You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars a night to get eye-popping hotel pictures for your Instagram. Just ask the folks at Hostelworld, the hostel-booking platform that just released its annual list of the most Instagrammable hostels around the world. It’s chock-full of spots with stuff like rooftop swimming pools, oversized hammocks with mountain views, and bamboo bungalows on the beach. Though getting to some of these places might not be cheap, they’re all alarmingly affordable when you get there. And they’ll all change any perception you had of what hostels really look like.
1. 248 Street Hostel — Chiang Mai, Thailand
Once upon a time, finding a bedroom sink made from an old tire would be the sort of low-rent travel experience you used as a humorous benchmark. Not in repurposing-happy 2019, when it makes your hostel an Instagram star! Just ask the folks behind this hostel five minutes from Old Town Chiang Mai, that in addition to sinks made out of old tires, boasts an old motorcycle in the lobby and the most stunning hostel rooftop bar in the world. The soft purple light matches the glittering lights of the city beyond, as does the glowing swimming pool adjacent to the bar. During the day, you can enjoy drinks with a clear mountain view too.
2. Selina La Fortuna — La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Hostel glamping? Sure, why not. This Selina property in a town named after its luck in NOT being destroyed by a volcanic eruption offers small, rentable private tents that look like miniature versions of the kinds of things you see on glamping safaris. They make for a rugged jumping off point to Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal and Reserva Ecológica Catarata Río Fortuna and their abundance of hiking, canopies, and other adventures. Back home, guests can lounge around a colorful pool, enjoy the bar, or take a yoga class. It also has traditional dorm options, for those who might not be so tent-inclined.
3. USA Hostels Ocean Beach — San Diego, California
Hostelworld thought so much of this hostel in San Diego that it made it one of the 20 official “party hostels” for the company’s 20th anniversary. It’s also the lone American entrant on the list, a colorful beachside dorm perfect for surfers or beach bums who don’t want to break the bank. From the hostel, you can catch a free shuttle to all of the big San Diego attractions. Or you can just rent a surfboard and spend the day trying to ride the Pacific Ocean. Not into surfing? There’s beach chairs so you can just lay back and watch.
4. Casa Elemento — Minca, Colombia
Don’t make the mistake of thinking this hostel deep in the Colombian jungle is an Instagram one trick pony. Granted, the massive hammock — which the hostel says is the world’s largest — boasts epic views out over the mountains and seems tailor-made for social media. But once you’re done getting your requisite hand-heart picture on the hammock, the hiking trails nearby offer even more opportunity for spectacular tropical photography. There’s more here than just nature and views, though; you’ll also find a Friday night barbecue with freshly baked breads and smoky grilled meats, as well as beds made from jungle pine and a new “Relax” dorm with mattresses thicker than a lot of luxury hotels.
5. Gili Meno Eco Hostel — Gili Meno, Indonesia
It’s like all of the breezy, common minimalism of living on a deserted tropical island, without the terrifying realization you have to build a shelter with only your belt buckle and an old Snapple bottle. This Gili Meno hostel has already done all of the work for you, so just show up and set up shop in one of these bamboo beach huts with soft tropical breezes. Another leg up this hostel has on desert-island-stranding: the Shanti-Shanti beach bar where you can enjoy a fruity cocktail by the ocean and a weekly pizza night with homemade, wood-fired pizzas.
6. Calle 11 Hostel — Santa Marta, Colombia
The closest you’re ever getting to living like Pablo Escobar for $8 a night is at this old villa in the historic beach town of Santa Marta. This sweeping villa looks like it stepped right off the set of Narcos, which makes sense as legend has it this was a one-time cartel palace. Now, it’s a Mediterranean-style gem, only two minutes from the beach and close to attractions such as Tayrona Park, the Lost City, Minca, Palomino, and La Guajira. It also affords you the opportunity to lounge by the pool like a cartel hanger-on, enjoying a massage and a glass of wine for a fraction of what it would cost at a hotel.
7. El Rio Hostel — Santa Marta, Colombia
“Influencers” take note: Santa Marta is the Instagrammable hostel capital of the world. Somehow this town of half a million people has more hostels on this list than the ENTIRE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. It makes sense, though, when you’ve got spots like this where you can literally rent a hammock for the night, in an 18-“bed” dorm that comes complete with a locker and mosquito net. If you’d like something a little more traditional, the private rooms are jungle cabanas that feel like honeymoon suites at a deep, deep discount. El Rio is about half an hour from Santa Marta’s legendary beaches too, and can set up surf lessons if you feel so inclined.
8. Travellers Oasis — Cairns, Australia
Tropical North Queensland is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, and if you’ve blown your vacation budget on diving day after day, this is the ideal place to sleep. It has a relaxing pool area surrounded by tropical murals, and is only a short trip to the Daintree Rainforest where you can immerse yourself in lush South Pacific foliage. The Oasis is also a short walk to the city’s esplanade and all of its nightlife offerings. Plus, it has a barbecue area if you want to grill out with some of the locals.
9. Selina Nosara — Nosara, Costa Rica
To all outside observers, this thatched-roof hostel looks like a luxury jungle oasis filled with lavish pools and light-wood decks. And while it does have all of the photogenic accoutrements of a $700-a-night property, it’s still a hostel with private rooms for under $100. It might not be the cheapest hostel, but it is right along Playa Guiones in the heart of downtown, and features a health-food restaurant right on site. Selina also has its own private surf club too, so you can enjoy the waves without throngs of other visitors.
10. Combo Venezia — Venice, Italy
When you’re in Venice, it doesn’t get much more immersive than staying in a converted 12th-century convent. Live among centuries-old bricks while you gaze out porticos to a stately courtyard, or make new friends under the arches of its ancient-stone bar. The rooms themselves are a stark contrast, featuring sleek, modern, Italian decors with light wood, dark leather furniture, and state-of-the-art appliances. There’s also a waterside cafe for all of your food-posting needs, completing an entire hostel full of world-class photo-ops.