20 coolest hostels in the world

Hostels have consistently proven to be the go-to lodging for serious wanderlust travellers seeking to discover the heart and soul of destinations without reaching too far into their pockets. Hostels have come a long way from the dingy dorm setting and have erupted in creativity over the years. Coming in all shapes and forms, including forest tepees, water houses and jail cells, gone are the days where travel destinations determine the hostel. Hostels of today are increasingly becoming the travel destination. We take a look at the 20 coolest hostels that should feature on any travel junkie’s bucket list.

Caveland Santorini Hostel (Greece)

This 5-star hostel is located in an 18th century winery in the picturesque village of Karterados. Made up of traditional cave houses and terraces, it boasts unparalleled views of the Cycladic island of Santorini. Bright pink bougainvillea arches flood the white walls of the cave complex and create a majestic backdrop for social events such as yoga classes and traditional dinners. The hostel also arranges tours to the volcano and its warm springs. The dorm caves reflect architecture typical of Santorini and are adorned with mainly upcycled items, as recycling is a way of life on the island. The hostel is equipped with a pool and bar area and is within walking distance of the beautiful capital of Fira.

At the Top Hostel (Dubai)

Located on the 66th floor, and in the heart of the Dubai Marina, lies At the Top Hostel, the highest hostel in the world. Boasting vertigo-inducing views of the city and the iconic Palm Jumeirah from a selection of large windows and dorm balconies, not to mention its prime location amongst a selection of bars, restaurants and other attractions, the hostel offers guests a taste of Dubai at its finest without breaking the bank.

Mountain Hostel Tarter (Andorra)

Tucked away in the Pyrenees in the quaint town of El Tartar, the centuries-old stone house puts travellers in the heart of the action for skiing and snowboarding. The converted Andorran home consists of a variety of dorm rooms, all heated, and equipped with free Wi-Fi and skylights. After a long day out on the slopes, guests can be rejuvenated in the hostel’s heated outdoor swimming pool surrounded by a white, winter wonderland. In the evenings, a glass of wine from the hostel’s very own cellar enjoyed on a beanbag by the indoor fireplace could be an ideal escape from the chilling blasts emanating from the surrounding snow-clad mountains.

Urban House (Copenhagen)

Urban House Copenhagen simply oozes with coolness in the hip, up-and-coming neighbourhood of Vesterbro. Featuring spaces adorned with vintage art and décor, not only does the hostel have its very own tattoo parlour, but guests can also watch local musicians play at its swanky bar. The hostel offers both private and dorm rooms, and instead of key cards, guests are provided with unique passcodes. When guests aren’t wandering the surrounding streets lined with quirky cafes and restaurants, they can be found at the hostel’s bar, restaurant, lounge area, library, game room or bike shop. The hostel also hosts yoga and urban running events and is only a few blocks away from the central station.

Selina La Fortuna (Costa Rica)

Set in one of Costa Rica’s most sought-after destinations with its lush rainforests, imposing waterfalls, and an active volcano, Selina La Fortuna blends in with the surrounding scenery likened to Paradise with its hammocks, luxurious tents and high-end hotel rooms. Guests can even channel their inner Pocahontas and stay in one of the charming tepees decked with fairy lights, centred around a campfire. The friendly hostel is located on the banks of Rio Burio, boasting an excellent location with nearby ziplining, white-water rafting, restaurants and shops. Facilities include a swimming pool, bar, communal lounge and a deck perched in the treetops where guests can be seen practising yoga.

Lavender Circus Hostel (Hungary)

Guests in search of an authentic European city tour are sure to be blown away by this stylish bohemian hostel in the heart of Budapest. Arguably more like an apartment than a hostel, what makes Lavender Circus truly unique is the abundance of creative décor scattered throughout the hostel, and walls adorned with art in the form of hand drawings. Priding themselves on being one of the cheapest hostels in Budapest, guests will be pleasantly surprised with its selection of double beds as well as dormitory rooms. The communal lounge features free tea and coffee and hosts charming Hungarian dinner parties where guests can mingle and dine in true Hungarian fashion.

The Millennials Kyoto (Japan)

The Millennials Kyoto sets itself apart from the ordinary hostel and raises the bar for the future of lodging through its implementation of technological features and minimalist design. The hostel offers lodging in smart pods and capsules, featuring reclining Serta mattresses and projectors that connect to guests’ devices. The ultra-modern rooms are controlled using iPods. Whether travelling for work or leisure, the hostel’s neutral earth-tone lobby creates an ideal environment for relaxing and socializing in its workspace and dining area. The hostel also offers a play zone and an onsite bar, with guests being treated to free beer in the afternoon. The hostel is just a five-minute walk to the Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae station and close to restaurants and the Gion district.

