The World’s Best Hostels For Solo Travelers

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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.

The Roadhouse
Prague, Czech Republic

Photo: The RoadHouse Prague/Facebook

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.

Soul Kitchen
St. Petersburg, Russia

Photo: Soul Kitchen Hostel/Facebook

“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

Photo: Cozy Nook Hostel/Facebook

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

Photo: Adventure Queenstown Hostel/Facebook

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
Porto, Portugal

Photo: The House of Sandeman Hostel and Suites/Facebook

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.

Hostel Lullaby
Chiang Mai, Thailand

Photo: Hostel Lullaby Chiangmai/Facebook

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.

Hostel Majdas
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Photo: Hostel Majdas Mostar/Facebook

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.

Star Hostel
Taipei, Taiwan

Photo: Star Hostel/Facebook

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

Photo: USA Hostels Ocean Beach/Facebook

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.

Adventure Q2
Queenstown, New Zealand

Photo: Adventure Q2 Hostel/Facebook

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
Lisbon, Portugal

Photo: We Love F****** Tourists/Facebook

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. 

Italy’s Abandoned Villages Plan To Save Themselves From Ruin By Selling Homes For $1 Or Less

See Business Insider Article Here
By Aria Bendix

With its quaint fountains, ancient churches, and proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, the Italian village Ollolai may seem like the ideal refuge from city life. In reality, it’s losing people at an alarming rate as residents trade the historic hamlet for bustling metropolises.

In a last-ditch attempt to save itself from ruin, the town opted to sell its abandoned homes for 1 euro (about $1.14) each, starting in 2018. In exchange, owners must renovate the properties within three years — a process that could cost about $25,000.

Read more: 8 cities and towns where you can get a home for free — or buy one at a massive discount

“My crusade is to rescue our unique traditions from falling into oblivion,” the village’s mayor, Efisio Arbau, told CNN.

Almost a year after the program was announced, interest continues to boom. According to Magaraggia, a law firm that advises people on how to buy, sell, and manage properties in Italy, Ollolai received 5,000 requests for its first 100 properties. The program is now oversaturated with demand and has been temporarily put on hold as the government searches for new properties to sell.

Gangi homes 2Gangi has a population of less than 7,000.

The Ollolai initiative is part of a larger program called “Case a 1 euro,” meaning “houses at 1 euro,” which aims to lure new residents to sparse villages in places like Sicily, Tuscany, and Sardinia.

In 2015, the small Sicilian town Gangi began offering free homeswith a similar set of caveats: Buyers had to develop renovation plans within one year and carry out the plans the homes within three.

More recently, the Sicilian village of Sambuca started selling homesowned by the local government.

“We’re not intermediaries who liaise between old and new owners,” Sambuca’s deputy mayor and tourist councilor, Giuseppe Cacioppo, told CNN. “You want that house, you’ll get it no time.”

The homes cost 1 euro and range from 430 square feet to 1,600 square feet. Like other villages, Sambuca requires homes to be renovated within three years of purchase. The village also asks for a $5,700 refundable security deposit.

By mid-January, 10 houses had been sold, with much of the interest coming from foreign buyers in Europe.

Gangi dollar homesAn Australian director and producer visits a 1 euro home in Gangi.

Though the discounted homes have yielded considerable attention abroad, some potential owners remain put off by the hidden costs.

A woman from Melbourne, Australia, previously told Business Insider that she traveled nearly 10,000 miles to purchase a 1 euro home in Gangi, only to discover that the home would cost her $17,000 in fees and permits before any renovations could be done.

“I stayed there for a week and looked at all the ones that were for sale,” she said in 2015. “They were all terrible and needed to be knocked down and rebuilt.”

The homes often show visible signs of neglect, including crumbling walls, rotting wood, and overgrown landscapes.

For some, fixing these issues is a small trade-off for an Italian address. Renovations might also improve the resale value of a property, though home flipping is uncommon in Italy, given thatresidences are often passed down from generation to generation.

Gangi homesA house that was on sale for 1 euro in Gangi as of September 2017.

In the case of European buyers, they could also be investing in the strength of their countries’ economies.

As Italy weathers a recession that began in late 2018, the nation has been forced to borrow money from European banks. Nations such as France, Germany, and Spain own the largest shares of Italian debt, making them particularly vulnerable to a financial downturn in Italy.

While the Italian real-estate market is only one contributor to the nation’s financial crisis, the continued fall in property prices has placed even more strain on the nation’s economy.

Even the state government has sought to reduce its financial struggles by listing abandoned properties.

In 2017, Italy’s State Property Agency offered to give away more than 100 castles, farmhouses, and monasteries to owners who volunteered to transform them into tourist destinations.

Around the same time, the mayor of a remote village offered discounted rent and a $2,100 cash incentive to people who agreed to move there. He later retracted the offer because of excessive demand.

