At the Pink Palace. Photo: keithusc.

“When you get to Brugge, you HAVE to go to this hostel my brother’s flatmate’s girlfriend stayed at…”

“Geez don’t stay at that hostel when you are in Budapest, the night manager was SO RUDE to me when I stayed there in 1993…”

“There’s this hostel kind of near the old town … close to that big statue … there’s no sign on it … you can’t miss it!”

All helpful advice from your friends aside, it’s not hard to find a bed in Europe. There are more than 100 “hostels” in London alone. Some European hostels are like palaces – some actually ARE palaces – and some look (and smell) like a teenage boy’s bedroom.

So here it is – the definitive list of the top 10 Hostels in Europe – well my ten favorite ones anyway.

10. Foresteria Valdese – Venice, Italy

Boasting 18th century architecture right down to the Bevilacquan frescos in the ceiling, this place is the old guest lodgings of the Waldensian and Methodist Church in Venice. Centrally situated to all of Venice’s beautiful attractions, it has some of the best value accommodation in this very expensive city with dorm beds starting at 24 Euros including breakfast.

9. Cardiff Backpacker’s Hostel – Cardiff, Wales

To say this is a fun kind of place is a massive understatement. It is the only hostel located in central Cardiff and they offer big discounts for guests to attractions like Cardiff Castle and Millennium Stadium. The whole vibe of this place makes you feel welcome and with a great bar, no curfew on weekends, and beds from 25 Euros, it is easy to see why this one makes the list.

8. Flying Pig Hostel – Amsterdam, Netherlands

There are actually three Flying Pig Hostels in Holland but our pick is The Flying Pig Downtown. Situated in the heart of the red light district and right next to Amsterdam Central Station, it is very central and close to the city’s main attractions including the Royal Palace and the Waterlooplein Markets. They have a comprehensive website complete with forums and dorm beds start at 14 Euros.

7. Kabul Hostel - Barcelona, Spain

In a city where there are maybe 100 places to stay in its heaving main street, Las Ramblas, this hostel manages to retain 100% occupancy for almost every night of the year. With no single or double rooms and dorms with up to 20 beds starting at 17 Euros, Kabul is not for the faint hearted (or those wanting a solid night’s sleep) but let’s face it, that’s not what you go to Barcelona for!

6. 3 Ducks Hostel – Paris, France

With my Mum’s words, “If you’ve got nothing nice to say, say nothing at all” ringing in my ears I am going to say nothing about the most tourist-visited city on Earth. However, if you find yourself in the city and want to find a bed that won’t cost the chemise off your back, then the 3 Ducks is the answer. Dorm beds start at just 19 Euros and its location can’t be beaten.

5. Balmer’s Herberge – Interlaken, Switzerland

This place is amazing. Set amongst the magical scenery of Interlaken, Balmer’s is like an inexpensive oasis in really expensive Switzerland. Reeking of Swiss efficiency, cleanliness and order this hostel and tent village deservedly makes my top 5. Make sure you check out their Biergarten with cheap drink deals and great food. Dorms are priced from 18 Euros.

4. Kismet Dao – Brasov, Romania

The first offering from Eastern Europe is also one of the best. The management is part-Romanian, part-American and part-Korean and all of those influences are reflected in this quirky but very friendly place. Dorms start at 11 Euros and that includes breakfast and laundry service but best of all, FREE BEER! They still would have made the list without the free beer. Really they would…

3. St. Christopher’s Inn - London, United Kingdom

With so many hostels (good and rubbish) in London, it was always going to be hard to choose just one but I believe the St. Christopher’s Inn at The Village, London Bridge is the pick of the whole city. Part of a chain that includes hostels all over the UK, France, Belgium and Germany, The Village basically gives you everything you want from a hostel: cleanliness, fun, friendly staff and cheap (for London) beds which start at 28 Euros.

2. The Pink Palace - Corfu, Greece

OK the self-proclaimed “World Famous Backpackers Paradise” might be a bit of a stretch, and there are certainly better (and quieter) places to stay in the Greek Islands but The Pink Palace is something of an institution. Maybe the only hostel in the world that guarantees to turn nobody away, regardless of whether you have a booking or not! The list of activities and free inclusions is endless and dorms start at just 20 Euros.

1. Friendly Fun Frank’s Hostel – Riga, Latvia

If I was ever going to open a hostel somewhere in the world I would want to make it just like Friendly Fun Frank’s. This place has everything: great location, cheap prices, excellent local knowledge, social tours that drag you from one great nightclub to the next every night, and all in a place that is set into the walls of Old Riga’s medieval castle. Maybe it’s the 9 Euro dorm beds or maybe it’s the fact that Frank (an Australian ex-pat) only seems to employ ex-winners of the Miss Latvia beauty pageant but Frank’s is easily the best hostel in one of the best cities of the world.

So there you have it. Hugely subjective and heavily biased towards free beer and beautiful Latvian girls but my top ten just the same. How many of these would make your top 10?

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Check out Nick’s blog on Matador: “How to go from being a traveler to a tourist in 5 easy steps.”

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