I have stayed in a variety of places when I’ve been away either travelling with my friends or on holiday with my family but I always really enjoy staying in hostels. I love that hostelling is a thing, and I especially like it when it’s very cheap. Not that it’s always cheap – high end hostels are now more like ‘boutique’ hotels and can sometimes end up more expensive than your bog standard Travel Lodge/Premier Inn/Equivalent hotel, and certainly more expensive than B&Bs. So, don’t be fooled into thinking hostelling is always the cheapest option. Or, that it’s always un-glamourous and basic; it certainly can be (believe me!) but it can be pretty chic, or just pretty normal too.
So I’d like to share my favourite hostels in Europe – I’ve never hostelled outside of Europe so I can’t help with that.
Mosaic House, Prague
So I technically stayed in the hotel portion of this building which I can highly recommend as being amazing. However, I’m reliably informed, and I’ve had a nosey around too, that the hostel rooms are very good. The beds look comfy and the room I saw wasn’t cramped. The hostel cum hotel has a great atmosphere too, it can get really buzzing in the evening and the breakfast was pretty good if I recall (although an extra charge). The best things about it are the design, it’s beautiful throughout, the location, it’s really close to the centre of town, some bars and the river, and the fact that it’s an eco-hotel. That made me feel really good about staying there and you can read fully online what it does to be green but it’s definitely a cool feature, more hostels should be.
We stayed: In a double hotel room. Our friend stayed in an 8 bed mixed dorm.
You can pay: If I were to book for tonight it’d cost me €14.00 per night for an 8 bed dorm.
St Christopher’s, Berlin
This was great for one of my first holidays with just me and a friend; not least because of the friendly bar and restaurant downstairs as it takes some of the fear out of exploring a new city. They had good deals on cocktails too I remember. St Christopher’s hostels can be found all over the place and have a really good reputation. They’re popular with all ages and we certainly found a lot of people here our age who we could hang out with. It was a nice, well designed and clean hostel and I really couldn’t fault it, except for the price. They aren’t the cheapest hostels to pick but I love that they’re reliable and you always know what you’re getting. This one’s location was ideal too, right outside an U-Bahn station and very easy to find.
I checked out prices for this now and it definitely seems to have gone up, I remember paying about €23 a night, which is still dear, but now it seems much more. However, it might be better off season.
La Guitarra, Gdansk
I’ve searched long and hard for this hostel online it’s such a fuzzy memory now. But I do know that I really liked this place. They had a good kitchen with free tea (maybe coffee too), which is always a winner and a cosy living room. They also had a No Shoes Indoors policy which I kind of liked, so everyone took their shoes off at the top of the stairs, and it was really clean because there were no carpets or anything. The beds were super comfortable if I remember right, although I was exhausted from a weekend of Frisbee and drinking and travelling. The location is also really close to the river which is great.
We stayed: in a 16 bed dorm as there were a lot of us.
You can pay: I check a 6 bed dorm for next week and that’s 70zl or approximately £12.50
Argyle Backpackers, Edinburgh
This one reminded me very much of a guest house. It’s two old terraced houses knocked through to make one tall, quite old, quaint hostel. It wasn’t noisy and there were several people staying there for longer periods; and I found the beds very comfy. It didn’t have a lot of ‘life’, it was mostly full of chilled people, making their dinner in the kitchen and enjoying quiet time, which can be exactly what you’re after. It’s really well located for a really cool, quirky area with bars, restaurants, cafes and supermarkets nearby and we were happy to walk almost everywhere in Edinburgh we wanted to go from here. The kitchen and eating area is a bonus, there’s a cute conservatory area where you can eat and a garden too. The best thing, possibly, was the information available inside. As you walk in there’s a wall of information, suggested day trips to suggested bars and clubs, plus a map and bus information, and snippets and tips from previous travellers. Without that wall I’d never have found Crammond Island – Thank you wall! This was also very cheap for the UK.
We paid: £13 per night
We stayed: 4 person dorm, all female. (Mixed 6 person would have been cheaper).
Come Backpackers, Berlin
Now this is one of those examples of a basic hostel. I’m not sure I can really recommend that anybody stay here to be honest, but we did have a very good time while we stayed here. The décor was mismatched and questionable and the showers were interesting but the staff were super friendly and I loved the attitude of a lot of the people staying here. It was in an ideal location for people who had come to Berlin to party (who doesn’t want to party in Berlin), it’s slap bang outside Kotbusser U-Bahn station, between Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg and very close to the central districts too. This place is definitively basic, but it has a large communal area, a roof that you can access if it’s sunny and is close to plenty of cheap and easy places to grab food.
We stayed: in a 6 bed mixed dorm.
We paid: Not very much as I remember but the website is quoting €22 now so who knows? With 16 bed dorms at €16.
Bottom line, hostels are sometimes your best option, and can be great for solo travellers. Sometimes they’re your worst option and guarantee you nothing but a terrible night’s sleep. And sometimes they aren’t as financially viable as you might have assumed. What’s your experience hostelling? Where’s your favourite hostel?