Just updated on: 08/02/2018 | August 2nd, 2018
I’ve been staying in hostels in Europe for over twelve years. I’ve probably stayed at close to a thousand by now. Some were wonderful; others I couldn’t leave quick enough. Some have stood the test of time while others have long since vanished. The hostel scene is very popular and established in Europe, and the growing “luxury” hostel trend that incorporates more amenities (and higher prices) for travelers. Hostels today aren’t the hostels you found ten years ago. They are way nice and offer a lot more amenities!
Here are what I currently consider to be some of the best hostels in Europe in 2018:
The Generator is a hostel chain with locations throughout Europe. I’ve stayed in two of their locations — Copenhagen and Dublin — and loved both. The hostels have great bars and restaurants, clean showers, comfortable beds, laundry services, and highly competitive rates (10 euros a night in Dublin!). My only complaints are that the Wi-Fi is often slow and they charge for breakfast, but having stayed in two of their locations, I’d surely stay in others. (They also have karaoke at their Copenhagen location.)
City Backpackers (Stockholm)
I stayed here years ago and recently returned when my tour group was in Stockholm. The place was just as amazing as I remember. They still have a very nice café and an outdoor eating/sitting area. Their beds and pillows are still super cozy and comfortable, plus they have a huge kitchen, common room, sauna, and laundry facilities. And you can’t turn a corner without bumping into a public computer. City Backpackers was and still is one of the top hostels in Europe.
St. Christopher’s Inn Barcelona
Located right near La Rambla, everything about this place is brand new since the hostel just opened in the summer of 2013. I really love the curtains on the dorm beds and the gigantic bar/outdoor area next to the hostel. In general, I really like the St. Christopher’s brand. They offer fun, clean, sociable, and modern hostels all over Europe.
The Flying Pig (Amsterdam)
This is still one of my all-time favorite hostels. The facilities here are standard and the price 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 with people who don’t want to get high. The staff here is what really makes this place special. They hang out with guests, are experts on the city, and are always helpful. Moreover, this hostel has some of the comfiest beds and fluffiest pillows of any hostel I’ve ever stayed at. The Flying Pig has three locations in the city (uptown, downtown, and the new beach location), and I prefer the uptown location because it’s smaller and easier to meet people.
The folks behind the Flying Pig also run Winston’s, another hostel. That place has a great bar and is next to a rock club that showcases a lot of good local musicians. Tell Allen I say “hi!”
Goodnight Hostel (Lisbon)
I stumbled across this hostel in Lisbon (mostly because it was super cheap), and I’m really glad I did. Conveniently located downtown, they offer free dinner and sangria, and they organize nights out. There’s a small common area, and the showers had amazing water pressure. This small hostel becomes very intimate and makes it easy to meet fellow travelers. This was one of the best hostels I stayed at during 2013. They have a sister hostel called Goodmorning Hostel, which I can only assume is just as good.
My second favorite hostel in Stockholm after City Backpackers, this place was remodeled in 2013 and has a brand-new, larger kitchen and common area. They really did a good job, and the kitchen is one of the nicest I’ve seen in a hostel in a long, long time. The hostel is quite small overall, but that provides a close-knit setting for getting to know other travelers.
Gallery Hostel (Porto)
This “luxury” hostel in Porto, Portugal, is probably one of the best I’ve ever stayed in and is definitely a new addition to my “all-time favorite” list. It’s not the cheapest in Porto, but this hostel/art gallery features home-cooked Portuguese food, a backyard, free after-dinner drinks, a game room, and friendly staff committed to making sure everyone gets to know each other. The art on the walls is from local artists and is for sale (for those not traveling on a budget). I loved the nightly dinners they organized the best.
Hostel Mostel (Bulgaria)
This hostel has locations in three cities in Bulgaria (Sofia, Plovdiv, and Veliko Tarnovo), and they all follow the same principles: comfy beds, free breakfast, free dinner, free beer, free shots, a pool table, and free, fast Wi-Fi. I honestly haven’t ever seen a hostel offer so much free stuff to travelers. Usually everyone stays at all the Hostel Mostel locations, so you run into the same people frequently. I found them booked up a lot, so book in advance if you want to stay here.
Kismet Dao (Brasov)
Probably the best hostel in Romania, it had a great backyard to relax in, a fairly decent breakfast (Frosted Flakes!), a large and clean kitchen, comfy rooms, and a huge common area. I didn’t like the showers, as there wasn’t a lot of privacy (think gym style) but overall, this place is social, in a good location, and checks all the right boxes on meeting a traveler’s needs.
