The Top 11 Hostels in the USA
There has been an explosion in the number of hostels in the USA in the past decade, and of course this is good news for budget travelers. But in another way it can make choosing the best hostel for your trip more challenging. Just because a struggling hotel changes its business model and starts calling itself a hostel doesn’t mean it suddenly becomes a good choice for backpackers. Particularly in the USA with its often-substandard public transportation, location of a hostel is very important. Most American cities have one or two key neighborhoods that are ideal for tourists, and staying outside these areas can ruin your visit.
With this in mind, we at BootsnAll have carefully reviewed the hostel scene in 11 of the most popular cities, to arrive at our recommendation for each one. We considered our own experiences in these places along with reviews from previous guests, location information, and value for money in each city. In many cases we recommend the most popular hostel in a city, so booking early can be wise, but in other cases we are recommending hostels that aren’t as well known that we feel are the best first choice for most travelers. We can’t guarantee you’ll have a perfect stay at these places, but we do feel each of them is distinguished enough to make our list of recommendations.
>> A country as big as the US has plenty more hostels where these came from – and you can read about them in our USA hostels listings.
New York City
Times Square Beds
New York City probably has more hostel beds than the rest of the country put together (at this point), but this is still a very tricky place to find accommodations. Negative reviews are sadly common in most every place because bed prices tend to be high while quality and locations can be disappointing at the same time. Times Square Beds stands out in this difficult market for having comfortable beds, a notoriously friendly staff, and a better than average location. This is really more of an apartment that’s been converted into a hostel, and there are only 12 beds, so reserving a spot can be a challenge. But those who do are also rewarded with a super convenient area that is actually far better than the actual Times Square referred to in the name, which is just a few blocks away. The main bus and train stations are very close, and New York City’s notorious 24-hour subway system is just steps away from this hostel. The fun and up-and-coming Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood is at your fingertips, so finding good and reasonably priced food and drinks is never a problem, and it’s quite easy to get to the cool downtown neighborhoods that have the best nightlife.
>>book a hostel in New York City
HI Los Angeles / Santa Monica
Visiting Los Angeles can be challenging even with a car, and it can be extremely frustrating without one. There are good Los Angeles hostels in urban Hollywood and in mellow and remote Hermosa Beach, but the HI Hostel in Santa Monica comes out on top as the best of both worlds. The location is steps from the beach, but in an area with enough big city conveniences and good transportation connections to make a great visit fairly easy. The facilities in this 260-bed, 4-story complex are everything you need and expect from an HI hostel, and previous guests give high marks for the staff and the cleanliness of the place, but again, the best feature is being located just off the beach in one of the very few neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area where you can entertain yourself for many days in a row without needing your own wheels.
>>book a hostel in Los Angeles
Green Tortoise Backpackers
Just as their other location in Seattle seems to hit all the right notes, the Green Tortoise in San Francisco spoils those new to hostelling to the point of setting up unrealistic expectations at other hostels. In addition to having great facilities and an unusually friendly staff, the Green Tortoise just has something cool about it that is hard to describe. They have a daily free breakfast buffet as well as free dinners three nights a week, and free Wi-Fi and internet terminals, so staying connected or doing last-minute travel research is a breeze. If all that weren’t enough, the Green Tortoise is the best located of all the hostels in San Francisco, being directly in the fun and central North Beach neighborhood. Public transportation options abound in this area, although the majority of the main tourist attractions are within a reasonable walking distance anyway. The North Beach area is also one of the better neighborhoods for restaurants and nightlife, so guests can have plenty of fun staying within a close late-night stagger of their comfortable bed.
>>book a hostel in San Francisco
HI Chicago Hostel
Their own website modestly says they are the â€˜BEST hostel in Chicago’ and we actually agree. Previous guests also give this place unusually high marks on everything from the size of the rooms to the facilities to the location itself. Breakfast is included in the price, and free Wi-Fi and free city tours are among the features that make visitors happy to stay and also to recommend it to others. Chicago is one of the very few American cities that has really good public transportation and that also has most of its better attractions clustered together, so the great location of the HI Chicago puts you within a short walk to all of the above as well as Lake Michigan itself. Most everything Chicago has to offer can be seen easily on foot from this central location, and the airport and most of the farther-out attractions and neighborhoods are still within easy reach from this transportation hub.
