Picking out a hostel is one of the most exciting parts about trip planning for me! I always make it a personal challenge to pick out the best hostel for the best price. Even though I usually don’t spend a lot of time in the hostel, I firmly believe that a good hostel can make all the difference on a trip!
I’ve stayed in some pretty terrible hostels, some average hostels, and some amazing hostels! Some hostels have blown my expectations out of the water and made me want to plan a trip just to go back to them.
Here are the 4 best hostels I’ve ever stayed at:
4. Mochila Hostel in Salento, Colombia
Great for: relaxing and enjoying some fresh air.
Location: The location is one of the downsides of this hostel. It’s actually a little bit outside of Salento and you need to take a bus or walk 30+ minutes uphill to reach the town. When I went, a lot of the buses didn’t stop so I ended up walking most of the way and trying to hitchhike. But it’s a great hostel as long as you know this ahead of time!
Staff: The staff were really friendly and always open to answering questions.
Cleanliness: The hostel is really clean and seems brand new! I stayed in a private room and the room was well stocked, with soap and everything. The public bathrooms and the common area were also really clean.
Atmosphere: The atmosphere is the best part of this hostel! I love a good party hostel every now and then, but sometimes I just want to relax and be around cool people. And Mochila Hostel is exactly that! At night, we drank a few beers from the bar, which were reasonably priced, and played pool in the common area. A lot of people were hanging out and there was even live music. It was very relaxing and we had a great time.
Why it made this list: Mochila Hostel made this list for four reasons: the atmosphere, the quiet location, the animals, and the SHOWERS!
I already mentioned how great the atmosphere was, especially at night.
While the location was inconvenient when going to Salento, it was great for relaxing! It was really quiet and eating breakfast with a view of the mountains was a great way to start the day.
Any hostel that has pets automatically gets bonus points in my book. They had two adorable and playful kittens and a dog!
And the showers! The bottom of the shower was made of pebbles and the water pressure and hot water were amazing (especially for someone who went eight months without hot water). They were really clean and I didn’t get that typical gross feeling from showering in a hostel shower.
3. Hola Ola Hostel in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Great for: meeting new people and relaxing by the pool
Location: It’s a short walk along the beach to the main part of San Juan del Sur. Walking back alone at night can be a little scary, but if you’re in a group it’s fine. The hostel also offers free shuttles to and form the town at night.
Staff: Awesome! The staff were all really relaxed. They were helpful with any trip planning and hung out and interacted with the guests a lot.
Cleanliness: In general, it was pretty clean. The common area was really clean and so was the room. The bathroom was a little dirty, but part of that had to do with people coming back covered in sand.
Atmosphere: The atmosphere was great! There were always people in the common area and hanging out by the pool. As a solo traveler, it was really easy to meet people and find a group to travel with. At night it could get a little loud but it was a fun environment!
Why it made the list: It made the list for two reasons: the atmosphere and the helpfulness of the staff when organizing tours.
As I already mentioned, it was really easy to meet people. Everybody was friendly and wanted to travel, but it was also really easy to spend time alone.
Whenever a group wanted to go to a certain place, they would organize transportation and everything. They had a lot of contacts and were always willing to help. They were really knowledgeable about which companies were good and which ones weren’t.
2. Calle 11 Hostel in El Rodadero, Colombia
Great for: when you just want to be near the beach (and hang out with some tortoises).
Location: I actually chose this hostel because of its location; it’s only a 5-minute walk from the beach! It’s located in a small suburb of Santa Marta and is basically a resort town for Colombians from other cities. The beach was great and there were a lot of restaurants and bars around. The hostel itself is located on a quiet street, but I felt relatively safe walking back alone at night.
Staff: The staff was great! They answered any questions I had and always greeted me in the mornings.
Cleanliness: The rooms were really clean and so were the common areas. The bathrooms were a little dirty, but not too bad! It’s also a hostel near the beach so some of the dirtiness had to do with that.
Atmosphere: It’s definitely not a party hostel, but there were always people around to talk to. I was traveling alone and met a few people while I was just sitting by the pool having a glass of wine. It’s quiet, but a nice quiet.
Why it made the list: It made the list for four reasons: how nice the dorms were, the amenities available, the pets, and the location!
This hostel was the same price as a lot of other hostels, but offered a lot more! I stayed in the dorm and every bed had a privacy curtain, its own outlet, and its own reading light. There was also AC, which is a must for the Caribbean heat! Plus, the beds were super comfy.
In the hostel, there’s a huge kitchen that you can use! There’s also hammocks, a place to watch movies, multiple balconies, and a pool.
As I already mentioned, I love when hostels have animals. Calle 11 Hostel has several pet cats wandering around and even 2 pet tortoises!
The location is one of the best things about this hostel. It’s only 5-minute walk from the beach and close to bus stops if you want to travel by bus. There’s also a chiva station(?) only 2 minutes away and there you can schedule tours to Santa Marta, Tayrona National Park, and more.
1. Posada Kalea in Cartagena, Colombia
Great for: secluding yourself from society and hanging out at the beach. It’s also great for extreme water sports.
Price: A little on the pricier side. I decided to treat myself and splurge a little. I paid around $25 per night, while other hostels in the area are $10-$15 per night (but it’s really a steal considering how nice the hostel was!).
Location: If you’re looking to hang out at the beach you can’t get any closer than this! Posada Kalea is literally ON the beach…as in the first floor of the hostel is sand. It’s far from the center of Cartagena and you’ll have to take an Uber or taxi if you want to go there. The hostel is in a local neighborhood and there aren’t any tourist attractions around the hostel.
Staff: The staff were AMAZING. As soon as I arrived, they greeted me by name and were super helpful and informative. Breakfast was included and they actually asked me what I wanted, made the breakfast just for me, and brought my plate out to a chair and table with a view of the beach. If I could rate the staff, I would give them 100 out of 10 stars.
Cleanliness: When I stayed here, it seemed like the hostel was brand new. There was sand, but everything was still so clean somehow!
Atmosphere: Honestly, there wasn’t really much going on but I had wanted to be away from people for a few days anyways. I stayed here when there weren’t very many other guests. During the day, it seemed like locals and surfers hung out there and there were a lot more people around!
Why it made the list: This is by far the BEST hostel I’ve ever stayed at and it made the list for three reasons: the rooms, the proximity to the beach, and the staff
. It was more like a hotel. I stayed in a dorm and the room had a private bathroom, a mini bar, and a balcony with a hammock facing the ocean. Also, every bed had a mosquito net.
The proximity to the beach was unbelievable it was such a relaxing place to stay. It was great to just walk outside of the hostel and go for a morning swim!
Plus, the staff made me feel so comfortable and at home, as I mentioned above. It was basically a luxury hostel.
What’s the best hostel you’ve ever stayed at??