During 4 years of European travel, I’ve stayed at more hostels than I can count. 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. They are a wonderful way to meet other travelers, stay somewhere for cheap, get the lay of the land, and, overall, have a fun travel experience. A good hostel can be as memorable as the city you are visiting.
Below is a list of my favorite hostels in Europe:
(Update 2015: All these hostels are still my favorite. See the bottom of this post for additional resources.)
Kabul (Barcelona, Spain)
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!
The Flying Pig (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
What I love about this place is the people. The facilities here are standard (though they have some of the best pillows I’ve ever put my head on) and the hostel is on the expensive side but I love the atmosphere here. 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 are always happy and helpful. 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. 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?
City Backpackers (Stockholm, Sweden)
This is one classy hostel with an incredible café and outdoor eating area. The hostel has very comfortable beds, pillows, thick walls so you don’t hear your noisy neighbors. I always get a good night’s sleep here. They also have power outlets everywhere, the place is covered in wifi, and I couldn’t turn a corner without bumping into a public computer. Moreover, there is laundry, a huge common room, and a sauna. It’s pretty much the perfect place!
Francescos (Ios, Greece)
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!
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. 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, Belgium)
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, 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, 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.
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 who knows what travelers like and want and creates a hostel that really caters to their needs.