After a flight from the city of Manila, a 1.5 hour bus ride, and a ferry ride, I finally reached Boracay Island. This hostel is just steps from the white sandy beaches. The hostel also has their own small area of reserved chairs and sofas for their guests to lounge at the beach. It was a bonus convenience that allowed socializing with fellow hostel guests. You also had the option to bill your hostel room when ordering from the local restaurants and rental equipment shops for easy payment at check-out. No need to carry around your money if you’re staying nearby! Their snorkeling/sailboat day trip (lunch and unlimited drinks) was fun and was an amazing way to hang out with everyone – I highly recommend it! Cleanliness was fair, as it’s always hard to prevent sandy floors when you’re in a beach area. The only downside to this hostel was the lack of air conditioning so it was difficult for me to get some sleep with just fans. However, it looks like all the rooms are now equipped with air conditioning!
Green Tortoise (Seattle, Washington State)
Green Tortoise’s number one selling point is its location and social activities such as pub crawls and walking tours. This hostel is directly across the street from the famous Pike Place Market. Each bed featured a privacy curtain for some personal space when I wanted to catch up on some reading. Bonus, there was a bed lamp. There’s a fairly large kitchen for guests, as well as a large lounge area.
USA Hostels (San Francisco, California)
This was probably the most expensive hostel from my experience. Priced at $50/night, you can’t expect a city like San Francisco to be budget-friendly for travelers. There were hostels that were cheaper for just $5-$10 but their ratings were terrible. When I walked in my room, I knew this place was created by a fellow traveler. The little touches and attention to detail such a small partition along the bed for some privacy, bedside lamp and shelf for your small belongings, lockers with outlets inside so you can charge your electronic gadgets safely without worrying if someone is going to steal them – are all things many hostel owners overlook. The breakfast they offer is a bit more than the usual – including fresh fruit, bagels, oatmeal, and pancakes. After breakfast, you can join their free walking tour of the city. There’s a spacious floor where people can socialize, play card games & pool, and enjoy wine and cheese nights. They have a yoga room, a movie theatre to watch your favorite hits, and a book room where you can read on travel or research it on their computers.
Ringos Foyer Guest House (Melaka, Malaysia)
Located close to the Jonker Night Market, Ringos is a good yet low-key place to stay in the small city of Melaka. The social area includes a relaxing rooftop patio and the main floor with books, games, and TV. A couple of major updates have been added since I’ve stayed there: air conditioning(!), free breakfast, and nice private pod style bed with privacy curtains instead of just a typical bunk bed. One thing that still remains popular with guests is their sunset bike tour. Everyone rides a bicycle together with the hostel owner to a local outdoor market where manly locals go. I bought some clothes there for only $3! Food was very inexpensive ($1-$5) and you bring it all back to the hostel to eat for dinner.
Suites DF Hostel (Mexico City)
There are plenty of rooms at Suites DF Hostel, but its small common area is what makes it feel cozy. Located within walking distance from the metro station and fairly central to the town center, it’s an optimal spot to get around this huge city. The exceptionally warm and friendly grandmas come in the morning to cook a Mexican breakfast, which is a nice change from the usual toast and cereal that you get. The hostel is conveniently close to a ton of taco stands, bars, and restaurants. They offer a free walking tour, trips to see the Aztec ruins, and the Nacho Libre wrestling nights where you get a souvenir mask and free drinks at the hostel before you see the entertaining show (highly recommend going on a Friday night)!
As you can see, hostels aren’t too bad at all! I always use Hostelworld to find one – and you can filter out your choices based on other people’s ratings such as security, cleanliness, atmosphere, price, location and more! They also list hotels and bed-and-breakfast places as well. I personally book for or six bed dorms or private if I need some alone, me – time. I hope these tips will help you on your next trip and prove that hostels aren’t scary, dirty, and uncomfortable as many people may think!
Where are some of your favorite hostels in the world?