My Favorite Australian Hostels

Building on my post about my favorite New Zealand hostels, it’s time to talk about my favorite hostels in Australia. I’ll continue doing this throughout the year, and at the end of the year, will have a “Best Hostels of 2010” edition.

Base St. Kilda (Melbourne)

hostels in australia
I’ve said in the past that Base is like the McDonald’s of hostels. You get full, but you’re not really satisfied. Yet McDonald’s (Base) outdid themselves with their Melbourne hostel. It’s my favorite hostel in Australia. The bar is lively every night, and there are BBQs and events during the week. Moreover, the rooms and bathrooms look really nice and are clean. But people come here for the atmosphere and location. This is the premier party hostel in Australia. It’s located in St. Kilda (a great going-out area), and since people come here to party, everyone is very social and looking to interact with people. Within moments of my arrival, I had a group of friends to spend time with. I went there during my first trip to Australia and went back this year to see if it was still good. It did my memories justice.

Wake Up! (Sydney)
hostels in australia
Wake Up! is, in many ways, like a backpacker hotel (à la many Base locations). With its eight floors, hyper trendy and clean look, and small common areas, you might think it would be hard to meet people. It seems like outside your dormmates, people here are just ships passing in the night. But that’s only half true. The large size does make it sort of hard to meet people outside the common areas or your room, but the big bar down stairs (biggest night is Monday) lets you meet all the people you see coming and going. I really liked my time there and I especially enjoyed the high water pressure in the showers and uncreaky beds.

Surf N Sun Hostel (Surfer’s Paradise, Gold Coast)

hostels in australia
Located in the Gold Coast, you’ll get both surf and sun at this place. A converted motel, this hostel has really friendly staff, a pool, a central location, and is right across from the beach. All good things. Plus they offer a free pick up from the bus station. The owners are these old backpackers who hang out in the hostel once in awhile and are really friendly. Another plus: at the time I was there, it was the only hostel in Surfer’s Paradise that didn’t have bed bugs. They often have free drinks and BBQs for guest too. I ended up staying an extra week there simply because I was having such a good time.

Tinbillys (Brisbane)

hostels in australia
This place has a great location—right across from the Brisbane train station. There’s nothing that really makes this hostel AMAZING. In fact, it’s not even on my list of favorite hostels in the world. But the was staff friendly, the location in Brisbane was great, the facilities were good, and the bar had great specials that even attracted locals. Bunk hostel is also nice, but their lack of a common room just doesn’t do it for me. Tinbilly’s is the only place I stay in Brisbane.

The Kimberly Klub (Broome)
hostels in australia
This hostel is amazing. They have an enormous pool, a huge outdoor area, a gigantic kitchen, a great location close to the beach, and a small, cozy bar that you can order great meals from. Moreover, when the heat of Broome really gets to you, there are hammocks to lie on. They offer shuttle service to famous Cable Beach for free, and the hostel is a close walk to town. What I really love is the huge kitchen. Even during peak time cooking time, you have plenty of room to move around. I hate cooking dinner in hostels because there’s never space and you’re always bumping into other people cooking. Not here. I wish all hostel kitchens were this big.

Witch’s Hat (Perth)
hostels in australia
The Witch’s Hat is located near the main party area in Perth, Northbridge, as well as near many good restaurants. The staff is really friendly and can really help you with any travel bookings or related questions. There’s a great kitchen and common room here, plus an outdoor BBQ area, comfortable dorms, and a very social atmosphere.

These six are my favorite hostels in Australia, but I’ve stayed in other hostels that I found good and enjoyed. Good runners up include Base Magnetic Island (ugly hostel but amazing pool, outdoor area, and location), Nomads Noosa (friendly staff, lively nightclub, big pool), and Calypso (great staff, decent pool, and good food, though a little far from town) in Cairns.

When in Australia, I highly recommend you stay at these hostels. For me, a good hostel has all the amenities a budget traveler needs, friendly staff, a good interactive environment, and comfortable beds. These hostels meet all those requirements. That’s probably why they’re always so full!

For more help planning your trip, check out my guide to Australia travel.

  1. We loved Wake Up, too! It was super clean and the beds were comfortable. Our favorite Aussie hostel though was the YHA on Magnetic Island. You can see the pictures on our site here but basically, they provided you with an A-frame bungalow that you either had for yourself or shared with others dorm-style. The property is located on an animal preserve so you get to see lorikeets fed in the afternoon and hang out with koalas during the day if you do their tour. The only negative is that the internet really stinks at that hostel — but that’s a problem with Oz, in general.