>>book a hostel in Chicago
India House Backpackers Hostel
New Orleans is another popular tourist city with only a few hostels, so it’s great that they have at least one excellent one in the bunch. Located in a historic Victorian building in the Mid City district, The India House Backpackers Hostel puts visitors in a fun neighborhood that is also a reasonable walking distance from the French Quarter, Downtown, and the Garden District. The hostel has large common rooms and also their own swimming pool with a nice deck that is often used for parties, which can be especially useful in a city with sweltering summers. The India House offers very cheap local food each morning for breakfast, and also hosts regular barbeques and pool parties, so the place has built a reputation for being very fun and social. They also arrange for tours of the city and the local swamp areas, so even newcomers should have no problem finding a few friends and keeping busy.
>>book a hostel in New Orleans
Green Tortoise Seattle Hostel
The Green Tortoise would stand out even in a city filled with hostels, so the fact that they do everything so well in a city with only a few choices is a bonus. The location is so good it’s scary, with million-dollar views overlooking the famous Pike Place Market from the large breakfast room, where a free and filling buffet is served every morning, and three nights each week they offer a free dinner that gets great reviews. The small Green Tortoise chain seems to attract an excellent staff that really cares about their guests, and the cleanliness level is as high as you could expect at such a bustling place. In addition to being literally across the street from the aforementioned Pike Place Market (with those guys at the fish market who hurl sea creatures back and forth for applause and not much else), the neighborhood is an interesting mix of fancy and funky bars and restaurants. The Space Needle, Experience Music Project, and many other worthwhile attractions are within walking distance as well, and the bus and train stations are withing walking distance too.
>>book a hostel in Seattle
Tropics Hotel and Hostel
There are now a few hostels in the South Beach area, but still the Tropics Hotel and Hostel is the top choice for its combination of good facilities and an unbeatable location. You don’t get a lot of extras inside the hostel so you’ll have to rely on just the welcoming staff and good level of hygiene, but they also have an Olympic size pool of their own just outside, and more fun where that came from. Public transportation in Miami Beach leaves something to be desired, so this location one block from the beach, surrounded by new luxury hotels, and just a few blocks from many of the best nightclubs in the state is a huge plus. Between the inviting pool area and the endless attractions of the South Beach neighborhood, no one can complain about being bored staying in this popular facility.
>>book a hostel in Miami Beach
William Penn House
There are a few pretty good hostels in Washington DC, but the William Penn House stands out for having a great location and nice facilities, although this isn’t the best choice for those looking for a party. They offer a free breakfast and beds that are famously comfortable for a hostel, along with a friendly and helpful staff of actual Quakers. This place is about as quiet as you’d expect for a religious facility, and early each morning guests have the option to take part in a meditation service, but non-believers are welcome as guests and no one will try to convert them. The best feature is probably the central location, as it’s walking distance from the main train station and all the top sights in the Capital area.
HI Boston Downtown Hostel
The HI Boston Downtown is a pretty easy choice as the top hostel in the city since the place generally gets rave reviews from previous guests, and the location is excellent as well. The bed price might not seem too cheap at first, but when you consider it includes free breakfast, Wi-Fi, lockers, evening programs, walking tours, nightclub passes and a few other things, it’s really quite a bargain, especially since the hostel is surrounded by luxury hotels in this convenient downtown neighborhood. The staff is consistently friendly and professional, and the whole place is kept to high standards of cleanliness, so there really isn’t much more you could ask for.
>>book a hostel in Boston
HI Portland – Northwest Hostel
Portland is an unusual city in that there are virtually no tourist attractions anyone’s ever heard of, and yet almost everyone loves it anyway. Visiting Portland is more about soaking in the vibe and traveling among locals, and the HI Portland Northwest is an ideal place to do just that. Situated in a historic building in the heart of the trendiest neighborhood in the downtown area, this hostel is a close walk from dozens of restaurants, bars, and the ubiquitous coffee shops the Pacific Northwest is known for. The fashionable and artsy Pearl District and the amazingly clean and pleasant downtown Portland are also within easy walking distance, although Portland also has excellent public transportation (for the USA) and it’s even free in the city center. The staff at the HI Northwest is friendly and helpful, and the place has a great reputation for cleanliness. It’s not what you’d call a party hostel, but being so close to many great bars that’s probably for the better.
>>book a hostel in Portland
USA Hostels Las Vegas
There are only three official hostels in Las Vegas, and unfortunately, all of them suffer from poor locations. The USA Hostel does feel remote and the area a bit seedy when you arrive, but brave guests are rewarded with a reasonable stroll to Downtown Las Vegas, which is home to plenty of excellent options for drinking, eating, gambling, and fun on a tight budget. Inside this former motel complex you’ll find a swimming pool, lounge, game room, and kitchen, and the breakfast and Wi-Fi are free as well. They organize regular tours to local casinos and clubs, and they offer regular events for guests, including a free Sunday night barbeque by the pool.
>>book a hostel in Las Vegas
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