Hostels in Europe: Where To Stay and Which Ones To Avoid

It’s that time again! Time when people start planning out their Spring Break or summer vacation trips. Which means its the time that a lot of people are thinking about backpacking through Europe. Well, if you’re looking to find some good hostels during your stay, here are my reviews of the places I stayed at when I was backpacking last summer. I know its hard to gauge reviews online because you don’t really know what kind of person they are and what luxuries they’re used to. For me, security, good location and a clean hostel was big on my list (and please please please, clean bathrooms!)

The Good (fabulous, fun, ::breathes sigh of relief::)

Prague –  St. Christopher’s at the Mosaic House

Best. Hostel. Ever. Ok, maybe not ever but from what I’ve seen so far. This place was better than some of the hotels I’ve stayed at for sure. There was a bar/restaurant on the first floor and even a cute movie theater area. The rooms each had its own private bath, and even came with rainfall showerheads – nice touch. Each bed has its set of plugpoints and its own large locker below the bed, and the room lights also dimmed to conserve energy. The rooms are also a decent size – I was in a 6 person room and didn’t feel cramped at all. The location was pretty great too – I walked to all of the sights I wanted to see, and at night there were lots of bars closeby, too. Absolutely recommend staying here, and I will definitely return next time I’m in Praha.

Barcelona – Sant Jordi Sagrada Familia

This hostel was big, had a fantastic living room with lots of comfy seats and a big screen to watch movies. The kitchen was large and there was a common area to gather round and meet people, and about 8 computers for guests to use. Security was good with there always being someone at reception, and the rooms and lockers were accessible by a key card. I stayed in a 8 person room with 7 Aussies (all guys) and while it was a small room I never felt that I didn’t have enough of my own space. Oh, also the bathrooms were pretty great: big, clean and separated by gender – big plus! The downside of this place is the location – it’s a bit outside the heart of the city, and there’s not much going on around at night. But if you don’t mind taking cabs or the metro, you’ll be fine. Also, don’t bother with the pub crawl set up by the hostel – I hear it’s no good.

Kraków – Greg & Tom Hostel

So when I first got here and found out that my room was right at the front reception area and across from the common room, I thought my stay was really going to suck. I was also in a 6 person room and it was a little cramped, and the bathrooms were kind of weird with the showers were separated only by curtains. But then during my three nights there, not only did I love my time in Poland I also really enjoyed my stay there. The hostel is like a guesthouse – very comfortable and quaint, and it feels like you’re staying at a friend’s place. There is always someone that works there at all hours of the day, and the staff is so, so friendly. The staff also cooks breakfast and dinner every night, which is delicious and is also a great time to meet other people who are staying there. I was definitely sad to leave because the people that worked there made it so wonderful, and this hostel is a great example of how the quality of the staff can really make or break your stay.

San Sebastian – Pension Amalur

I loved my stay at Pension Amalur, and it might be because I just had an amazing few days in San Sebastian. After coming from a busy city like Barcelona, it was so nice to get off the train and be in a cute, quiet town. My hostel mates from Barcelona were also staying at the same hostel which was a nice coincidence, and I got lucky because I was in a six bed room but I only shared it with one other guy. The hostel is more of a guesthouse – run out of a large apartment by a nice old man, who is a little flirty but harmless nonetheless. There are probably about 4 or 5 rooms, a mix of private ones and dorm, and I think there are 2 bathrooms. It wasn’t at full capacity when we stayed there, so it was spacious enough. The pension is pretty close to the beach, in a quieter part of town but a short walk away from all the bars. The lockers were small so I couldn’t fit my pack in it, but fortunately I trusted my roommate and had no issues. I would totally stay here again.

Amsterdam – Stayokay Amsterdam Vondelpark

I have to admit, I was a little bummed I didn’t get the chance to try out one of the Flying Pig Hostels in Amsterdam. I heard so much about them and was definitely curious. That being said, the Stayokay in Vondelpark was pretty cool. It’s only a few minutes from the Van Gogh Museum (one of my fav museums ever!) and is very convenient to get to. The room I was in had its own bathroom, and a decent size locker – it wasn’t wide enough to fit my pack but it held all my valuables. The downstairs has a good common area and there were always lots of people hanging out. And the best part – a fantastic free breakfast! Like I’m talking about a pretty good spread.  Would recommend staying here just for that.

