Recently I polled my friends regarding the one word they associated with hostels and got responses like cheap, dirty, minimal, scary, fun, youth and homicide. If you’ve never stayed in a hostel and the word only conjures up negative images of partying hippies and the gruesome Tarantino movie with the same name, I’m sorry. As someone who’s stayed in hostels around the US, Canada, and Europe, I’m here to tell you they are not death traps! The ones I’ve stayed in have been fun, easy on the budget, and full of opportunities to make new friends from around the world. Below are a few of my favorites – if you’re a hostel newbie, these places would all be a good way to get your feet wet.
- Red Emperor Hostel – Tallinn, Estonia
- Fun, video game vibe with a lively bar area, pool tables, and live music.
- Australian-run – All the staff were so friendly and you even get a free welcome drink upon arrival.
- Super clean – there were plentiful bathrooms and the coed showers had locking individual doors. I know, coed showers sound scandalous but it’s just the standard setup in most smaller hostels.
- Large shared kitchen with freshly baked free cookies for everyone. Score!
- My husband and I booked a private room but they also have plenty of shared bunk room options.
- Walkable to almost everything in Tallinn.
- Noise level – fairly loud and great for socializing.
- Eurohostel – Helsinki, Finland
- Larger hostel that feels a little more like a hotel
- Friendly staff and a lot of brochures in reception on things to do in Helsinki
- Immaculately clean -restrooms and showers were separated into male and female areas. Nothing was coed.
- Our private room had two twin beds and a desk – basic but sufficient for our needs.
- Free morning sauna was amazing!
- Breakfast buffet was extra, but it had a good variety of things to choose from.
- Only a few steps from the tram stop that lets you access all of the city.
- Noise level – extremely quiet – not much socializing here, but perfect for a calm place to stay.
- Maverick City Lodge – Budapest, Hungary
- Ultra-modern decor, with a hipster vibe
- Free lockers in the rooms
- Each bed has its own drape curtain and reading light
- I stayed in a 6 bed mixed bunk room as I was solo on this trip
- Walking distance to most things in the city and some cool Ruin Bars
- I was getting over jet lag during most of my stay here and didn’t hang out much, but they had multiple social activities available to meet other travelers.
- The free wi-fi worked well and reception was helpful in giving me a map of the city to explore on my own
- Noise level – moderate – there was some noise from the bars down the street when the windows were open but I didn’t have any trouble sleeping.
- Olive Tree Hostel – Bari, Italy
- Friendly staff that made me feel completely at ease as a solo traveler.
- A short taxi ride from the port (walkable from the train station). I came here via ferry from Croatia as it was cheaper to fly home from Italy than from Croatia.
- Breakfast was included in room rate which was a steal at only 18 Euro per night!
- Walkable to many restaurants and sites in Bari. My favorite was Frulez, a healthy cafe that I ate at several times during my stay.
- The staff did my laundry for a very nominal fee.
- I stayed in an 8-bed mixed dorm room and met some interesting people who had just come from Oktoberfest! They also have some private rooms available.
- Noise level: quiet – it was a full house in our room but everyone was just sleeping or reading most of the time.
Maybe you won’t be in Europe anytime soon but you still want to explore the world of hostels? You’re in luck. I have a great hostel I can recommend in the US!
Notso Hostel – Charleston, South Carolina
- A beautiful old house converted into a hostel. I love the rocking chairs on their front porch. They also have an annex location.
- I’ve stayed here twice and loved it both times. Bread/bagels and cereal are provided for breakfast, free of charge.
- Not walkable to downtown Charleston, but they have free parking.
- Their private themed rooms are fun. I’ve stayed in the Austria room in their back yard building and the Scrabble room in the main house. They also have bunk rooms but I have not stayed in those yet.
- Bathrooms are shared and very clean.
- Considering the outrageous cost of most accommodations in Charleston, you can save a bunch of money by staying here if you’re willing to drive into downtown or take an Uber.
- Noise level – fairly quiet. There are also cute kitties running around outside to pet and cuddle!
I hope my picks have piqued your interest in trying a hostel, whether at home or abroad. When planning a trip, I always compare hostel prices to that of the local Airbnbs and see which wins out. If you’re willing to stay in a bunk room (shared with other travelers), hostels will usually be cheaper. For a private room, it can go either way. In Europe especially, having a hostel kitchen where you can prepare your own meals can save you a good chunk of change.
Have you stayed in a great hostel? I’d love to hear about it so I can add it to my list. Maybe you still have some questions or concerns about hostels? Let me know what’s on your mind in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!
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