The world’s 21 best offbeat hostels

BY DAN VINEBERG

21. Hostel Franz Ferdinand – Sarajevo, Bosnia

Sarajevo, Mijacka

The walls of Hostel Franz Ferdinand are covered with war-era maps and pictures that will be sure to impress any history buff.

Its name is a reference to the Archduke of Austria, whose murder is remembered as the event that started the first world war. The bridge where Ferdinand was shot dead is just a short walk from the hostel.

But don’t think that’s all this hostel has going for it.

Franz Ferdinand was one of the cleanest and comfiest hostels I’ve ever stayed in. Its spacious bunk beds are actually built into the wall, and if you’re lucky the staff will meet you in the morning with a smile and a shot of rakija (fruit liquor).

Image credit: Websi 

20. Freeborn Hostel – Timisoara, Romania

The hostel life. #romania #timisoara #freebornhostel #backpacking #travel (danvineberg.com)

A photo posted by Dan Vineberg (@thenewtravelblog) on

Another city that’s off the radar for many European backpackers is Timisoara in West Romania. But with its hearty meals, old-world architecture, and good value, Timisoara is worth adding to any backpacker’s list. Besides all that, it has Freeborn Hostel!

Freeborn Hostel has a hammock in the back and an unmistakable hippie vibe. Freeborn will attract creative types with its easy-going and helpful staff, the turkish coffee simmering in the kitchen, and its eclectic mix of guests. A great hostel provides a “home away from home”. That’s what you will definitely find with Freeborn, a unique hostel that, much like Timisoara, may be a hidden gem in Eastern Europe.

19. Friendly Bike Guest House – Portland, Oregon, USA

Friendly Bike Guest House in Portland Oregon

Speaking of home away from home, how about a hostel with “friendly” right in the name? The Friendly Bike Guest House is geared at that active traveller, and offers rental bikes to explore Portland, perhaps the most bikeable city in the US. Portland is full of bike trails, and the pacific north west’s climate ensure it’s never too hot or too cold. This clean and modern hostel is a great place to start your journey.

A hipster-mecca, Portland’s official slogan is “Keep Portland Weird”. There’s no better way to explore the weird and the offbeat city than on two wheels rented from the Friendly Bike Guest House.

Image credit: Friendly Bike Guest House 

18. Hostel Celica – Ljubljana, Slovenia

Cells in the Hostel Celica

Okay, so history and hipsters aren’t for everyone. I can tell some of you are ready for the real offbeat, so let’s take a trip to Ljubljana. You might not be able to pronounce it, but if you can make your way to Slovenia’s capital you’ll find a prison that’s been converted into a party hostel.

“We like to eat well and party hard,” Celica’s website tells us, so maybe this trip to prison won’t be so bad. Most people want to forget the nights they drink too much and sleep behind bars. This time, make it a memory you never want to forget.

Party activities at the Hostel Celica, Slovenia

Image credit (both): Hostel Celica 

17. Lucky Ds Hostel – San Diego, California

luckydshotel-cr-luckydshostel

When I visited Lucky Ds, it was during the 2014 World Cup. I was bunking in a room with three Irish guys who had been there for weeks. The room looked like a hurricane had run through it and there were empty bottles everywhere.

“You’re going to hate us, Dan”, one of the lads said the day I moved in.

But I didn’t hate them at all, I became one of them. There’s a bar just downstairs from Lucky Ds, and we would all go down and watch morning matches. Later in the day, Lucky Ds offered a host of activities, from pub crawls, to beach days, to trips to the San Diego Zoo.

At night, everyone joined together for communal meals. It truly felt like living in a college dorm. If you’re after an easy stay in the always sunny San Diego, I highly recommend Lucky Ds.

Just be warned – this is the sort of hostel where 2 or 3 days can quickly become 2 or 3 weeks.

Image credit: Lucky Ds Hostel 

16. Sydney Harbour Hostel – Sydney, Australia

Sydney Harbour Hostel, Sydney Australia. Overlooking Sydney Harbour.

One thing you don’t usually expect to get from a hostel is a spectacular view. You’ll occasionally find a hostel with a rooftop patio that looks above neighbouring buildings, and of course you can find many hostels near the beach in sleepy little towns. But a postcard-worthy view of a global city like Sydney? Too good to be true, right?

Wrong! Sydney Harbour Hostel overlooks the city’s famous Opera House, and has a great look at the downtown skyline. It was also ranked #2 on Lonely Planet’s list of Top 10 Value Stays for 2014. Those who booked an expensive hotel in Sydney for a nice view, eat your heart out.

Image credit: Sydney Harbour Hostel 

15. Capsule Hostel Patong – Phuket, Thailand

Capsule Hostel Patong

Capsule hostels are unique concepts that put you in a capsule in the wall instead of a bunk bed in a traditional room. This allows the hostel to have a row of beds filling a hallway, instead of traditional rooms.

