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Hostels have played such a huge role in my travels and my life — especially party hostels. If I added up the happiest memories of my travels, hostels would be responsible for quite a few of them. Most of my closest travel friendships began in hostels as well.
At the same time, though, I’m getting older and my patience for shared dorms and a party atmosphere is waning. I figured that now, while I’m still enjoying the hostel scene, would be a great opportunity to share my favorite hostels with you.
When I look for a hostel, the single a lot of crucial quality is complimentary wifi, and I especially love complimentary in-room wifi. Beyond that, I look for a good location; good security; and complimentary breakfast if possible. If the hostel uses cheap communal dinners, I love that as well. I used to look for hostels with a social atmosphere, but now that I work so much these days, I tend to seek out quieter hostels.
These are a selection of my absolute favorite hostels around the world.
Best overall Hostel: Gallery Hostel, Porto, Portugal
Gallery Hostel blew me away when I stayed here in September: it’s by far the best hostel I’ve ever experienced. Absolutely stunning and beautifully decorated, very clean, ridiculously comfortable with beds ready-made with sheets and blankets, a warm and terrific staff, delicious nightly group dinners, even port tasting. It feels like you’re staying at a rich friend’s house rather than a hostel!
And beyond that, it’s exceptionally cheap for the value you get. Put this one on your list for Porto.
Rates start at 15 EUR ($20) for 6-bed mixed dorm. Group dinners are extra.
Best party Hostel: Hanoi Backpackers Hostel, Hanoi, Vietnam
If you’re on the Southeast Asia party backpacker trail, you absolutely need to stay at Hanoi Backpackers. No other hostel has its legendary status (or sells as lots of t-shirts)! It seems like every backpacker in Hanoi gathers on the hostel roofing at delighted hour each night before going out into the early morning. There are heavy-duty party trips within the city, like the epic snake restaurant. There’s complimentary beer on Sundays. And then there are the trips — the greatest party cruise of all time in Halong Bay, and trips to Sapa and color as well.
Beyond that, the rooms have ensuite bathrooms and are very comfortable. There are two of these hostels in Hanoi (I stayed at the original) and one in color as well, where I also stayed and which is very great as well.
Rates start at 120,000 dong ($6) for 6-bed mixed dorm.
Fanciest Hostel: Kex Hostel, Reykjavik, Iceland
Kex Hostel is the fanciest and hippest hostel where I’ve ever stayed. At what other hostel can you actually buy roasted bone marrow off the dinner menu? Kex is decorated like a hipster’s utmost fantasy, down to the ancient maps on the walls, sophisticated library, old-fashioned gym, and 1940s-style barbershop in one of the closets.
If you like style, but you’re not picky about where you actually sleep, a hostel like Kex is the best solution.
Rates start at 2300 ISK ($18) for 16-bed mixed dorm.
Best Stay-Here-For-Weeks Hostel: Monkey Republic, Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Oh, Monkey Republic. I practically moved into the dorm here on my two multi-week trips to Sihanoukville (and for $3 per night, why not?). The upstairs loft was the best place to work before going to the beach. Monkey Republic is one of the big party bars near Serendipity Beach, but the bar shuts down by midnight, when people leave and head out to other bars. That indicates it’s pretty quiet…until 7 AM, when the dive shop next door starts blasting music, waking up the entire dorm.
I loved how every morning you would wake up and see different couples paired up in each others’ beds. Every morning was different.
Rates start at $3 for 10-bed mixed dorm.
Best located Hostel: Old town Hostel, Split, Croatia
Diocletian’s palace is the main attraction of Split — and Old town Hostel is actually located inside the palace. It’s on the second floor of an apartment or condo building, and feels like you’re staying in a home rather than a hostel. The walls are purple, the quilts are orange, and the staff goes out of their way to show you all the great places in town.
This is also a friendly hostel that doesn’t go overboard with the partyinnull