The Yellow (Rome)
The Yellow is just a fun hostel. There’s no common area, so everyone hangs out in the bar downstairs. People come here to socialize and party. It’s a loud hostel in that respect, but since the party is separated from the main area, you don’t really hear much in the rooms. They have great security, high water pressure in the showers, comfy beds, and decent enough Wi-Fi. They also run walking tours throughout Rome.
Tallinn Backpackers (Tallinn)
This hostel is for those who want to come to Tallinn and party, which I didn’t really do while I was there. But I still found the hostel to be wonderful, because the beds were comfortable and the staff really put an emphasis on getting the guests get to know each other and interact. They do a nightly pub crawl, before which everyone gets together in the large common area (which they shut down at 11pm, so people who don’t want to go out can get some sleep).
Euphoria Hostel (Tallinn)
Because I like to book things last-minute, I had to switch hostels a lot during my stay in Tallinn. While Tallinn Backpackers is a great place for the party scene, Euphoria is perfect for relaxing. Owned by some hippies, this place has a relaxing feel. There’s a lot of colorful art on the walls, bean-bag chairs, soft music, and a quiet atmosphere. It was a good change from Tallinn Backpackers. Plus, I really enjoyed the fact that the owner’s band plays a free concert every week.
Central Station (Kiev)
Not so much a hostel as a series of apartments in the same building, Central Station is a true hostel’s hostel. It’s got gigantic dorm rooms, a few showers, a tiny kitchen, and a little common area. It’s mostly the spirit of the place that makes it cool: activities every night, really friendly staff, and that tiny space that forces everyone to socialize and meet each other, not just sit behind their computers.
Greg and Tom’s Party Hostel (Krakow)
I came here on the strength of a friend’s glowing recommendation. What I liked about this hostel was that on the one hand, there’s a strong focus on taking full advantage of Krakow’s lively nightlife. On the other hand, they have two separate buildings, so if you want quiet at night, you can stay in the non-party building. They offer free breakfast, they cook you a meal every night (salad, potatoes, pasta, or meat), they have Nintendo Wii and Playstation, and there’s a large movie collection. But what I loved the most was the massaging showers. It was the best shower I took in months.
Kabul is tied with The Flying Pig (see next hostel) as my favorite hostel in Europe. It attracts travelers who are looking for a good time. This isn’t a quiet hostel where people go to bed. If you come to hostel, be prepared to party. They have a lively common room area and organize nightly outings. The dorms are very clean, the beds comfy, and the showers high pressure. 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. Here travelers eat, play pool, drink, and hang out – and the people here want to hang out. It’s a good hostel for a solo traveler because everyone here wants to make friends. The hostel is booked out weeks in advance, especially during summer, so don’t book last minute!
Ostello Archi Rossi (Florence)
They had me at breakfast. I’ve never been to a hostel that had a menu for breakfast. 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. It’s a full on hearty breakfast! More than the food, the hostel 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 where you can kick back with a bottle of wine! And did I mention they have a full breakfast?
With a view like this, how could you not like this place? There’s a pool here, kitchen, very clean rooms, and 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 (free shot included). They also organize pub crawls (because it’s Ios and everyone comes here to party). It’s also the most centrally located hostel on the island so it’s easy to walk home…even if you’ve had one two many drinks!
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. However, while the beds and bathrooms are pretty standard (all ensuite 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)
Close to the city center, this hostel is located in a very old building which means the rooms are small and it’s 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 Belgium beers (watch out for the 13% alcohol ones!), and bikes.
Castle Rock (Edinburgh)
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, stone staircases, and a very “old” royal feel. It’s like being in an old mansion. The common area features pool tables, T.V., newspapers, and free wi-fi. They organize events, dinners, and the staff is really nice.
Sophie’s Hostel (Prague)
This more upscale hostel in Prague is one of my favorites. The room is quite modern with lovely bathrooms, comfy beds, and incredible water pressure. The bar is always lively, they serve a large breakfast, run lots of events, and the staff is super friendly, helpful, and knowledagble.
Hostel Blues (Bratislava)
This awesome hostel is incredible staff, a great breakfast, huge common area, is centrally located, and really clean dorms and bathrooms. I had a lot of wonderful nights here. It’s a funky hostel with nice art on the wall. They have good kitchen area too!
So there you have it: my current favorite list of the best hostels in Europe. Europe has thousands of hostels – and god knows I feel like I’ve stayed in all of them but only a few dozen are follow the guidelines that make a hostel truly great. These ones go out of their way to provide stellar services and make their guests feel welcomed and at home.