It’s a great place to get a goodnight’s sleep after parting in Phuket. While it’s not the most social choice, this capsule hostel makes up for it with an unbelievable common area. Capsule Hostel Patong also has hot tubs and saunas, so if you’re looking to relax or recover after a night of Chiang Beers, it’s definitely the place to be.

Image credit: Capsule Hostel Patong 

14. Home Backpackers Hostel – Valencia, Spain

Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain

Imagine being woken up by the sound of gun fire every night. Now imagine that, every day and every night, for two weeks! It’s not a civil war, it’s Las Fallas.

Las Fallas, or “The Fires” is a festival that takes place every spring in Valencia, and Home Backpackers Hostel is in the center of the madness. The small, friendly hostel faces a square that holds an enormous, wooden piece of artwork. There are twenty such structures around the city, and on the last day of Las Fallas they are all set on fire.

Home Backpackers Hostel offers you the chance to not just experience Spanish culture, but to immerse yourself in it. If you plan to make it your home during Las Fallas though, don’t delay: when I stayed there some guests immediately booked their rooms for next year the day the festival ended.

Image credit: Joe Calhoun   

13. Wombats City Hostel – Budapest, Hungary

Wombat Hostel Bar in Budapest, styled the traveler's bar

Once a four-star hotel, Wombats City Hostel is now a spacious and modern hostel in the heart of Budapest. It has friendly staff, modern design, a buffet breakfast, and an enormous ground floor full of places to hang out.

When you see Wombats for yourself, you’ll wonder again if you didn’t accidentally enter into a hotel. But don’t worry, budget nomad: this is an affordable hostel, and it’s one of the best in Europe. Plus, there’s something undeniably cool about walking down a staircase in a hostel that looks like it belongs on the Titanic.

Image credit: wombats-hostels.com 

12. Samesun Backpackers – Venice Beach, USA

Samesun Backpackers, Venice Beach

When you’re staying at Samesun Backpackers you’re on the literal doorstep of Venice Beach. The famous beach is known as being California’s capital of weird, so just a stroll down the boardwalk will be an adventure. There will be street artists, performers, and quite a few awesome taco stands.

Just beside it is the beach itself, where California surfers go to catch some rays. In case you need a break from the sun, the hostel organizes a lot of other activities too. When I was there we all took a trip to the bar downstairs that hosts open mic comedy nights with some of Los Angeles’ rising talent.

Image credit: Daniel Vineberg 

11. Sant Jordi Sagrada Familia – Barcelona, Spain

Sant Jordi Sagrada Familia in Bacelona, Spain

“More than a hostel, a life experience” reads a sign by the entrance of Sant Jordi’s.

When you book a stay, you quickly realise why. People here are easy-going and he communal dinners every night need to be tasted to be believed.

Sagrada Familia is a skateboard-themed hostel, and in addition to having an actual half-pipe in the hostel (are you kidding me?!) you can also rent your boards for 5 euros a day.

Even if you don’t skateboard (most guests don’t) you’ll be sure to make friends here. Plus, if you’re looking to explore Barcelona’s legendary nightlife, the staff at Sant Jordi’s organizes pub crawls – every single night!

Image credit: Daniel Vineberg 

10. Reggae Mansion – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Reggae Hostels Malaysia

You know a hostel is special when you ditch the hostel you booked because you hear the music from another hostel flowing down the street.

This happened to me in Kuala Lumpur, when I switched to the incomparable Reggae Mansion.

The building truly is a mansion, an enormous white structure that has a rooftop bar with live DJs and rooms with as many as 32 bunks. That’s right, 32 to a room. Luckily the bunks are built into the wall, and you have your own light and outlet, so I didn’t find it to be an issue.

If you’re looking for a party in Malaysia, the offbeat Reggae Mansion is definitely the spot to be.

Image credit: Reggae Hostels 

9. Dar Dadiclef – Chefchaouen, Morocco

Dar Dadiclef in Mexico

Next let’s go to the hills of Morocco, where the weird gets weirder.

Chefchaouen is a small town that has exploded over social media in recent years because of how picturesque it is – nearly everything in the town is painted blue.

There’s debate over why this tradition started, and even the locals can’t seem to agree. Religious reasons? To keep the bugs away? No one seems to know. But no hostel does a better job of keeping in character than the beautiful Dar Dadiclef.

Maybe it’s all the calming blue, but life is easy-going in Chefchaouen. The staff even let my friends and I sleep on the roof when there weren’t any beds available.

Dar Dadiclef in Chefchaouen is an experience you will never forget.

Image credit: Daniel Vineberg 

8. Hostel Riad Marrakech Rouge – Marrakech, Morocco

One of the greatest stays I've had in Morocco

Moroccan hospitality has earned the North African country two spots on this list. Hostel Riad Marrakech Rouge is rated as one of the top hostels in Africa, and you’ll soon find out why. As you enter you will be greeted with fresh mint tea, and possibly the smell of Moroccan hookah that guests smoke most nights.

