The five best hostels I have ever stayed at

Not long ago I wrote a piece about the worst hostels I have ever stayed at. In my years of travel, I have managed to pick some awful places – either because I was stuck with no reservations when every single bed in town had already been rented, or because there literally was no other place to stay. I have had my good share of horrible hostels – infested with cockroaches; packed with drunk party goers; and simply rotten and uncomfortable.

Read more about my horrible hostel experiences on my post “My very own top 3 hostel nightmares.” 

Bus as I often I travel long term, I can’t always afford a plush room and I have to pick budget options so that I can stretch my budget for a longer period of time. Besides, although I have had a few bad experiences, I must say there have also been some great hostels, where I slept so well, the staff was so kind and the atmosphere so relaxed that it was actually difficult to leave.

So, here are the five best hostels I have ever stayed at – in no particular order of preference.

Mexico City definitely deserves a visit

Mexico City definitely deserves a visit – photo courtesy of Eneas de Troya (flickr)

Casa de los Amigos, Mexico City (Mexico)

This is what I call the perfect place. Casa de los Amigos, in Mexico City, feels more like a home than a hostel. Not far from Revolución, the area is packed with local eateries and has a very local feel. The hostel is run by a Quaker organization, and in fact all its profits go to support its programs, some of which are in favor of migrants and asylum seekers. Dorms are very spacious, common areas clean and incredibly comfortable. There is a very large kitchen, a living room, a dining room and even a large and cozy library. The staff regularly rans workshops, conferences and interesting events. People that stay at Casa de los Amigos are friendly and always up for a chat.

Right by Hostal Urbano, one of the most interesting churches in San José

Right by Hostal Urbano, one of the most interesting churches in San José – photo courtesy of Alquiler de Coches (flickr)

Hostal Urbano, San Pedro, San José (Costa Rica)

I had only planned to stay in San José, Costa Rica, for one or two nights and ended up staying for over a week, just because I couldn’t bring myself to leave Hostal Urbano. I could not believe how cozy the 12 beds dorm felt. Beds are super large and all come with a built in locker. There are closets to actually hang clothes (that isn’t very common in hostels!). The kitchen is perfectly equipped, so much so that I cooked every night stoking on home-made meals. There is a lovely garden, a small library with book exchange, a game room and a cat and a dog that roam about. Needless to say, the staff is incredibly kind. It was perfect to relax before I moved on.

Who wouldn't want to wake up to this view every day?

Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this view every day? – photo courtesy of Daniel Mennerich (flickr)

La Iguana Perdida, Santa Cruz la Laguna, Lake Atitlan (Guatemala)

Whenever someone asks me for advice on a place to stay around Lake Atitlan, in Guatemala, I say to head straight to La Iguana Perdida, in Santa Cruz la Laguna. This is the smallest of the many villages scattered around the lake, hence the quietest. The hostel is right by the pear. The view from there is – to put it simply – spectacular. There was nothing better to me than waking up at sunrise and having a gorgeous view of 3 volcanoes right in front of me. The dorms are comfortable, there garden is lush with hammocks and recliners to relax. There is a library and a game room and each night there is a family style dinner. Just perfect – and at a great price.

Read about the many things to do in Lake Atitlan on my post “Guatemala lakes and volcanoes: Lake Atitlan.”

Decadent and gorgeous - Leon!

Decadent and gorgeous – León!

Posada la Gordita, León (Nicaragua)

I have a home in Nicaragua, and that is Posada la Gordita in León. This isn’t a traditional hostel with dorms and common spaces. It literally is a home, where Monica, the manager, does a hell of a job to welcome guests, put them at ease and help them have a great time. Rooms are spacious, there is a small but well equipped kitchen and a cozy living and dining room. Location is great – away from the mayhem of the centre, yet just two blocks from it. Every time I visit Nicaragua, I make it a point to spend a few days in León.

Read about the incredible things to do in Nicaragua on my post “Awesome things to do in Nicaragua.”

things to do in Argentina

El Calafate is the perfect base to start exploring Patagonia

America del Sur, El Calafate (Argentina)

I love Argentina. So much so that I every now and then I think I should move there. One of the best memories from my first trip there is waking up at 4 am while in El Calafate, where I was staying at America del Sur hostel. I had to catch the bus to Torres del Paine, in Chile, and as I sat for breakfast, I enjoyed an amazing sunrise. But the view is just one of the aspects of this incredible hostel. Dorms are comfortable and cozy – no more than 4 persons in the same one, and all have a private bathroom. The building looks like a chalet, with high ceilings. Every other night, the staff organizes an asado dinner for the guests who, for a very small price, can enjoy a traditional Argentinian meal. I have met many other travelers at America del Sur. Some of them I still talk to!

Read more about the incredible places to visit in Argentina on my post “Great things to do in Argentina.”

What has been your favorite hostel during your travels? Where was it located? Let us know in the comments below!