Jumbo Stay (Sweden)

Jumbo Stay takes pride in being the only lodging located inside an authentic Boeing 747 jumbo jet. The jet retired after its last journey from Dublin in 2002 and was then converted into a unique, quirky hostel. Ideal for travellers, with the airport only a stone’s throw away, lodging ranges from dorm rooms to suites strategically located throughout the aircraft. Guests can opt to sleep in the engine room and even the cockpit. While the café is found in the nose section, an outdoor terrace is located on the wing, allowing guests to watch as planes land on the runway. Guests are free to wander in and around the majestic piece of engineering. Opening their curtains in the morning, they are treated to a beautiful show of planes on the runway.

Life.Love.Hostel (Morocco)

Walking down the typical Arabian alley in search of the hidden Riad, travellers are unaware of the remarkable Moroccan energy that awaits beyond the hostel doors. Life.Love.Hostel assaults the senses through its adoption of vibrant colours and geometric shapes throughout its furnishings. In fact, guests have likened it to stepping into a giant kaleidoscope. Guests are allocated male and female dorms and treated to free tea throughout the day in a communal Moroccan lounge. The rooftop terrace boasts priceless views of the city and is not to be missed at sunset. The friendly hostel is conveniently located in the centre of the Marrakech Medina, putting Djema el-Fna and its surrounding markets only seven minutes away on foot.

The House of Sandeman (Portugal)

The House of Sandeman blurs the line between hotel and hostel lodging through its state-of-the-art hospitality. The dorms of the converted wine cellar are equipped with unique arrangements of beds that resemble stacked port barrels. The hostel beats to its own drum, much like the city of Porto in which its located and introduces a new way for guests to experience the city. The hostel features a communal area, complimentary breakfast, a quirky stairwell loaded with bikes and a waterfront view. Located at the bank of the Ria Douro in Villa Nova de Gaia and close to public transport, the hostel puts tourist areas 20 minutes away on foot and provides easy access to the many wine cellars around.

Kadir’s Tree Houses (Turkey)

Travelers can finally experience every child’s dream at this hostel and spend a night in an actual treehouse. Located on the unspoiled coastline of southern Turkey, amid nature reserves and ancient ruins, lies Kadir’s Tree Houses. Other than treehouses, lodging ranges from air-conditioned bungalows and suites to dormitories. The unique location of the hostel offers an array of adventurous activities, such as hiking to the Lost City and relaxing on the scenic beach at Olympos. In the evenings, guests can retire to their treehouses or enjoy a nightcap at one of the three bars. Night owls will find solace in the on-site nightclub that stays open until the early hours of the morning, and the Pizza House that closes only once the last guest has retreated for the night.

HI – Ottawa Jail Hostel (Canada)

There’s no need to commit a crime to do time in this one-of-a-kind jail hostel. In fact, the only thing visitors may be guilty of is enjoying their stay. The dorm rooms are former jail cells, equipped with the absolute minimum. With concrete walls and floors and iron bars for doors, visitors can expect an authentic jail experience without the luxuries of modern accommodation. The hostel offers daily tours and allows guests to explore the jail and wander around the solitary confinement cells. Guests can also expect unnerving walks down dark corridors to reach the bathrooms at night. The hostel is in the heart of downtown Ottawa and is within walking distance from the city’s main attractions.

Die Wohngemeinschaft (Germany)

Die Wohngemeinschaft’s sixteen individually-themed rooms undoubtedly reflect the creative and vibrant scene of Cologne’s Belgian quarter in which it finds itself. Meticulous effort and attention to detail gives each room a unique design and character. While Emilia’s room resembles a legendary palace, Juri’s room is equipped with a double bed resembling a space ship. Paul’s room resembles a stylish photo studio and invites guests to pin up their own creations onto a giant city map. The hostel features a café and bar with a terrace that flows onto the main street of the trendy Belgian Quarter. The hostel is conveniently located amongst bars, clubs, restaurants, shops, and other attractions, making it the ideal base from which to explore Cologne.

