My Favourite Hostels in Europe

While I usually prefer CouchSurfing, there were several times in Europe that we opted towards hostels.  A good hostel can really make a city for you, whether the staff are able to give you an insight into the local culture, or the people you meet give you an entirely different and unexpected experience there.  I’ve had a number of bad experiences in hostels (bedbugs, anyone?), and some pretty good ones, but there are some hostels which I would recommend again and again. So here they are, in my opinion, the three very best hostels in Europe…

3. The Garden Backpacker – Seville, Spain

The atmosphere of this award-winning Spanish hostel is built around the multiple communal areas; it features a living room (equipped with classical guitar), its namesake outdoor garden, and a rooftop terrace.  We checked in knowing very little about this hostel, so we were pleasantly surprised to find out about the unlimited free sangria each night between 7 and 9 at the bar in the outdoor garden.  The helpful staff pointed out all the best places to see and eat around Seville, and were always available if we had any questions about the area or local culture.  The hostel is close to several sights, including the German designed Metropol Parasol, as well as plenty of small local bars and eateries where you can enjoy a paella in the sun.  The staff offer free tours of the city, and while we didn’t go on any, we heard from other guests that they were quite informative. After a few sangrias and Euro cartons of vino tinto, we found ourselves chatting to other guests in the garden well into the night at this clean and affordable hostel.

2. Old Town Lagos Hostel – Lagos, Portugal

Old Town Lagos Hostel may be the craziest hostel I’ve ever stayed at.  Centrally located, just minutes away from Lagos’ biggest bars and famous beaches, you’ll never have to walk far for a good time.  When you first check in, you’ll be greeted by Hugo, an outrageous and outspoken Portugal native with a penchant for party.  Depending on his mood, he might even offer you a beer on the spot.  The rooms are clean and well-equipped, with large lockable chests to store your luggage.  The staff are happy to take you out to a local club or to tell you all about their favourite Lagos beaches.  Be careful though, as you might get sucked into the weekly game of King’s Cup.  You’re sure to make friends while laying around on beanbags on the hostel terrace which overlooks the water.  If Hugo ever offers to help you cook dinner, DON’T pass up the opportunity.  Oh, and they also have Vegemite.

1. Budapest Bubble – Budapest, Hungary

To those who have been following my travels, it’ll come as no surprise that the Budapest Bubble comes in at number one.  This fresh hostel, located between Kálvin tér and Astoria, is one my favourite places on Earth.  With three guest rooms – an eight bed dorm, a six bed dorm, and a double private room – the Bubble is quite intimate, causing most guests to gravitate towards the common room, a quaint lounge with a sofa, table, and adjoined guest kitchen.  This means you’re likely to become acquainted with other all the other guests quickly.  This is also facilitated by the friendly and lively staff, who will all greet you with a huge smile when you walk through the door.  I’ve made more friends at this hostel than I can count, including Gene, a Californian live-in staff member and foodie who knows just about everything there is to know about local cuisine and night life, and will more than likely accompany you to at least one of Budapest’s fantastic restaurants and unique clubs.  The team will happily organise events for the guests, including caving, spur-of-the-moment nights out to both well-known bars like Fogas ház and smaller lesser-known ones, group dinners, and of course the infamous Sparty… But they’re also cool to just sit around and chat over a few Drehers.  Budapest is one of my very favourite cities, and if I could recommend any one place, it’d be here.

Honourable Mentions:

  • Five Elements Hostel – Frankfurt, Germany
  • Funk Lounge Hostel – Zagreb, Croatia
  • Lisbon Chillout Hostel – Lisbon, Portugal