Looking for comfortable, affordable and fun places to stay whilst on your Aussie travels? Not a problem! I have just moved on from travelling Australia for 4 months and can confidently say I’ve experienced a bit of everything when it comes to hostels – the good, the bad, the ugly…
To help you avoid the bad and ugly and get you staying somewhere cheap and cheerful (but most importantly comfortable!) here is a list of the best hostels I stayed in whilst travelling the East Coast.
When it comes to booking hostels the 5 main things I look for include:
1). Location – A good location makes sightseeing and exploring an area so much easier and cheaper. If I can get round all the main sites on foot, even better!
2). Price – Spending less money on accommodation means more money which can be spent on seeing, doing and travelling more! With that in mind, I still want a comfortable bed at the end of the day and somewhere I can relax, so I aim to pay what is worth paying for. (E.g. if I’m deciding between two places and one includes air-con for £2 more, I’ll go with that).
3). Vibe – When reading reviews people often say if a place has a “chilled” or “party” vibe and this will have an impact on my decision too. It all depends on how I feel at the time, but I often try to aim for a middle ground, somewhere social but not too crazy.
4). Air-con – A big one for me! I really struggle to sleep anywhere if it’s too hot and stuffy (which it will be during Australian summer), so I look for hostels which specify air-con in dorms. A good night’s sleep does a world of good when you’ve been travelling all day or partying all night.
5). WIFI – Nothing is more infuriating that sh*tty wifi. Unfortunately many hostels in Australia suffer from this which can make it hard to book stuff and phone home. Saying that, in my experience most places have a public library or cafes which have good wifi you can use if you’re desperate.
Now you know my preferences here’s my list of the best hostels in Australia:
(*prices may vary depending on when you book)
Base St. Kilda – Melbourne
Base is a chain hostel which you’ll see crop up a few times along the east coast, some are worth it, and some aren’t. The one in St Kilda is great for meeting new people and kickstarting your Oz adventure! With helpful staff, travel desk and daily activities it’s a good place to find your feet and other fellow backpackers. Only 3 miles outside the city centre, it’s got a nice beachside vibe, with plenty of bars and cafes.
• £20 a night, including free breakfast
Flinders Backpackers – Melbourne
Another Melbourne find! If you are wanting something a bit more central, I stayed at Flinders for a few nights and can’t say I have any complaints. It’s a huge hostel with a basement bar that can get pretty loud, but other than that it’s great. Free breakfast pancakes every morning, friendly staff, super central location, a variety of dorm rooms to choose from and clean bathrooms.
• £17 a night, with free breakfast and cinema room
Wake up! – Sydney
Right by central station Wake Up! hostel is easy to get to from the airport and has stylish common room areas that make it easy to relax and plan the rest of your Australia trip. With its size, Wake Up! felt more like a hotel to me than a hostel making it quite hard to meet people. But the downstairs bar resurrected that with planned events every night. Although a little far from the harbour, Wake Up! still made it onto this list because of its impeccable cleanliness, sadly a rarity for most hostels.
• £20 a night (less when you book direct: https://wakeup.com.au/sydney/)
Aquarius Backpackers Resort – Byron Bay
Probably my favourite hostel along the east coast! A 5-minute walk from the beach, free dinners (!), events every night, discounts at the bar and a free shuttle service to the hostel. Aquarius makes it so easy for everyone in the hostel to socialise with each other thanks to their free dinners which brings everyone downstairs to the bar area for 7:30pm. You immediately get chatting with whoever you’re sat next to before you start joining in on the night’s activity (pub quiz, karaoke, ping pong comp, bbq night etc.). Rooms are comfortable, but basic, and sadly no wifi – this is only accessible downstairs in the common area or you can pay extra to get it in your room.
• £17 a night, including free dinners
Bunk – Brisbane
You get what you pay for at Bunk. Decent location near to the city centre, with a pool, hot tub, late night bar and useful travel desk on hand too. The dorms are basic but comfortable, the only downside is you have to pay for wifi ($2 for 24 hours), not bad, just unusual. The reason it gets a place on this list is for its backpacker friendly price. Having stayed at nomads which was more central but a bit dark and dingy, Bunk is a much more preferable option for when you’re in Brisbane.
• £11 a night
Pippies Beach House – Rainbow Beach
There are only really two main hostels in Rainbow Beach – Pippies and Freedom. I stayed in both and for me Pippies took the biscuit for its more laidback personal charm, good wifi and air con. I had a very uncomfortable, hot and sweaty night’s sleep at Freedom, and it just wasn’t worth it for me. Pippie’s was easy to navigate round with clean, comfortable rooms and a pool to cool down in. I also did my Fraser Island tour with Pippies, so it was a great way to meet the people in my group.
• £14 a night
Base Backpackers – Airlie Beach
More of a resort than a hostel! Combined with nomads, Base in Airlie beach is full of backpackers. Whilst I would usually stay clear of such large chain resorts, I found Base easy to get around, a good location and very sociable. People come for a good time, either ready for their Whitsundays trip or returning to celebrate afterwards with their new friends. I had two great nights here either side of my Whitsundays trip as everyone is so welcoming! The onsite bar, Boaty’s, has an excellent evening vibe which turns lively as the night goes on. Only negatives are the wifi (which is poor) and the kitchen area which lacks enough kitchen utensils for everyone, but if you’re only staying for a night or two, it’s worth it!
• £13 a night
Gilligan’s Backpacker Hotel & Resort – Cairns
Similar to Base/Nomads in Airlie, Gilligan’s is renowned for its party scene! Make sure you’re prepared for what you’re getting yourself into before you commit to booking. I was eager to end my time in Australia on a high, but unfortunately when I arrived in Cairns I suddenly fell ill (probably all the travels and adventures catching up to me) and can’t say Gilligan’s is the place to be if you need rest. Saying that, I quickly switched from a mixed dorm to an all-female, which was a lot quieter. Kitchen facilities are the best I’ve seen for a hostel! The rooms are modest with good air con and ensuite bathrooms. Wifi sadly doesn’t reach the dorms, but is good in the common areas. As a hostel resident you get discount on food and drinks at the bar and free entry to the club. It’s also nice knowing when you’re out partying that your bed is just upstairs if you need it.
• £8 a night, including breakfast (bargain!)
And there you have it, the best hostels in Australia! I know hostel experiences can vary from person to person, but for me it’s all about the amnesties, location, staff and environment. Hopefully this list helps you decide where to stay on your next trip down under!