During four years of European travel, I’ve stayed at more hostels than I can think of. Ones I won’t ever remember, ones I wish I wouldn’t remember, and ones I wish I could stay at forever. I love hosteling. I’d never want to stay at a hotel as I find hostels great value and easy places to meet people. Here are my favorite places to rest my head when I go to Europe:
Kabul (Barcelona, Spain)
Kabul is tied for first with The Flying Pig (see next hostel) and attracts people who want to go out. This isn’t a quiet hostel where people go to bed. The dorms are very clean, the beds comfy, and the showers high pressured. But what makes Kabul so wonderful is the downstairs common area. The common area takes up a whole floor of the building and comprises a café, bar, tables, internet kiosks, and a pool table. The hostel is always full and booked out weeks in advance, especially during summer.
The Flying Pig (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
What I love about this place is the people. I guess people are important everywhere. The facilities here are standard and the price is a bit expensive, but I love the atmosphere. While this hostel is popular with travelers looking to chill and smoke, the bar area gets very busy at night too. It’s not all about smoking here. But the staff is what does it for me. They hang out with guests, are experts on the city, and will always help you. In Amsterdam, I never stay anywhere else.
Ostello Archi Rossi (Florence, Italy)
They had me at breakfast. I’ve never been to a hostel that had a menu for breakfast. This one does. You can get eggs, bacon, toast, pancakes—the works. It’s not the normal European bread-and-coffee breakfast that makes me sad in the morning. More than the food, the hostel also has character. You can sign your name or draw on the wall, their kitchen is a size of a cafeteria, and they have a great outdoor garden. And did I mention they have a full breakfast?
Aboriginal (Budapest, Hungary)
Like the Archi Rossi, they also had me at breakfast (waffles) as well as free goulash for dinner. The place is centrally located in Budapest, has free Wi-Fi, free laundry, TV, and organizes their own nights out so everyone can meet each other. They do a lot of gatherings, making it great for a single traveler who doesn’t know anybody. The place is small, and everyone gets to know each other very well.
City Backpackers (Stockholm, Sweden)
This is one classy establishment with a very nice café and outdoor eating area. It looks more like a trendy coffee shop than a hostel. The hostel has very comfortable beds and pillows and thick walls, making this one of the few places I’ve stayed where it’s easy to get a good sleep. This is also a great place for people who like to be connected. They have power outlets everywhere, the place is covered in Wi-Fi, and I couldn’t turn a corner without bumping into a public computer.
Francescos (Ios, Greece)
With a view like this, how could you not like this place? There’s pool, a kitchen, very clean rooms, and super comfy beds. The owners are super friendly and accommodating, the porch area is a great place to make new friends, and every night they have a hostel get together so everyone can meet people. The friendly owners who taught me Greek, the relaxed atmosphere, and the beautiful view kept me here for my time in Ios.
Wombats (Berlin, Germany)
I think this place is a bit overpriced. Hostels in Germany are cheap, and even by European standards this hostel is still cheap, but I felt like they charged a lot because of the name. While the beds and bathrooms are pretty standard (all en suite, though!) the rooftop terrace provides great views of the city. On a nice day, it’s amazing to just go stare at Berlin.
Snuffel Backpacker Hostel (Bruges, Belgium)
Close to the city center, this hostel is located in a very old building, which means the rooms are small. It’s also pretty inconvenient to take a shower as you have to go downstairs and then into the back courtyard. However, they have a back courtyard, free Wi-Fi, an amazing selection of Belgian beers (watch out for the 13% alcohol ones!), and bike.
Castle Rock (Edinburgh, Scotland)
Located near the Royal Mile and (you guessed it) the castle, this hostel is gorgeous. The building is old, so you get beautiful wood interiors. It’s like being in an old mansion. The common area features pool tables, TV, newspapers, and free Wi-Fi.
Whenever I go back to these cities, I stay at these hostels. I’m a loyal customer, and if a hostel can impress me, I’ll tend to stay there over and over again. Traveling around, you stay in many mediocre or down right awful places. It’s nice to find a place that knows what travelers want and creates a hostel that really caters to their needs.