The Ehhh (not my favorite, could be cleaner, not raving about it)

Rimini – Sunflower City Backpacker

I feel guilty about putting this hostel on the Ehh list so let me explain. The staff there is great – they include everyone and make sure that you are having a good time. The atmosphere of the place is lively and fun, and I am glad I stayed there. The bad part is that the rooms are old, and the bathrooms are pretty scary. Like shower over the toilet scary. That being said, Rimini doesn’t have that many options for good hostels, so I would assume that this is probably one of the better choices.

Madrid – Way Hostel

I arrived at this hostel at 7am, and while my room wasn’t until that afternoon I was still able to shower and change, and help myself to some of the breakfast (which was limited, but free!) The rooms were nothing special, the bathrooms weren’t that great, and the lockers were pretty small, but the main perk was that it was at a convenient, rather central location – just around the corner from Puerta Del Sol. I was in a 3 person room which was a decent size, but the 8 or 10 bunk rooms looked very cramped. If I had to do it again, I would probably try to find a nicer hostel, but it was really nothing to complain about (and I was only there for one night.)

Barcelona – Sant Jordi Alberg

So on my last day in Barcelona I decided to move to another hostel in a more central location, but stayed with the same hostel chain since I liked the last one so much. While this place was in a more convenient location, the hostel itself was not as nice. I was put in a 4 person room which was right across from the kitchen and next to the common room so it was pretty loud. The bathrooms weren’t that great either. I didn’t mind it as I was hardly in the hostel anyway, and oh they rented out beach towels and I even got one for free since the guys who worked there were so nice.

Paris – St Christopher’s Paris

St. Christopher’s is a good hostel chain, but I wasn’t impressed with this one. First of all, it was in a rather shady part of town. However, it did have a bar and club in the hostel itself so that did make it easy if you wanted to socialize. The rooms itself were nice – each bed had a curtain for added privacy. There were large lockers under each bed so you could fit everything in there, but it was a metal cage and everytime you opened it (no matter which locker you had) it would make a loud noise. I probably annoyed a few of my early to bed roommates when I came in late and had to get stuff out of there. Also, since there were so many people staying in this hostel the bathrooms weren’t kept cleaned. I eventually switched places after two or three nights here.


And The Ugly (run away!)

Brussels – 2GO4 Quality Hostel

Stay away from this hostel! I booked this the night before so I didn’t have many other options in Brussels. The reception closes in the middle of the day, as does the common area – so inconvenient. I was put in a 4 bed room with a private bath, but the bath was out of order the whole time I was there so I had to go use the bathroom in the basement (which was kind of gross to be honest.) I was there two nights, and while I liked Brussels, I definitely did not care for the hostel at all. Note that they don’t accept credit cards!

Florence – New Ostel

So this is a cheap hostel that’s a short walk to the train station. The staff was very nice and they have a good outdoor area to relax and mingle, but I would stay elsewhere if I return. There are no lockers in the rooms, and the rooms are a little outdated. It also took me a while to walk to the main part of the city which was a big inconvenience. I was glad that I was only staying there for one night.

Overall, I should add that none of these hostels were so bad that I couldn’t stay there at least one night. I always had clean sheets (the blankets were questionable at times, but use your own judgement there) and if I had felt unsafe then I would have left. If you are not picky about hostels then I’m sure any of these places will be fine for you – besides, you don’t really spend too much time in the room when you’re traveling anyway! I’d love to hear some of your favorite hostels you’ve stayed at in Europe, too.

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One Response to Hostels in Europe: Where To Stay and Which Ones To Avoid

  1. Love the Recommendations!! Awesome! Heard about Sant Jordi in Barcelona, but never stayed there =) Def recommend Hostel One Prague – the host will personally take you out on the town and it feels like a HUGE cabin with kitchen, upper your own room! and cheap!! Thanks!! :-)

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