The most expensive part about traveling is usually not the airfare. When you take into account the cost of ground transportation, dining out and accommodation, you’re looking at a big chunk of change. That said, these things don’t have to wipe out your bank account. If you haven’t considered hostels before, you should. Some of these from around the world will offer a lot more than just a bunk for sleeping.
Milhouse Hostel — Buenos Aires, Argentina: If you’re looking to party in Buenos Aires, Milhouse occupies two beautifully restored historic Argentine homes in the heart of the city and they’re where you want to be. The bars offer full menus, free breakfast and happy hour specials (and they're where they also host parties every night). Chill in the computer lounges or on their rooftops and, once you’re settled, consider Spanish lessons, free Tango classes or embark on one of the many tours.
Compay Hostel — Montevideo, Uruguay: If you’re looking for a chill-out pad in the city center, Compay is ideal for urbanites who also want to kick it at the beach. Sip traditional mate on either of the two heated outdoor patios, rent bicycles by the day, partake in the book exchange and check out their tours or nightlife recommendations. And when your body can’t take any more (these people party until the sun rises and sets again), they’ll even drive you to the airport.
EquityPoint — Marrakech, Morocco: There’s no hostel that boasts a more accurate reflection of Moroccan culture than EquityPoint. It’s a riad not far from Djemaa el Fnaa Square, the heart of Marrakech. It offers a softy lit inner courtyard, a terrace, a pool, a hammam and a Moroccan chef who prepares traditional meals. You can even take a cooking class of your own and, if Marrakech gets to be too much foot traffic for you, flee on one of EquityPoint’s desert tours.
Kex Hostel — Reykjavik, Iceland: Once the residence of a biscuit factory, Kex is the ultimate gentleman’s space with leather sofas in its library and a meeting room styled as an old school boxing gym. The gastropub offers a free breakfast buffet every morning and the bar serves a selection of beers everything from braised pork cheek to fried salmon and grilled lamb chops. Maybe you want to clean up before dinner at the hostel’s Raxtur barber shop.
The Generator — Amsterdam, The Netherlands: This former zoological university building accommodates up to 564 guests in twin and quadruple rooms, and one luxury apartment for six people with a self-catered kitchen. The former lecture hall is now a bar; the library is now a private events room and the boiler room is now a secret, late-night bar. But, weirdly enough, the coolest part of this hostel might be the hanging clothes units—that’s a rarity in hostels.
PLUS Florence — Florence, Italy: Featuring both an indoor and outdoor pool, a sauna, a panoramic terrace bar overlooking the Duomo, a restaurant and a disco, PLUS is just a 10-minute walk from the city center. Finally get your laundry done, work off all the Italian food in its fitness center or enjoy one of the many parties at PLUS, where you'll get even more Italian food and drinks.
The Independente Hostel — Lisbon, Portugal: This 19th-century palace-turned-hostel is situated where the seaside meets the countryside in old agricultural quarters. It boasts rooftop views of the river Tagus, offers live performances by local musicians and has two extravagant restaurants on site, The Decadente and The Insólito. Just about the only thing that separates this place from hotels is the lack of valet parking.
Sekeping Victoria — Penang, Malaysia: Retreat to this Malaysian oasis, which features a naturally lit open courtyard, its very own eatery called the Canteen Restaurant and modern geometric rooms. Engulfed in nature, the hostel also offers mosquito nets in each room.
Backpackers in Green Point (B.I.G.) — Cape Town, South Africa: B.I.G. is just walking distance from Cape Town’s city center and Camps Bay and Clifton Beach. It provides all newly renovated, modern and comfortable rooms, laundry services, Braai (barbeque) facilities, a library and book-swapping area, a garden and a fully-equipped kitchen with free breakfast. They also offer parking for guests traveling by car and airport transfers for the car-less.
Downtown Beds — Mexico City, Mexico: A former 17th-century palace located in the heart of Mexico City’s colonial core, this industrial-styled hostel is rich in history. It houses a cinema, beer patio and rooftop terrace, an interior courtyard with foosball, complimentary bicycles and a restaurant serving Mexican street snacks.
Caveland Hostel — Santorini, Greece: Picture this: an 18th century winery-turned-complex of cave houses, panoramic terraces and lush gardens of lemon, pomegranate, orange, pear, vanilla and pistachio trees. Caveland Hostel represents traditional Santorinian architecture, dug out of 3,600-year-old volcanic pumice, which is the upper layer of Santorini island.
Bunka Hostel — Tokyo, Japan: In traditional Japanese style, Bunka offers dorms with cozy bunks and lockers to store your stuff. Its open layout makes way for Izakaya Bunka, another space where guests can enjoy local dishes and Japanese Sake before heading into the city center—just a short walk from the hostel.
U Hostels — Madrid, Spain: This five-story 19th-century palace is located conveniently next to the Alonso Martínez metro station. Inside there’s a restaurant, bar, library, cinema and rooftop. If that doesn't satisfy your appetite for accommodations, you can also take cooking lessons or flamenco classes, or explore the capital on a free city tour.
Clink78 — London, England: When you have the chance to sleep in the Clerkenwell Magistrates’ Court where punk rockers The Clash stood trial in 1978, why pass it up? The building has had a major revamp after closing its doors following more than 200 years of handing out convictions, but it still has two original courtrooms (now used as quiet Internet rooms) and seven prison cells (now bedrooms), as well as a late-license basement bar.