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Really, What ARE The Best Hostels in the World?

“We stayed in the number one and number three hostels in the ENTIRE WORLD!” I sang out.

Whenever my brother and I declared this (and we declared it approximately seventy-eight times in one week), it was necessary to use the most dramatic booming deity voice possible. Why? Because that’s a really big deal to say something is number one in the entire world!

And it begs the question: How true are these hostel quality ratings, and what goes into them?

Gaze now at the list from whence we got our numbers: The HostelWorld.com “Hoscar” awards for 2009. What do you notice? Here’s what I see:

– Five (half!) of the top ten hostels in the entire world, according to this list, are in Lisbon, Portugal.

– One hundred percent of the supposed top hostels on earth are in… Europe.

Is this list true, then? In a word… no. In twelve more words: “Why the heck aren’t the hostels of Southeast Asia on this list?!”

Indeed, the number one and three hostels we stayed at while in Lisbon were FABULOUS. They were stunningly decorated (check out the first three photos, which are of Living Lounge Hostel: number 3 in the world!), comfortable, safe, and overflowing with community activities like family-style dinners and cheap day tours which bonded all us lonely travelers together.

However, I can’t help but remember Lub-d Hostel in Bangkok, Thailand, where I ended up staying for over two weeks between August and December. Lub-d, too, has amazing community events and vibes, cool decoration, and great safety features. Where the Thai hostel far beats the “Number One and Three in the world” residences, however, is in bathroom quality. I may never see a nicer shared bathroom in my entire life as I saw in Lub-d! You can find a photo of the bunks and bathrooms of Lub-d by clickity-clicking here.

My favorite thing about Lub-d’s bathrooms (besides the gleaming chrome fixtures) is that each of the many shower stalls has its own private antechamber in which you may disrobe, lay down your towel and toilet kit, and generally transition in privacy from the outer realms into shower world. Does the number one hostel in the world have this feature? Alas, no… meaning that I flashed the entire hostel hallway while trying to negotiate the undressing-in-the-middle-of-the-bathroom situation. Whoopsie!

Even, however, if we were to agree that the earth’s best hostels are in Europe (which they’re not), or that they are in Portugal (also, likely not), there are other hostels in Portugal which in some ways are even better than the top-rated ones from Lisbon! For example, the best hostel my brother and I stayed in during our week in Iberia was actually the Poet’s Hostel in Porto, Portugal, pictured to the lower right. It was wonderful! Just what I needed after the long flight from Africa.

In the end, though, “Top Ten” rankings will never be satisfying. How many times have you watched a “Top Ten Best Songs of the 80s” countdown and gotten hoarse screaming curses at the screen? Preferences just can’t be boiled down like that.

But if we were to spin these rankings in a positive way, let us say this: Know that there are MARVELOUS hostels in this world, from Europe, to Asia, and beyond, and they’re not just for drunken twenty-somethings! Instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars on a fancy hotel the next time you travel, take a peek at Hostel World or another online site to see if you can spend just a ten or twenty dollars a night on a bed in a place with real character and charm!

 

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Leah Klein

Saturday 3rd of May 2014

I have a few faves. I love Nantucket 's hostel an old life saving station. We stayed in a beautiful one in Barcelona. I loved the hostel in Wörth, Würth? Germany too.

Lillie

Saturday 3rd of May 2014

Oooh, unique choices!

Marilyn Barrett

Tuesday 10th of July 2012

you're right Lily. I didn't think that hostels existed til I found that ski trip in Syracuse. Here hostels are so much farther apart than in Europe. There you truly can bike or even hike from hostel to hostel. Some wake you up with music or have coffe house music in the eveing. I miss the chores that used to be required but that seems to be disappearing. I'm glad Boston has a great one and, as a teaherr, I'm glad you're back in the classroom using your world travel experiences to inspire kids, loved your speech!

Lillie

Tuesday 10th of July 2012

Thanks! For readers who weren't at the New Boston Hostel opening in person, the text of my speech is here: https://aroundtheworldl.mystagingwebsite.com/2012/07/07/my-speech-with-the-mayor-at-the-boston-hostel-opening/

Marilyn Barrett

Tuesday 10th of July 2012

I haven't hosteled in awhile, sadly but I saw hostels in Europe while on a term abroad in college. I stayed in a few ski hostels at that time in Switzerland. my first US hostel in Syracuse, NY introduced me to trips offered by hostels when I took some visiting Swiss friends to Jay Peak and Mt Tremblant. Later, I went to Connecticut to become a AYH leader and met Bill and Ruth Nelson, whose name graces the new Boston Hostel dining room. From there I spent 6 years traveling and staying in hostels in the Midwest and in Europe. Eventually, in 1981, with the help of friend Bob Johnson, I opened a summer travel hostel in Northfield MA named for Isabel and Monroe Smith, who started hostelling in the US. Then I welcomed travelers and got to be part of the northeast US network. For many years, whenever my family traveled, we looked up hostels and stayed on our way. Washington DC and NYC are two which are great for groups. My all time favorites are in Switzerland near Interlaken in the Alps and Amsterdam. Best luck with your travels. May the road rise up to meet you

Lillie

Tuesday 10th of July 2012

What a great comment! You bring up a fact that many people don't realize: Some fantanstic hostels are actually in the U.S.! And how wonderful that you have had such extensive travels!

Christine Y.

Monday 21st of May 2012

My house isn't that pretty. That makes me sad.

Eli

Thursday 14th of July 2011

The Rambutan is a tiny independent hostel in Granada and is my favorite out of my many travels. http://www.rambutangranada.com/index.html Nicest people ever and an amazing view of the Alhambra from their patio.

Additionally, the backpackers hostel in Budapest was fantastic. Looks like it has changed a bit in the past 8 years (the Rambutan looks exactly the same from the website) since I didn't see them advertise hammocks or outdoor sleeping areas (which were awesome and like a dollar a night) but the place was great then and still looks good now. Definitely go on their caving adventure. http://www.backpackbudapest.hu/

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