Away with the Fairies, Hogsback (South Africa)

Rumoured to be the destination that inspired JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, guests can immerse themselves in African nature and wildlife at Away with the Fairies in Hogsback. Perhaps the most fascinating feature of all is that guests can enjoy a glass of wine in the famous bath perched on a cliff edge overlooking a majestic forest and the three Hogsback mountains. A traditional donkey boiler is lit every morning and must be maintained by guests throughout the course of the day to ensure that everyone enjoys a turn in the hot bath. Visitors can choose between dorm rooms, private rooms, an acorn house, cottages, or camping.

Sydney Railway Square YHA (Australia)

Affixed to Sydney’s Central Station, Railway Square YHA allows guests to stay in the former Platform Zero’s quirky railway carriages or in the rooms of the historic main building. The hostel’s proximity to the train station and nearby bus depot grants easy access to Sydney’s main attractions. In fact, since the carriages are located right next to the actual station, guests can hear the comings and goings of commuters, and the station’s occasional live announcements. The hostel is within walking distance of Darling Harbour, Chinatown and Sydney’s vibrant nightlife. Staying true to its “hostel’ reputation, the staff regularly organize social events such as group outings to nearby bars where guests, staff and locals can mingle.

Solscape (New Zealand)

Nestled at the foot of Mount Karioi with magnificent views of the Tasmon Sea, and only a short walk from the world-renowned surf of Manu Bay and Nagarunui beach, Solscape’s eco accommodation is driven by sustainable practices and caters for all budgets. Guests can choose between beautiful round earth domes, upcycled railway cabooses and Belle tents. Tepee forest tents are available for those who wish to venture “off grid”, complete with composting toilets and open-air kitchen facilities. The hostel’s plant-based eco-cuisine adds to the unique experience of reconnecting with nature. The hostel offers surf and yoga classes, while the greater Raglan area offers horse riding, rock climbing and kayaking adventures.

Casa en el Agua (Caribbean)

Located two hours off the coast of Colombia, the hostel itself is an island. Lodging options range from dorm rooms to single suites. Those opting for the most budget-friendly option find themselves in a hammock on the top deck overlooking the pristine scenery of the Caribbean. Guests can either take the stairs or jump from the top deck into the crystal-clear water below to get to breakfast in the mornings. Part of the Rosaro and San Bernardo Corals National Natural Park, the remarkable two-story eco-hostel relies on solar power and forces guests to forego unnecessary luxuries. With an on-site restaurant and bar, paddle boards and a boat service for exploring the surrounding beauties of the Caribbean, it comes as no surprise that guests struggle to part with this hidden gem in tropical paradise.

Galaxy Pod Hostel (Iceland)

Doing away with regular bunk beds in shared dormitories, Galaxy Pod Hostel looks to the future and invites guests to embark on a space odyssey by offering lodging in the form of space pods. Illuminated by fluorescent lights and reminiscent of a spaceship’s interior, the futuristic pods offer unprecedented privacy in a hostel setting. Each pod is equipped with a bed and amenities including a curtain, smart TV, locker, safe, mirror and charging port. The hostel is conveniently located in downtown Reykjavik, near the city centre, and is within walking distance of the main bus station, bars and shopping district, allowing guests to truly experience Iceland like peas in a pod.

Skyewalker Hostel (Isle of Sky)

Tucked away in the unspoiled scenery of the Minginish Peninsula, built amongst eerie sea lochs, rugged forests and misty mountains, you will find Skyewalker Hostel, where faint voices can be heard emanating out from under the hostel’s state-of-the-art glass dome. Designated one of the darkest places in Europe, star-gazers flock to the Isle of Skye and look to the skies for a chance to see mesmerizing displays of the Milky Way, and even the Aurora Borealis and Northern Lights. Whether meditating under the dome, lodging in the hostel’s unique Jedi huts or getting immersed in the Scottish spirit at one of the hostel’s regular Scottish folk music sessions, its hard to deny that the force is strong at Skyewalker Hostel.

Casa Elemento (Colombia)

Nestled in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains of Colombia, Casa Elemento has quickly become an obligatory stop for travellers thanks to its famous giant hammocks jutting out over the edge of the hillside, offering stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Whether lodging at the hostel or simply passing through for the day, up to 15 people can lounge in the main hammock and get their creative juices flowing as they plan the perfect Instagram shot. The hostel also boasts trendy new cabins and dorm rooms, along with a pool and bar. The hostel is a perfect escape from the sweltering Caribbean heat and an ideal base for visiting the nearby waterfalls and coffee farm.