If there’s one thing I’ve learned staying in literally dozens of international hostels, it’s that the term “hostel” is a very broad classification for the wide range of accommodations that bear the label. Hostels can be fun, welcoming and even stylish or dark, dreary and borderline sketchy.
Usually, whether you get one of the best hostels or worst hostels depends purely on luck. Staying in any of the seven international hostels I list here, my very favorite ones in the world, all but guarantees an amazing sleep.
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America del Sur Hostel in Buenos Aires, Argentina
From its glass-front lobby to its professional receptionists to it elevators, the America del Sur Hostel in Buenos Aires’ historic San Telmo district seems more like a hotel than like a hostel. The extensive breakfast buffers, which features a variety of sweet breads and cakes to supplement cereals, fresh juices, meat and eggs adds to this impression.
San Telmo is charming and wonderful, but if you want to get out, that isn’t a problem: It takes just 10 minutes to get to the Independencía station of the Buenos Aires Subte. Or, if you’re feeling more energetic, you can walk all the way up Avenida Maipú to Plaza San Martin, which is in close proximity to Retiro bus station, Avenida 7 de Julio and the Brazilian consulate, if you’re planning a trip to Brazil after Argentina.
America del Sur Hostel also has a branch in El Calafate, located in Patagonia, so if you plan on visiting southern Argentina, you can inquire at the front desk about room pricing and availability.
Hostel Riad Marrakech Rouge in Marrakech, Morocco
The funky Hostel Riad Marrakech Rouge was a sight for my sore eyes when I arrived in Marrakech after nearly a full day of travel. Over the five days I spent there on three separate occasions, I found the hostel to become even more pleasant.
As is the case with all hostels on this list, the Hostel Riad Marrakech Rouge has a great location — in this instance, just a few minutes’ walk from the center of Jemaa el-Fnaa square in the center of the Marrakech medina. The hostel’s walls and other furniture are positively awash with intense, dramatic crimsons and scarlets — they aren’t kidding when they say “rouge” — which adds a welcoming brightness to the hostel.
My favorite part about the hostel, besides it amazing staff and complimentary Moroccan mint tea, is its open, rooftop terrace, which provides awesome views of the city around you.
Loki Hostels in Argentina, Bolivia and Peru
I have personally stated at three of the four (soon to be five, once Loki Hacienda opens in Salta, Argentina!) Loki Hostels in South America. They’re all great for different reasons.
Loki Cusco, for example, feels like an adult summer camp in the high Andes, located up a hill from the historical center of Cusco. Loki La Paz, on the other hand, is housed in a building that evokes 1930s glamour and provides easy access to La Paz’s bustling city center. Loki Lima is situated in the heart of the city’s cosmopolitan Miraflores district and is a nice balance of comfort and convenience.
All Loki properties include great staff, full food and alcohol menus and plenty of activities to keep you busy even when you’re not exploring South America. For more detailed information on the Loki Hostels in Cusco, La Paz and Lima, read this post I made back in April.
The Oasis in Granada, Spain
Located in the heart of Granada’s city center, The Oasis Backpacker’s Hostel came highly recommended to me by Nellie, who runs the fabulous WildJunket blog. Although The Oasis benefits greatly from its location, which places it at walking distance from the majority of attractions, bars and restaurants in Granada, there is far more to love about this little gem of a hostel.
As if the rooftop terrace and outdoor patio lounge aren’t enough, The Oasis boasts its own bar, which feature hookah, a full range of liquor and beer and glasses of homemade Sangria for under two euros each. Hungry? The hostel staff cook a special dinner almost every night, available at a low fixed rate and with a glass of sangria typically included in the price.
In addition to helping you find your way around the city center of Granada, the receptionist can arrange discounted tickets to Alhambra, as well as a number of excursions outside of Granada, such as to nearby Hot Springs.
Sim’s Cosy Garden Hostel in Chengdu, China
Owned by a Malaysian traveler named Sim and his Japanese wife Maki, Sim’s Cosy Garden Hostel is definitely cosy and literally has a garden in the middle of it, two qualities you’ll appreciate after a few days in hectic Chengdu.
Accommodation-wise, you can choose to stay in a small or large dorm or, if you’re traveling as a couple in groups, in private rooms with ensuite bathrooms that seem more like hotel rooms than hostel rooms. In addition to the included breakfast, Sim’s has a full-service restaurant to meet your culinary needs ’round the clock. To be fair, I don’t believe you will have any being in Chengdu, the epicenter of delicious Sichuan cuisine.
After sorting out your itinerary within Chengdu, the staff at Sim’s will be happy to facilitate travel to other nearby attractions, including the Chengdu Panda Base, Emei and Qingcheng Mountains and even Tibet.
Travellers House in Lisbon, Portugal
When I made my booking for the Travellers House hostel in Lisbon back in November, it was literally the highest-rated hostel in the world. Within a few minutes of arriving in its lobby, I knew exactly why.
The staff — and in particular Jurgen, the manager from Noway — are absolutely incredible and go out of their way to make you feel welcome. He was nice enough to draw out the route for a photo-friendly walking tour of Lisbon without me even asking, having noticed my camera.
You’ll receive more information that you know what to do with on events, such as nightly pub crawls and special lunches and dinners to supplement the excellent breakfast service. The location of the hostel is also amazing, on Augusta Street just minutes from Baixa-Chiado, the de-facto center of Lisbon.
Wake UP! Cairo Hostel in Cairo, Egypt
As I mentioned in my recent photo essay about the country, the sun rises extremely early in Egypt — before 5 a.m. during the summer, if you can believe it. I would like to think this is where the hostel’s “Wake UP!” name comes from.
The great part about it is that whether you “wake up” at 5 a.m. or 5 p.m., the first thing you see out your window is a view of the Cairo skyline and the Nile river. Wake Up! Hostel is located in close proximity to Tahrir Square, the Egyptian Museum and the Nasser station of the Cairo Metro in case you want to go somewhere that isn’t easily reachable by foot.
Breakfast isn’t much to write home about, but who cares? The excellent staff at Wake Up! make up for it with their candor, sweetness and knowledge about Egypt. They’ll be happy to arrange a day for you at the pyramids of Giza, Egypt’s “other” pyramids or even a comprehensive tour of southern Egypt.
No matter which of these amazing seven hostels you decide to make your home when you travel, I absolutely guarantee you’ll fall as in love as I have. If you do decide to book, please click one of the links within this article or use the HostelWorld booking tool in the sidebar. I earn a small commission from each transaction and would very much appreciate it.