We have a confession to make, we only just started staying in hostels a few years ago. During our first Asia trip, there was no way in hell we would have stepped into a hostel. Why? Well, we believed everything that we had heard. That hostels were dirty, that your belongings weren’t going to be safe, that the bathrooms were terrible, and that people would be doing weird things all the time. After a few hostel stays though, our minds have certainly been changed!
With travel being so accessible to people, hostels have really stepped up their game. We’ve honestly stayed in hostels that were nicer than some of the hotels that we’ve experienced while travelling. There are places where hostels are really just an option to stay in (Asia) or places where you really can’t afford to stay anywhere but them (Europe). So how do you know if hostels are for you? And how do you find the best ones to stay at? It’s pretty easy actually! Just do your research and know what kind of atmosphere you want the hostel to have.
Sure, there’s a lot of partying going on at hostels, but there’s also a lot of hostels where you can just chill out. We stayed at one hostel in Bali that felt like a resort. The rooms were insanely clean, and the hostel was basically dead after 6 pm. We aren’t usually into those hostel vibes though, but if you’re looking to just chill out while on a budget, don’t think that you need to avoid hostels in order to do so.
Hostels are for you if:
- You like making new friends to go on adventures with
- You’re okay with sharing a room/bathroom
- You like not having to look far for activities
- You like finding people to hang out with, and possibly continue travelling around with
- You like to have fun
Hostels are not for you:
- You hate people: We stayed in a hostel in Bali one time that was insanely chill. We had a little bit of an emergency (One debit card was lost and one wasn’t working) so we were trying to open our storage drawer under our bunk and a guy had the audacity to get mad at us for making too much noise. It wasn’t even 9pm yet and we were being pretty quiet considering the freak out that we were having.
- You’re a party pooper/negative nancy or just really prefer to go solo (just kidding, kind of. Just make sure to stay in a chiller hostel)
- If you don’t like sharing a bathroom/are going through some travel related bathroom crisis’ that requires private access to a bathroom if you catch our drift.
- You went on a trip to avoid people 100% of the time (which is totally cool too)
How to find the best hostels:
- Hostelworld: We have found almost every single hostel that we’ve ever stayed in using this website. We were told a trick a long time ago that when you’re looking for places to stay, search your location and then sort by rating. The ratings are based on reviews from actual guests and you can tell if a hostel is a good fit for you or not based on reading the reviews for it.
- Know exactly what you want: You want a chill hostel? Perfect, don’t stay in one that is notorious for partying. You want a party hostel? Don’t stay in one where the reviews seem super chill.
- Instagram: A good way to see what hostels are like is to follow them on instagram. We always make sure to creep hostel pages that we’re interested in to see what kind of photos they’re posting and what kind of stories they have going on to see if they’ll be a good fit for us or not.
Our Top Hostels:
- Slumber Party Hostels (Thailand): We literally received an email after booking this hostel saying that if we weren’t into partying and having fun, then we probably booked the wrong hostel and should cancel immediately. It lived up to the email it sent by having some rad day tours, free BBQs, and pubcrawls that started directly at the hostel. Not to mention the cubby hole beds were super cool and the hostel was extremely quiet once quiet time kicked in (around 11pm)
- Vietnam Backpackers Hostels (Vietnam): The first time we stayed at this hostel was when we landed in Hanoi (they also run Castaways which is where we went straight after). We were hooked on the vibes of the hostel. They are super modern and clean and almost feel more like resorts than hostels. The staff are incredible and they’re never short on daily activities, free beer and fun.
- Puri Garden (Bali): This was the chillest place we’ve ever stayed. We had just gotten to Bali and decided to have an impromptu pool party by splashing around on floaties and drinking beer. Safe to say that no one else joined in on our fun and we were in bed by 10 because there was nothing really going on. There were free yoga classes and the hostel also organized a day trip for us. This place honestly had the nicest bathrooms that we’ve ever seen at a hostel and is a perfect place if you’re looking for a quiet chill out zone.
- Pachamama (Nicaragua): We found out about this hostel through the infamous Sunday Funday Pool Crawl, which starts at Pachamama every Sunday. We stayed in a four person dorm room, which came with our own private bathroom. They had plenty of activities going on day and night, not to mention the endless contests to win Sunday Funday tickets and the rad staff that we became friends with.
It’s really hard for us to not stay in hostels now after the great experiences that we’ve had in them. Don’t get us wrong, we still stay in hotels when we know that we really need a break from the social scene. It’s hard when you’re as extroverted as us to say no to anything, so we usually have to take a hotel if we need some downtime in order to relax (and usually get over whatever illness we’ve picked up from our sleepless adventures). But, don’t let our experiences trick you. You can definitely chill out in hostels, even if they are more party. Most hostels have implemented quiet times that start around 10 or 11 pm and everyone that’s being rowdy in the main area has to leave on either a pubcrawl or an adventure of their own. We have also never had an issue with our belongings in hostels either., They always come with storage lockers that you can either put your important things in, or ones big enough to lock up even your luggage. Once you start staying in hostels, it’s really hard to try and find those vibes anywhere else. Heck, we even made some friends at Vietnam Backpackers that are coming to meet us on our next trip! The people you meet with at hostels will stick with you forever.