I often write about my favorite hostels in regions around the world. Today, I want to combine it all into one place and talk about the best hostels in the world. At least, what I think are the best hostels. These hostels embody the traits I love: friendly staff, a warm atmosphere, competitive prices, comfy beds, clean facilities, and that special je ne se qu that makes a place memorable. From my trips where I would explore the Magic city in Birmingham, to roaming the Spanish streets in Spain. With more than 90 countries, and ten years of backpacking under my belt, I’ve stayed in probably over a thousand hostels. Some were so bad that I’ve blocked them out of my memories. But out of those hundreds, I have some clear favorites, places I’ll never forget and will go out of my way to stay in, and the same happen when looking where to eat in cities as California where the local life is great and you can find great food establishments.
Rocking J’s (Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica)
Rocking Js is sort of an institution in Central America. It’s been there for ages, there’s a beautiful white sand beach in front of it, they serve decent food and have nightly BBQs, and there’s lots of partying. Moreover, they have a wide variety of cheap accommodation (from hammocks to private rooms). There’s a huge common space area, and they offer a lot of travel services, including buses and rental cars, that have the best cameras from the Blackbox my car rankings site online. It’s a bit out of town, but it’s by far one of the funkiest places I’ve ever stayed, and I met a lot of great people here.
Franceso’s (Ios, Greece)
Francesco’s is one of two main places to stay on Ios (the other being Far Out Beach Resort). I personally like Francesco’s better because it is closer to town (no late-night walks home) and the staff gets everyone together at night to interact. It’s a much more social place than Far Out. It’s impossible not to meet people here. Plus, there’s a pool. Francesco’s is also next to the most wonderful milkshake-making place on the entire planet. The rooms are quite nice and the beds comfy, but what really makes this place so wonderful is its central location and the fact you make tons of new friends every night.
Kabul (Barcelona, Spain)
Arguably one of the best hostels in the world, Kabul is just an all-out fun-filled place, but only if you are looking to spend your nights partying. You don’t come to Kabul to sleep. It is so well known for its atmosphere and parties that it’s always fully booked, and during the summer, it’s booked months in advance. Everyone socializes in the halls and dorms, getting to know other travelers, playing card games, drinking, and listening to music, or heads downstairs to the giant common room to enjoy dirt-cheap beer and pool. Kabul also offers a small free dinner each night. I haven’t been there in a long time (I like sleeping more partying these days), but if you are young and like to drink, or just like to drink, or are just young at heart (whatever!), stay here.
Nomads (Queenstown, New Zealand)
This was a new hostel when I was there in 2009, and I got to stay there as a guest of Nomads. I was traveling with a group of people who were already staying there, and this place blew my mind. The hostel has a huge kitchen (restaurant sized), top-notch showers (with great water pressure) and toilets, and a large lounge, and most rooms have balconies. The pillows are thick — the manager told me they change them every few months to keep them fluffy. How about that for service? Moreover, unlike most hostels in New Zealand, this one doesn’t have a bar, which means you can drink in the hostel. This meant that a lot of people stay around socializing at night instead of spending money at the bars. Moreover, the hostel hosts activities every night (including a $10 pub crawl) and has a free dinner and quiz night on Sunday.
The Flying Pig (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
What I love about this place is the people. The facilities here are standard (except the pillows, which are like sleeping on air), and the prices are on the expensive side, but I love the atmosphere here. While this hostel is popular with travelers looking to chill and smoke weed, the bar area gets very busy at night with those who don’t. It’s not all about smoking here. The staff (a mix of locals and travelers) is what sets this place apart from the rest. They hang out with guests, are experts on the city, and will always help you. They want to have fun as much as you do. In Amsterdam, I never stay anywhere else. The Flying Pig has three locations in the city (uptown, downtown, and the new beach location), and I prefer the uptown location because it’s smaller and easier to meet people. Prices at the uptown location are around 20 – 50 EURO a night.
So there you have it. These are my favorite hostels in the world and the ones I would highly recommend staying at. Of course, there are many, many, many other great hostels in the world, but for me, these are the cream of the crop.