Now that sufficient time has passed since the movie Hostel scared the shit out of you, and you may have given our article "Hostels vs. the movie "Hostel"a read, OTP has gathered a list of the best hostels around the world. We're not talking about hostels that try to be hotels: mints on your pillows, spotless showers and room service. The perfect hostel should maintain a level of comfortable dinginess that we backpackers know and love, a friendly staff, safety is a plus, kitchen a must-have and its popularity with other like-minded travelers is key. That established, hostels around the world have been reviewed by everyone and their mothers, broken down into various categories with winners selected in each. To sidestep redundancy, what we're doing here is skimming the cream off the top and bringing it to you, still warm and bubbly, in our list of the top 10 best hostels in the world.
*NOTE : Read about OTP's Review Skew at the bottom
The Villa St. Expuery: Nice, France
Did you get fancy on yourself and go backingpacking through the French Riviera? This is the perfect spot to match the mood. Lonely planet's choice for the Top Hostel for the last 5 years, the Villa screams low budget luxury. Adorned with purple flowers, stained-glass windows and a cheap drink bar, this spot is ideally located for taking in the splendor of the French Riviera. A former monastery, the chapel has been converted to a stylish lounge and the atrium into a kitchen. Grab a few French pastries and soak up the ambiance like backpacking royalty.
Hostel: Granada, Spain
First a word about Granada: this southern Spanish city is incredible and many of its little streets are made up of stairs (so people drive upstairs sometimes). The Oasis Hostel is located at the top of a series of these stairs so wear your best trekking shoes to get there. Luckily, once at the front door, there is a free welcome drink waiting for you at the end of the rainbow. Things that stand out: the big kitchen is amazing (with a matching big table to share your home made meals), a spacious outside patio with barbequing capabilities and a ping pong (easily convertible to a beer pong) table and top-of-the-city views of the Alhambra, the Sierra Nevadas (apparently not in Nevada) and the Arabic quarters (where close-by tea rooms are always a popin'). These guys really hook you up with all kinds of things to make you feel that grimy/luxurious mix of a good hostel.
The Gyreum Hostel: Sligo, Ireland
This hostel looks like a space craft that fell from the sky and got nestled into an Irish hillside. It reminds us of Star Wars (in fact, if you're into that treky stuff, the inspiration for the Moytura Plateau Battle is nearby). If looking cool isn't enough, the Gyreum is also an ecolodge that provides tent accommodations in its giant dome shaped common area. If indoor tents aren't your thing, dorms are available as well. With wi-fi, a sunken fireplace, a beautiful kitchen combined with its unique spin on accommodations, this hostel definitely deserves a good spot on our list.
Rossio Hostel: Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon is a recent chart-topping destination for backpackers. Rossio is this month's number 1 of 10 top hostels (based on hostelworld.com customer votes) and holds down the number two spot of their 2008 best hostel in the world. Why so great? Well some of it has to do with the recent popularity of Lisbon as a backpacker destination but most of it comes from their free tea and coffee all day policy, kick ass breakfast (pancakes, they make pancakes) and extra friendly and helpful staff. According to one review, the place was great but some guy kept trying to sell her drugs at the entrance (so you don't even have to wander the streets looking, which is really convenient and may be a popularity booster for some). Either way, the words best hostel ever appear in more than half of their reviews; can't beat that.
Terrazas Estoril: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Many guides will claim that Hostel Suites Florida in Buenos Aires is the best as it's in the middle of Florida Street, a busy tourist foot path. We say no. In close walking distance of Florida Street (but not right on it), THE Hostel of Buenos Aires is Terrazas Estoril. This hostel is at the top floor of an architecturally amazing 100 year old building. Like a secret getaway, Terrazas sports various roof terraces, tons of communal party space and made the top of hostelworld.com's "10 Best Hostels in Argentina" list. The outside terraces are set up perfectly for weekly barbecues and we must say, that's one hell of a pool guys, good work.
Afraid you'll end up lonely at one of these cool hostels?
