Article by Nichole Osinski.
We’ve all been there: , you plan a trip somewhere you’ve always wanted to go., You you know the sights you want to see, and the route you want to take but you don’t know where to stay.
Thankfully, as wanderlust has become a global phenomenon, cities, towns, and out-of-the-way villages are catering to each traveler’s unique needs. Whether that be getting you in touch with your adventurous side or simply creating an oasis to come back to after a long day of sightseeing.
Here are six of the best places to stay for the budget traveler who wants not only to see the world but stay in a place they’ll never forget:
Many seasoned travelers have come to the realization that when it comes to roaming the world, a lot of the places you stay aren’t usually the first option for a good meal. But for those who happen to stop in Reykjavik, Iceland, there is one spot that takes the definition of gastronomy seriously. Enter Kex Hostel; once a biscuit factory, this eclectic locale with vintage vibes is where weary globetrotters have been going to refuel with not only great drinks but surprisingly good food as well. Kex is known as a hot spot when you want to forget about dieting and give into every craving with food like grilled chorizo, fried plaice, and oven-fresh bread. It’s easily said that the hostel’s bistro pub is the main attraction, as this is where chefs serve seasonal dishes that cater to every kind of traveler from meat lovers to vegetarians. It’s here, where the aroma of spices mixes with the quiet conversations of patrons, that those trying out the food or ending the night with a few local lagers and ales have found a whole new level of satisfaction.
For anyone traveling to South Africa, visiting Cape Town is a must. It’s a city with incredible views and one of the longest “things to do” lists out there. Knowing where to start and where the locals go is the first step to having a great time, and befriending the people at The B.I.G. is one of the best ways to do just that. All throughout the day staff mingle with backpackers, and before you know it, you might be paired up with Germans and Australians set to hike Table Mountain. The people here are all about making sure guests pack their schedules each day with activities like shark cage diving or kayaking with the local penguins—two trips everyone should make. Some days are meant for spontaneity, which could mean jumping on a bus with a crowd of strangers and taking a full day tour to get a history lesson about the region.
And it’s the location that makes all the difference when it comes to thoroughly experiencing this corner of the country. From the hostel, a day trip can consist of an excursion to the southernmost point of Africa or learning the Five S’s of wine tasting on a vineyard tour through Stellenbosch.
“The B.I.G. has a specific approach when it comes to making the guests’ stay memorable. We do our best to plan the guests’ stay from beginning to end,” said Front of House Manager Milou Staub in an email. “There is a weekly B.I.G.’s Dinner where we cook for the guests and they all gather around the dining table and share stories and laughter, it is a good way to make the solo travelers interact with each other. People walk in as guests and leave as friends.
Not everyone likes when things go bump in the night but it’s all part of the experience at HI-Ottawa Jail This 150-year-old building was once the Carleton County Gaol in Ontario, Canada. While it may have exchanged its prisoners for tourists, it’s still easy to imagine what it might have felt like to be a permanent resident. The former jail houses guests in old jail cells that, while unassuming, are actually quite cozy (depending on how you look at it). What makes staying here a bit more tangible is learning about the building’s history on the daily tours offered. The 30-minute tour covers what life was like for the inmates and, most importantly, just what makes this place one of the most haunted hostels out there: stories which of specters are sure to follow. If you’re feeling a bit spooked, you can go outside for some fresh air and live music on the patio, which is surrounded by a historic 30-foot stone heritage wall. This is where you, and possibly some of the resident ghosts, will enjoy the sound of local bands and the company of your fellow inmates.
Lavender Circus lives up to the whimsy of its name not just because of its charming European-style rooms or homey comfort, but because of its quiet seclusion only romantics will truly appreciate. Though any traveler would feel at home in this historical apartment building in Budapest, Hungary, it’s the couples who seem to have found their niche here while exploring the country’s capital. The metropolis of Budapest lacks no romantic date spots(like the lit up Chain Bridge at night)but you have to give Lavender credit for creating an intimate atmosphere in such a large city. Even the lobby and terrace are like something from out of a storybook, with mismatched lamps, faded pictures, decorated columns, and furniture just begging to be curled up in.
“The hostel is designed by young Hungarian artists, painters, graphic designers, and sculptors, if you come here, quite likely you'll fall in love with the interior,” said Hostel Manager Ádám Szarvas in an email. “Our hostel's most popular spot is definitely the community room, which is a cozy area with a well-equipped kitchen, comfy sofas, small musical instruments, and a very unique atmosphere.”
Couples have also come to appreciate the small details such as the Hungarian wine and typical local shots, known as Pálinka, that Lavender Circus provides. Because, though love might be all you need, a sundowner and a quiet corner won’t hurt either.
Beijing, China: a city full of energy, unforgettable sights, and one of the most culturally rich destinations a tourist could want. But where do you go to get the most out of that culture? You head to the Peking Youth Hostel in central Beijing, which is nestled on a serene hutong within the Dongcheng District, just north of the Forbidden City. The area might not sound familiar to first-time visitors, but as far as locations go, it doesn’t get much better than this. With its network of alleyways, this is one of those places you could easily (but happily) get lost in, only to find yourself buying from local vendors and browsing one-of-a-kind markets, both of which are in abundance.
The hostel itself has an old-world feel with a colorful facade, botanical garden, and a rooftop terrace that is the go-to place for a pristine view while digging into a dessert from the inside restaurant.
What makes this one of the best spots in Beijing is that you’ve got a quiet respite just within reach of all the places you need to see. It’s a welcome sight when coming back from exploring colorful Nanluoguxiang where history, ancient architecture, and exotic finds are always waiting.
Traveling the world with a backpack and not a private jet doesn’t mean you can’t spoil yourself and save at the same time. A lot of travelers want the best of both worlds and hostels, like U Hostels in Madrid, Spain, are making the switch from hotels incredibly easy. What makes this particular hostel special is the design concept that has been implemented into what was once a 19th century palace. In a world of interchangeable rooms, you could say that the hostel is a breath of fresh air with suites that have their own balconies and modern interiors that are one part luxe and another part pure art. Spain itself is known for its combination of contemporary and traditional beauty, and this is reflected in every one of the hostel’s five floors, where minimalism is fused with bold decorating. But staying at a hostel like this doesn’t mean you just get to be immersed in a trendy accommodation; it means you get a personal experience many places lack.
“What our guests enjoy most is the best travel experience that we [can] offer when they come to visit Madrid,” wrote Alvaro Hinojosa, the founder and managing director of U Hostels. “This is why every single detail has been designed in order to improve the comfort of the guest, even without them knowing.”