Best Travel Tips And Vacation Spots For 2019

See Forbes’ Article Here
By Richard Eisenberg

The Polar Vortex this week was good for one thing: giving many of us incentive to ponder where we’d like to vacation to get away from the big chill. Soon! After spending two days at The New York Times Travel Show in New York City recently, I have some suggestions as well as ways to save money when you take a trip in 2019.

Where to Go in 2019

“The world is on sale,” said Mark Murphy, president and CEO of Travalliance Media. “The dollar is strong against every foreign currency. If you ever thought about going abroad, 2019 is the best time.” Murphy said traveling abroad is 30 to 40% cheaper, based on the dollar, than 10 years ago. But he had a caveat: airfares. “The most expensive thing you’ll do is fly. But when you’re on the ground, things are dirt cheap.”

Pauline Frommer, editorial director of the Frommer’s travel guidebooks and co-president of FrommerMedia, reeled off her annual list of the best places to go. Among her picks, which she said are “less expensive than usual or have special celebrations going on or are under the radar but about to pop big:”

Tahiti  “It’s a great year to go there believe it or not,” Frommer said. “The new airline French Bee is doing direct flights from California for a fraction of what others charge, so there’s a major airfare war going on. Prices are sometimes 30 to 40% lower than a year ago.” Frommer recommend tourists visit the nearby Austral Islands — “Tahiti as Gaugin would’ve experienced it, where you stay in guest houses on the beach. It’s not Bora Bora where you might spend $400 or $500 a night. Here, it’s more like $100.”

Matera, Italy  “This is the year to go to one of the longest continually inhabited places on earth,” said Frommer. (Mel Gibson used the setting as a stand-in for Jerusalem in The Passion of the Christ.) A city of caves, “Matera will be one of Europe’s Capitals of Culture in 2019, with 1,000 artists descending and putting on artworks, dance, opera, and theater. It will be amazing to be there,” said Frommer.

New York State  “We think our home state is one of the best places to go in 2019,” Frommer said. “It has more ski resorts than any other state and more improvements the year, with better trails, snowmaking and resorts.” Also, she noted, in March, New York City will begin opening the largest real estate development in U.S. history, 28-acre Hudson Yards (what Frommer’s calls “the grandly envisioned, multi-tower mini-city”), an indoor-outdoor arts complex with an Escher-like climbable sculpture called The Nest. The Jackie Robinson Museum will open downtown, too. And there are two big, 50thanniversaries: June’s Stonewall Inn gay rights uprising, which will be marked during WorldPride NYC (“Madonna is rumored to be performing,” Frommer said), and Woodstock 2019 coming August 15-18, two concerts to be held at the site of the original rock concert.

Singapore  “It became famous this year in the hit movie Crazy Rich Asians,” Frommer noted. “You’ll see cutting-edge, wacky architecture, with vertical gardens and elevators big enough for a car. But the real reason is it’s a culturally-rich place and a very unusual one, with some of the best food on the planet. And it has the most inexpensive Michelin-star restaurant on earth — a noodle shack where you can eat for $1.80.”

Frommer said a few spots have become overrun with tourists, though, and had alternatives for them: Instead of Iceland, go to the nearby Faroe Islands. Skip Bali and go to Komodo Island instead. In Thailand, rather than sunbathing on May Beach, head to the Similan Islands. And ditch Dubrovnik for Rovinj, also in Croatia.

Rudy Maxa, of public television’s Rudy Maxa’s World, said “I really like Uruguay. It’s quite unspoiled and it’s not a place Americans talk about a lot.” He also talked up the former Soviet republic of Georgia. “It’s my new favorite place. I expected grim Soviet-style buildings and grandmas with babushkas. I was surprised. It’s an incredible value for the American dollar and has five-star hotels for $189 a night and dinner for two for maybe $33. But it’s a little tough to get to; I had to overnight in Istanbul.”

How to Save on Flights and Hotels

Saving on airfares Kurt Knutsson, aka “Kurt the Cyber Guy” from Fox & Friends, says the site where he starts looking for airfares is Google’s ITA Matrix, which shows “every single seat for sale for the best price and experience.” He also recommended the Donotpay.com travel site. “It’s an amazing resource. You sign up free for a flight and they watch the fare. If it’s worth re-ticketing between the time you bought it and the time you’ll travel, they’ll alert you,” he said.

Frommer said her company’s search for the lowest airfares had the best results with the Momondo and Skyscanner.net sites. “They whupped the competition,” she noted.

Book airfares on Sundays and avoid purchasing on Fridays, Frommer said. She cited an Airline Reporting Corporation study that found you can save 17% buying on Sundays and pay 12% more on Fridays.

Also, she said, for the lowest fares, it’s best to book flights six to eight weeks in advance. ‘You won’t save booking seven or eight months out.”

Saving on hotels A few websites are especially good for finding hotel deals. Frommer’s picks: Booking.com, and for Asian trips, Agoda.com. If you don’t mind using an opaque site (think Priceline) where you don’t know in advance which hotel offers the lowest price, Frommer recommends BiddingTraveler.com and TheBiddingTraveler.com.