Besides being mesmerized by the hostel’s unique decorations and Arabic music, it’s also a great place to plan a trip to the Sahara Desert. Fairly priced excursions depart from the hostel every day.

If you chose to stay at Marrakech Rouge, it’s a bit hard to find, so a staff member will meet you in the town’s main square and guide you through the ancient alleys of the medina. Watch out for donkeys and motorbikes.

Image credit: Daniel Vineberg 

7. The Captaincy Guesthouse – Brussels, Belgium

Sleeping rooms of The Captaincy, Brussels

 

Certainly the oldest hostel on the list, “The Captain’s House” as it is also known, was built in 1694. Your door will creak as you open it, and you’ll feel as if you were transported into a long past era.

The owner and his daughter run the hostel with pride, and offer nice breakfasts where guests all sit around a long table and eat delicious Belgian pastries.

Image credit: The Captaincy Guesthouse  

6. Pai Circus Hostel – Pai, Thailand

As we enter into the top 6, we are well and truly into the most offbeat of the offbeat.

Introducing Pai Circus Hostel.

It’s easy to see why this place is the talk of the town for backpackers in Pai.

The Thai town is known for its hippie presence, and the Pai Circus Hostel embraces this to its fullest.

There are trampolines to jump on during the day, yoga classes, and fire shows at night.

Watch their video to see what the hype is all about.

5. Amicitia Hostel Boat – Amsterdam, Netherlands

A photo posted by Federico Fabi (@poverofabi) on

I’m on a boat! I’m at a hostel!

Not two sentences that often mean the same thing, but such is the case at Amicitia Hostel Boat in Amsterdam. The famous Dutch city with its canals is perhaps the best place to have a “Hostel Boat”.

The boat’s deck is its common space, and a bar inside the boat offers Dutch-style breakfast every morning.

Well located for night life seekers, this boat isn’t far from the Red Light District.

4. Long Son Mui Ne – Mui Ne, Vietnam

Long Son Mui Ne hostel beach resort - get your tent ready!

Mui Ne is known as being the windiest spot in Vietnam, and as such it’s a mecca for wind-surfers. Whether you’re chasing adrenaline or not, you’ll find Long Son Mui Ne to be a one-of-a-kind hostel to spend your visit.

A short motorbike ride from town, the hostel is a beach resort that offers the chance to camp in tents set up right by the beach.

Make no mistake though – this isn’t a fancy resort. It’s full of a young crowd of backpackers, and at USD 7 for a tent, it’s very easy on the wallet.

Image credit: Daniel Vineberg 

3. Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel – near San Francisco, California

Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel, near San Francisco California

This old lighthouse and signal watch building have been converted into a quiet and peaceful hostel, just down the highway from San Francisco.

For all of the parties and the pub crawls, sometimes a backpacker just wants a nice, affordable place to rest their head. This lighthouse Hostel is near the beach, offers complimentary breakfast, and has an epic view of the Pacific Ocean.

Image credit: Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel  

2. Railway Square Youth Hostel – Sydney, Australia

Railway Square Hostel Sydney YHA

Travelling by train can be one of a budget traveller’s most memorable experiences. So why not sleep in one, at the Railway Square Youth Hostel in Sydney. Each dorm room gets its own train car.

Railway Square Youth Hostel also has a great location, just by Central Station. So if you sleep in on your last day, you might still have time to catch that real train ride you need to be taking.

Image credit: yha.com.au

1. JumboStay Airplane Hostel – Stockholm, Sweden

Jumbo Stay Hostel is hosted in an actual Boeing 747

Topping off our list is the one, the only, the JumboStay Airplane Hostel in Stockholm. In a moment of genius or madness, the owners took a decommissioned 747 Jumbo Jet and turned it into an incomparable hostel.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Image credit: Jumbostay.com

When hearing about this hostel, it’s easy to think: “Great, just what I wanted after a 10-hour flight, to get back on an airplane.” But with a stylish cafe, 27 rooms, and plenty of common space, you’ll see that this is no ordinary airplane.

Located right near the airport, this hostel is especially convenient for those who might have an early or late departure. JumboStay offers 24-hour reception and offers a breakfast buffet from 3am to 10am.

It’s more expensive than most hostels, and don’t expect any pub crawls. But based on the ingenuity of the concept and the surreal experience it offers its guest, JumboStay tops the list of offbeat hostels.

Prices range from SEK 450/night (EUR 49) to about SEK 1850/night (EUR 200), for the cockpit experience.

 Dan Vineberg is a long-term budget traveller from Canada. He’s also a freelance writer, vlogger, and founder of thenewtravelblog.com.

What are your friendly tips? Don’t be shy. Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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