Most people think hostel and they think sharing a room with some creepy hippy with a guitar, or that movie where everyone gets chopped up. If you’re travelling on a tight budget, hostels can actually save you a lot of money and maybe even give you the opportunity to meet other really amazing, cool, broke people too.
If you’ve never stayed at a hostel before, they are essentially hotels that offer shared accommodations at a discounted price. People you’ll see staying here are usually between 18-30, and there are generally common areas like lounges and pool rooms that make for a fun experience. If you are travelling with a bigger group, these are ideal since you can book a room and not stay with strangers, otherwise there are hostels that offer rooms for just two or three people, but generally have a shared bathroom. I personally stayed at hostels in Amsterdam and Spain when I was travelling with a friend in college, and it was always a good experience. That being said, I did my research and put together the best hostels across the US so you can save money on your next trip, and hopefully not get stuck with anyone who is a little crazy (and not in a good way).
Miami Beach: The Freehand (2727 Indian Creek Drive, Miami Beach)
This brand new and super chic spot offers private and shared accommodations so you have the option based on your budget. All of the rooms feature interior design by Roman & Williams, and artwork by local Miami Beach artists. They also feature gender-specific rooms so that ladies don’t get stuck with any creepsters. Complimentary wi-fi, continental breakfast, plus tours and daily activities make this a great spot to stay in crazy Miami. It is centrally located right near the beach, and as a bonus they’ve got a great pool that also houses The Broken Shaker – a cool lounge with yummy cocktails. Rooms are about $124/night during season for a quad or single king room (so sharing with 4 = $31/each). www.thefreehand.com
San Diego:USA Hostels (726 5th Avenue, San Diego CA)
This is a highly suggested hostel because of the extra value and fun decor. They offer discounted attraction tickets, fun nights like Taco Tuesday, and discounted bike rentals. It’s in a central location close to the bay with on-site laundry and wi-fi. The free all-you-can-eat pancakes and oatmeal would be enough to have me booked for as long as possible. Rooms start at $75 for privates from $25 for a 6 person share. www.usahostels.com/sandiego
Seattle: Green Tortoise (105 Pike St, WA)
The Green Tortoise has a killer location and a free breakfast buffet every morning. If that’s not enough, they also offer a free dinner three nights a week that I hear is actually enjoyable. You’re right across from the Pike Place Market, and a neighborhood that has great bars and restaurants. All of the other worthwhile attractions are walking distance as well. Rooms for two are about $52 – if you are willing to share with 4 people -$33 – with 8 people -$29. www.greentortoise.net
New York City: Times Square Beds (572 9th ave, NYC)
So NYC is probably the most expensive place for accommodations, which is why hostels usually pretty much suck here. This place gets decent reviews because it has comfortable beds, actually friendly people working there, and a great location. There are only 12 beds so you have to reserve in advance, but it’s worth it for the fact that you’re also super close to the subway stations. This place isn’t amazing, but you probably won’t be spending much time in the place anyway – you’re in New York for god’s sake. Rooms start at $69 per person for two bed room and $75 for a private. www.powerhostels.com
LA: HI Los Angeles/Santa Monica (1436 2nd Street, Santa Monica)
The reason this hostel comes up as the most recommended is because it is super close to the beach, but also close enough to public transportation so that you can get away with not having a car. Its a huge spot, and gets great reviews for being nice and clean and having a fantastic staff that don’t hate their lives. 6 bed share is $40, and a 10 bed share is $36. www.hostelworld.com
San Francisco: Green Tortoise Backpackers (494 Broadway, San Fran)
People really love this spot. It could be the free daily breakfast buffet and complimentary dinner three times a week. It could be the free wi-fi, or maybe the fact that it’s located right in North Beach. There are a ton of public transportation options if you need it – although the area has enough great restaurants and nightlife within walking distance to keep you busy. 3 person dorms from $90 – one bed in a multiple person for $30. www.greentortoise.com
Chicago: HI Chicago Hostel (24 East Congress Parkway, Chicago)
I love Chicago. The city has amazing hot dogs, boutiques, and just a generally cool vibe. This hostel has good sized rooms, free breakfast, wi-fi and tours of the city. Most of the city’s attractions are down town, and the great public transportation means you can do alot without a car. Rates are $32 for shared bed and $89 for privates. www.hichicago.org
New Orleans: India House Backpackers Hostel (719 O’Keefe Ave, New Orleans)
This spot is in a cool historic Victorian building in the Mid City district, a fun neighborhood that is close to all the other areas that you would want to see while in New Orleans. They’ve got a large common areas and a swimming pool/deck that hosts great parties in the hot summer. The restaurant offers inexpensive local food for breakfast, and hosts great barbeques – so you’ll stay well fed. Shared rooms are $17-20 per person, privates are $45/night. www.indiahousehostel.com
Washington DC: William Penn House (515 East Capitol Street, SE Washington)
A great location and facilities make this the recommended hostel in Washington. They offer free breakfast and comfortable beds and a staff made up of actual Quakers… which means there will be no late night ragers in this place. Instead you will be invited to participate in morning meditation services. $40-$50 per person per night. The family rate is $135 per family per night for a family of 4. www.williampennhouse.org
Boston: HI Boston Downtown Hostel (19 Stuart Street, Boston MA)
Boston is another favorite city of mine, and this hostel gets great reviews. Breakfast, wi-fi, evening programs, walking tours and nightclub passes are all included – plus you’re in a super convenient downtown location. Private rooms go for $179 and shared 8 person is $39.99. www.hihostels.com
TIPS FOR FIRST TIME HOSTELERS:
For first-time hostelers, the thought of staying in a hostel can be very intimidating.
1. First thing to do is put your stuff in the room, check out the bed and meet the other people you’re sharing with. Walk around and learn the common areas. This is not the kind of atmosphere to be anti-social – you’ll get a lot more out of your experience if you can come out of your shell a little bit.
2. Choose your room wisely: females will want to pick a female-only room. They are cleaner, quieter and safer. Co-ed rooms may be more fun, but that’s a risk in my opinion.
3. Towels, soap and shampoo are generally not offered in hostels, so make sure you bring this stuff with you. Also keep in mind that the bathroom faciliteis are usually shared, so bring your flip flops to make sure you don’t contract any sort of gross bathroom fungus or something.
4. Earplugs are also a must if you’re sharing a room with strangers since not everyone will be on your same sleep schedule or sleep like a quiet snuggly angel.