Also, look for an anniversary deal at resorts and hotels. “Many resorts offer really nice anniversary packages,” said Nancy Barkley, a Philadelphia-based travel planner and founder of Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways. “They may offer a complementary romantic dinner.”

And see if you can get a free night by staying an extra day. “You might be able to pay for three nights and get the fourth free at a luxury hotel,” said Matthew Upchurch, chairman and CEO of the Virtuoso network of luxury travel agencies.

11 More Travel Tips

Be careful about “New Distribution Capability” or NDC. This travel-industry online pricing program “will shape how you book airfares in coming weeks,” said Frommer. Essentially, NDC will let airlines track you better to learn how you’ve booked tickets in the past “and then give you what they think you want and what will give them the most money.” The problem? If you’ve bought tickets for work, and paid for, say, priority boarding and a checked bag, the airline will assume you’ll pay that higher price for a vacation and only show you that fare, Frommer noted. To avoid NDC, Frommer advised, “be anonymous when you search for travel online and clear your history and cookies. It’s the only way you will see the true prices.”

If you want a tour, check out marketplace websites that vet tour operators. Frommer recommended Tour Radar, StrideTravel, Viator and Evaneos.net.

Know the differences among river cruise companies before you book a river trip. Frommer said Uniworld, Tauck and Scenic are “over the top” lines. By contrast, Emerald Waterways, Croisieurope, Grand Circle U and Vantage are budget lines.

Scrutinize a travel insurance policy before you buy it. Travalliance’s Murphy said it’s essential to read the fine print so you’re not unpleasantly surprised that the policy doesn’t cover what you expected. “It ought to have trip interruption insurance to cover you for prepaid items if you don’t fulfill the trip. Be sure it picks up costs if your airline cancels on you and you need a hotel or meals.” Frommer likes the Squaremouth.com site, which searches for the best travel insurance policies. “Never buy travel insurance from the same people you’re buying your travel from. If they go belly up, you’ll lose the cost of the trip and the insurance. And you’re paying them a commission that’s more than if you go direct,” she said.

Consider using a travel agent — now called a “travel adviser” — to get luxury-travel perks. Upchurch, of the Virtuoso network of luxury travel agencies, gave an example. “A client called about booking a three-night stay at the Aria hotel in Las Vegas, after finding an ‘awesome’ rate online and asked one of our travel advisers to beat it. The adviser said: ‘I can’t beat the rate; my rate is $20 more per night, but if you book with me, you get breakfasts included and a VIP upgrade and a $100 resort credit, so the value of the stay is much better. You’ll pay an extra $60 total for a three-night stay in exchange for $200 in value.”

Spend money for a private guide when traveling abroad. “If you’re going to splurge on one thing, do it on a private guide who can take you places where you can’t go otherwise or wouldn’t have gone — a local who knows the ins and outs so you’re not waiting in lines,” said Barkley. If you need to find one, ask your hotel’s concierge, she added. And, Upchurch said, you may be able to get a guide for 20 to 40% less during the week than on a weekend.

Try “high/low” eating when overseas. That, said Upchurch, means you might go to a Michelin-star restaurant lunch (where prices can be half those at the same place for dinner) and then have street food for dinner.

Know whether haggling is expected or shunned. “In some parts, it’s expected and it’s a nice thing to do, going back and forth. When I was buying jewelry in India, tea was brought out,” said Daisann McLane, a former New York Times Frugal Traveler columnist. “I wouldn’t try doing it in Paris.”

When packing a suitcase, lay on the top a printout with your name, address, phone number and email address. That way, said Liam P. Cusack, managing editor of Cruise & Travel Report, “if your baggage tag gets ripped off and your bag gets delayed by the airline, they’ll be able to know how to find you.”

Be sure your passport is valid for at least six months after you plan to travel. If it’s not, Cusack said, you may be denied boarding on your flight.

Buy an AirSelfie, said Knutsson. “It’s a drone with a camera that you can fit in your pocket. You download the app and throw the AirSelfie up in the air and it takes aerial pictures of you for a minute or two and then comes back to you,” he explained. The AirSelfie2 sells for $199.95.

Seeking Travel Suggestions!

Hiiii Everyone! I recently was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to choose a trip to ANYWHERE in the world & I can’t begin to narrow down choices!

I would super appreciate anyone’s suggestions ~ the location can be ANYWHERE – & the time of year/cost/distance isn’t a factor. I currently live in Portland, Oregon… if that matters.

I’ve been to a few countries in Europe (Italy, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands) I am OBSESSED with Italy, but want to try to branch out to new places!
Other placessss I’ve already been: Costa Rica, St. Martin, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Canada….

Can’t wait to hear some awesome ideas!!!!

Texts are welcome too! @ 503.217.4223