If you are new to hostels, they can be frightening at first concept- shared rooms with a dozen or more strangers? Some would never dream of it. As a seasoned traveler, I can tell you hostels are absolutely the way to make friends, save significant money, and get better local advice. One day I will give up the hostel life and travel like an adult, but for solo travelers on a budget, this is the way to go. While I have had rough hostel experiences, I have had many exceptional ones that far outweigh the bad. If someone told me about a fabulous hostel, I would almost visit a city just to stay there. This is a running list of some of my favorite hostels from around the world.
Balmer’s Hostel– Interlaken, Switzerland
Switzerland is incredible for many reasons and Balmer’s is truly a home away from home. Cozy is rarely a word I would use to describe a hostel, but the cold mountains require this place to warm things up. There are two things I really fell in love with here. First of all, the water is 100% potable in Switzerland, meaning you can drink crisp, cold water from any tap or public fountain. This makes refilling water bottles or needing to take meds at bedtime really easy. Water in hostels is not something I would usually consume.
The second thing I adored about Balmer’s was their Ikea duvets. It was quite chilly during my stay and I was skeptical that the bed situation wouldn’t be warm enough as we literally had a wood shutter window looking at the snow-capped mountains, but that duvet was a red and white checkered dream. I tried to find the same one at Ikea in the states because I loved it so much!
Overall, this location is very central for walking to town, meeting tour groups, and there is even a nightclub attached if you like a little evening entertainment.
Wombat (Naschmarkt)– Vienna, Austria
The Wombat is fairly iconic among travelers. If someone hears you went to Vienna, the first question is usually “did you stay at the Wombat?” It is that good. There are actually two Wombats in Vienna, but the Naschmarkt location is a little more centrally located in the city. As the name implies, it sits across from a large, pedestrian-friendly food market. There is also a Hofer next door, which is the Austrian version of Aldi, making it really easy to get some grocery goods or drinks.
The two things that stood out to me in this hostel were the ambiance and the security. The lobby has an open, retro feel with plenty of cushioned seating to lounge around and do computer work. My particular room had a beautiful view overlooking the Naschmarkt, providing some classic European scenery. The locker situations are also really well-done in the rooms. They are easy to use and have a modern system that doesn’t require your own lock. I felt totally safe as a solo, female traveler. There is also a small bar attached to the inside that is the right size for socializing without being too nightclub-y.
It also helpful to know that this hostel is easy to get to from the airport. Once you figure out the train line from the airport, the city train station is just a short walk to the hostel.
Viajero Hostels- Cartagena & Santa Marta, Colombia
Viajero Hostels has had eight locations, and counting, to perfect their hostel experience. Since the two I stayed at were very different but equally spectacular, I would feel confident in recommending any of their locations throughout South America.
Cartagena is hot hot hot, and more expensive than most of Colombia. Accommodations were definitely pricey compared to Medellin. This was the most affordable place I walked in to without compromising quality. The consistent weather makes this hostel great because of the open air, shaded patios for people to lounge around in. There is also AC in the rooms- this is very important in Cartagena!
The Viajero location in Santa Marta is a saving grace in a hot oasis. This hostel was beautiful, pretty new, and extremely clean. Santa Marta is very hot and dry, so it is a real treat to have an affordable hostel with a pool. This is probably the best hostel I have ever stayed at. To do it again, I would choose to try their hostel up in Tayrona for more activities in the area. But, as far as warm retreats go, this place is a cheap vacation!