La Casa de Las Brujas: Guanajuato, Mexico
Haunted things tickle your fancy? We got just the place for you. Las Brujas is rumored to be haunted with the spirits of a guy that went nuts and killed somebody at the bar and also, if that's not enough pants-shitting for you at night, his daughter was starved to death in the cellar. As creepy as it is, look at the pretty colors and flowers. Apparently, the ghosts ate their website and information about the place is a little difficult to find. Most of their reviews are in Spanish, and since we conveniently speak Spanish, we can promise you people are saying good things. Pack a flashlight and your best scary story and head over to Las Brujas for a haunted good time.
Rygerfjord (Floating Hostel): Stockholm, Sweden
Big on boating? This hostel is a former, fully functional, ship that has been permanently docked in Stockholm on Lake Malaren. Converted into both a hotel and hostel, the ship offers a bar, internet access, bicycle rentals and a great lounge (complete with plushy leather chairs and boaty wood-trimmed paneling decor). According to backpackers, the views of Stockholm from the water can't be beat. Staying on a boat is an interesting change up from land-locked hostels. Few words of advice: wear those orange arm floaties if you plan to party on or off the boat, we don't want you going under.
The Flying Pig Hostel: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam's hostels have gotten a pretty bad rep. They're all said to be dirty, cramped, loud and smelly. That being the standard, The Flying Pig Hostel is that shining diamond in the rough. So what are these guys doing to make pigs fly? Beside their creative piggy graphics, this hostel's motto is one price covers all. So what's included? Precisely: breakfast, linen, internet, lockers, luggage room, tours, info guide and a map. Schnazy. There are three locations, Uptown and Downtown and the Beach. Uptown/Downtown terminology sound New Yorkan to you? Well that's because New York is built on the Amsterdam model and many similarities, Central Park for instance, exist. As far as reviews go, don't be scared off by the mediocre reviews on tripadvisors.com (their customers are more accustomed to hotels so a little hostel dirt is a big shock to these guys). Instead, check out their reviews on hostelbookers.com, where 235 out of 263 "a little dirt won't hurt" type customers highly recommend it.
Alegrias Hostel: Bogota, Colombia:
Who doesn't like to lounge in hammocks? Nobody, that's who. Alegria's is a beautiful hostel hidden behind a stucco wall and a set of colorful blue doors on a small a cobble stone street. With light-infusing glass ceilings, a classic styled kitchen and hammocks in both the central common area and forest-like backyard. An added feature is their private room on the top floor which treats your eyes to a full city view. They also have this amazing bathtub (unfortunately, it's only decorative as the water is frigid). The hostel is located in La Candelaria, an area surrounded by Colombia's most prominent universities where many cool, young and hip Colombians hang out. Also, a short walk from the famous Bolivar square. There is an incredible French pastry shop around the corner where daily entertainment is provided by parrots living in their open villa portion. Although the stone covered floor makes it a bit chilly at night, gently swaying around in their hammocks should get you back to comfy in no time.
Jumbo Hostel: Stockholm, Sweden
What can we say Sweden? First Ikea, then a floating hostel and now a freakin' Jumbo Jet Hostel! Clever, very clever. The Jumbo hostel is basically a Boeing 747 complete with a cafe and 24 rooms accommodating up to 85 guests. Although this turkey of planes no longer flies, it's still a bit pricier than your usual hostel at about $50usd a night. But if you're in the area, we suggest spending at least one night on this baby, and make it a good one...it can be your only chance to join the mile high club before ever taking off.
Given that hostels are supposed to be kind of dingy, a little shady and cramped, any sort of distinguishing factor would propel a hostel to the top of our list. These 10 fine establishments have gone above, but not beyond, to add a little paradise to your backpacking. They have all fulfilled their hostelling duties while still staying cheap and fun with a touch of grime and sacrifice.
*Review Skew: When it comes to hostel reviews, please keep in mind what we like to call the "review skew". A lot of reviews are biased in that people who have bad experiences are more inclined to write a review. People who have great experiences are probably out having more great experiences as opposed to sitting down and diligently reviewing a place.