ANECDOTALLY, IT SEEMS like solo travel is the new “it” way to see the world. But even if your Instagram feed isn’t filled with pictures of people climbing mountains by themselves, numbers don’t lie. Hostelworld — the worldwide mavens and aggregators of everything hostel-related — found a 42 percent increase in solo bookings over the past two years. A remarkable number given how popular hostels were for solo travelers to begin with.
Each year, Hostelworld filters through over 1.2 million hostel ratings to come out with its annual HOSCARS awards, its ratings for the best hostels in the world. As solo travel booms, this year’s HOSCARS included awards for the best worldwide hostels for solo travel, as well as awards specifically for solo male and solo female travel, the best of which you’ll find here.
Prague, Czech Republic
This modern-décor-meets-old-brick hostel near the Charles Bridge in the Mustek section of Prague sits along cobblestone streets and architectural marvels, perfectly situated for solo exploration. That said, if you’d like a little help discovering the city, The Roadhouse organizes daily activities like sightseeing and attending music festivals. Inside the hostel, you’ll be plenty entertained with Netflix and Wii in the common area. Or, if you’re tired of socializing, each bed comes with a privacy curtain and a reading light.
St. Petersburg, Russia
“The Soul Kitchen in St. Petersburg” sounds a little like a Florida restaurant with killer shrimp and grits, but it is, rather, the top-rated hostel in Russia. The cool, white brick interior sits inside a 150-year-old Neo-baroque building, set gracefully on the banks of the Moyka River. You can take in the waterfront view from the hostel’s balcony or enjoy the indoor amenities from the funky reading room or TV lounge. If the hostel’s name inspires you to cook, the kitchen boasts one of the more unique hostel stoves you’ll find, where an antique 19th-century wood burner has been converted to run on gas.
Cozy Nook Hostel
Da Lat, Vietnam
You’re not sitting in the lap of hosteling luxury at this spartan, wood-accented hostel in the heart of Da Lat. But assuming you’re ok sleeping on a clean, firm wooden bunk, this might be one of the best hostels in the world for immersing yourself in local culture. The owners pride themselves on giving guests a true sense of Vietnamese hospitality, which includes nightly dinners and Vietnamese cooking classes where you source ingredients from the local market. Cozy Nook also offers plenty of ways to get out and explore the city, including motorbike tours, canyoning, and trekking through the nearby mountains.
Adventure Queenstown Hostel
Queenstown, New Zealand
The folks behind Queenstown’s most popular hostel were experienced backpackers who took the best things they found in hostels around the world and put them in one cozy, 49-bed establishment. The stone façade gives the place the look and feel of a mountain lodge, with balconies to enjoy the view out over Camp Street and a dining room looking onto Lake Wakatipu. Adventure Queenstown is especially appealing to solo travelers because it offers organized activities five nights a week, from pool nights at a pizza joint to Mario Kart competitions. So even if you’re not in town for hard-core adventure, you can find people to spend time with.
The House of Sandeman
For wine lovers, you may not find a more perfect hostel than the House of Sandeman, set atop the Sandeman wine cellars, across the Dom Luis I Bridge from the center of Porto. The world’s first branded hostel boasts fantastic views of the River Douro, whether from nine of its exquisitely decorated suites or from the George Restaurant and Bar. The rooms all feature hardwood floors and expansive windows, so you can enjoy waking up to scenes of Porto’s unique and eclectic architecture. And, of course, you can visit the Sandeman Cellars and taste port wine, a tradition that dates back to 1790.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
The common area at the Hostel Lullaby is one of the more unique you’ll find in a hostel, a large glass greenhouse that feels a bit like socializing in the Southeast Asia section of an indoor conservatory. If that conservatory served free snacks and had a patio with yoga classes. Cool as the greenhouse is, if you tire of spending your days there, you’re also a short walk from Chiang Mai’s most famous monasteries at Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang. Once you return, you’ll be laying on one of the hostel’s five-star pillow top mattresses, providing one of the most comfortable hostel sleeps you’ll ever have.
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
The accommodations at the first hostel to open in Mostar after the civil war of the 1990s are perfectly clean and comfortable. But the reason to stay at the Hostel Majdas isn’t so much for the beds or the cake Majdas herself makes. It’s the tour. Bata’s Crazy Tour is without question the most immersive, personal tour of this former wartorn city. Bata takes you through the city, up to a mountain waterfall, and into a local home, interspersing the journey with unbelievable stories from the turbulent war years. Since people often stop in Mostar during a summer holiday to Croatia to dip their toes into Bosnian culture, this tour is the perfect way to learn a lot about the country in a short amount of time.
The modern Asian design we see in American luxury hotels is largely drawn from the sort of everyday décor on display in cities like Taipei, and nowhere is this more obvious than at the Star Hostel. Here you’ll walk through bright common areas with floor-to-ceiling windows, dotted with tropical plants and light woods. The Green Lounge is like a serene Asian spa where you can meditate while sitting on the floor and gain a sense of calm even when other travelers bustle around. The rooms are similarly done up in simple woods and whites, and though not as luxurious as Asian-inspired hotels back home, the Star Hostel is equally aesthetically impressive.
USA Hostels Ocean Beach
San Diego, California
The lone stateside hostel to make the cut is this psychedelically painted spot on Newport Avenue in San Diego’s Ocean Beach. In addition to being literally seconds from the sand, the hostel does more to help you explore the city than most full-service hotels. On Sunday, you can take a shuttle to the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, and Downtown San Diego. Twice a week the hostel shuttles guests to hiking at Cowles Mountain and also offers a twice-weekly shuttle to La Jolla. It’s got a weekly beer pong tournament, a beach bonfire with s’mores, and a farmers market out in front. So for a cheap beach vacation to Southern California, this is easily the best option you’ll find.
Queenstown, New Zealand
This smaller, more centrally located offshoot of the Adventure Queenstown Hostel gives the same worldly, laid-back style as the original in a much more action-packed location. It sits just across from the popular Village Green, which means that by day you’ll be able to stroll outside and enjoy a beer with other leisurely travelers and by night be able to walk feet to the nearest bar. You won’t find much in the way of private rooms here, either, so be sure to wear yourself out bungee jumping, hiking, hang gliding, and generally risking your life so your roommate’s snoring won’t keep you awake.
We Love F. Tourists
The “F” stands for exactly what you think it does, which at first glance might make it an unlikely pick as the best hostel for female solo travelers. But top the list it did, as this Lisbon hostel set at the juncture of Praca de Figueira and Rossio squares rates highly in nearly every category. The location is prime, about five minutes from Barrio Alto and Cais do Sodre, and walking distance to the museums, parks, bars, and restaurants of the Alfama neighborhood. The hostel organizes walking tours and pub crawls of the area, so you can make the most of the location without any guesswork.