  2. Hey Matt,

    Cheers for the Wake Up! shoutout – loving the photo too… that good looking guy to the right behind reception is a (younger) me.

    Hope to see you back here again soon!

    Cheers, John @ Wake Up!

    • NomadicMatt

      Thanks John! I did enjoy myself there! Nice to see someone from wake up came across my little site!

  3. Wow – I had the exact opposite experience at the Base in Melbs. Might’ve partially been my dorm-mates, 6 Irish guys who were loud all night (even after I partied til pretty late myself) and then slept all day, but even besides that, I did not have a great experience. The bathrooms were DISGUSTING in the common areas, the promotional events, tho good ways to meet people, were pretty disappointing, and I found the hostel to be so big that I never really made a connection with any other travelers, just tipsy, shouted, half-remembered conversations in the bar. True, I tend to prefer smaller, locally owned hostels, but I would definitely not recommend Base unless people were looking to party & hook up & nothing else.

  4. Bill

    Cheers for the info. How do you choose these hostels? are they recommended by people or do they let you try them out in exchange for write-ups? Also are these reasonably priced hostels? what are the dorms like? did you meet people there? can I have a bit more info, I’m about to head to Oz.

  5. The bar at Base, Melbourne is the most vial and disgusting gin joint I’ve ever come across. It was full of the type of drunks you see back in high school. The floor was so sticky I actually lost my flip-flops in there as they got stuck to the floor!

    I didn’t stayed there — I only visited the bar to meet a friend — so I can’t comment on the rooms, but if the majority of the punters in the bar were likely candidates for room-mates, I’d stay well clear!

    • I’m with Ant. I stayed there in February because I was impressed by all the stuff they have to offer, like all girl rooms, internet, bar and huge kitchen, but I didn’t get to enjoy any of it. The night we got there there was a flood that covered the car park (where the generator was located, causing the power to go out), kitchen and common room were. They told us this had never happened before so they didn’t know what to do, but a neighbor told us this happens all the time. Peoples cars were ruined, no warm showers, no internet, no lights, no breakfast except cereal. We got a refund for the nights we wouldn’t be staying after we finally decided to leave. The main problem was that they put handicapped guests on higher floors with no way to get them to their rooms once the elevators were shut down (strangers had to carry them) and they kept the bar open during the entire fiasco, so you had loud, drunk backpackers with nothing to do but run around the hallways. I hope they’ve got their shit together now.

  6. Ben

    Another vote for Surfs N Up! Surfers paradise is home to A LOT of shitty hostels. One of the places I really regretted not booking upon arrival. Surfs N Up has great location and an awesome pool!

  7. Ashley

    I actually just got back from Australia about a week ago – I kind of went on a whim, Down Under Answers was offering some great deals on plane flights so I thought what the heck, booked my ticket! but then I had to find a place to stay…

    and boy I wish I’d read your article beforehand! I ended up staying at a Travelodge which was nice, but I was thinking of staying in a hostel and decided I wasn’t comfortable enough to.

    Now I have a list of where to stay for next time I go!! Thanks Matt!

  8. I must admit to absolutely hating Wake Up in Sydney with a passion, the worst hostel I have stayed in during my 10 visits to Australia. I prefer small cosy boutique style hostels in general, Wake Up is not a hostel, it is more like a prison with the most tiny uncomfortable rooms and the tiniest kitchen ever.

    Traveller’s Oasis in Cairns and Beaches of Broome in Broome are my two favourites, Kimberley Klub in Broome is also really nice.

    • NomadicMatt

      Well, I enjoyed it. But I agree with you on the hostels in Broome. Both are amazing. I prefer Beaches to Kimberley Klub but both are good.

  9. Shaz

    There used to be a great place called the Witches Hat in Northbridge in Perth which I used to stay, but that was some years ago!

  10. Hi Matt,
    Base at Airlie Beach is in centre of town and by all accounts is more like a hotel than a hostel.
    Great site with pool surrounded by trees. Breakfast they tell me is basic.Not even coffee!!
    Pop in next time you are up this way.
    Your Travel Blog is one of the best I have seen.
    Keep up the good work.
    Cheers, Alf.

  11. Jay Kane

    Would you ever think of staying in a vacation home with a group of friends instead of staying in a hostel? I use sites like HereStay and HomeAway to find rentals, but am thinking of traveling in groups to cut down on costs…thoughts?

  12. Hey Matt,

    Banjo’s took over an existing hostel last December and are continually undergoing renovations to make us one of Perth’s top hostels. Make sure you come see us to say G’day the next time you are passing through.

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