Cheap and cheerful: 6 cool hostels that are more than just a budget stay

Once home to bunk beds and shared bathrooms, today’s hostels are much more than a budget place to crash. Fancy a night in a converted jail or a spot of morning yoga? Drop your backpack here.

 A group of people lounging on beanbags by a pool.
  • Sarah Reid
  • January 2020

No longer is bagging the cheapest bed in town considered a hostel “win”. For today’s travellers, hostel stays are all about the experience. From instagrammable design to experiential offerings, flexi-working facilities for digital nomads to clever eco-friendly initiatives, next-gen hostels are stepping up. Here are six of the coolest ones you need to check out (err… check in to).

Puri Garden, Bali

For a uniquely Balinese experience, it’s difficult to beat this recently renovated Ubud hostel. From your plush dorm bed, head straight to the tropical garden for free yoga before breakfast and a lazy afternoon swinging in a hammock by the pool. Don’t miss the weekly traditional dance shows.

Lub d, Siem Reap

Asian hostel chain Lub d’s Cambodian outpost comes complete with co-working space, chill-out area, pool with swim-up bar, laundry room and a café-restaurant. Top bunks are easily accessed by stairs rather than wobbly ladders and Lub d is just a short walk from Pub Street.

A group of friends hanging around by a pool.
You’ll love the chilled vibe and bar at Siem Reap’s Lub D hostel.

The Pod@Beach Road, Singapore

On the fringe of Singapore’s CBD, this slick capsule hostel will ease you into communal living with 300 thread-count sheets and free breakfast and laundry. There are also couples pods, private singles and a dedicated ladies floor.

The Yard, Bangkok

Built from recycled shipping containers and insulated with recycled paper, this eco-conscious hostel in the buzzy Ari neighbourhood has three restaurants and offers luggage storage for up to two months. Their admirable sustainability initiatives include free bikes, reusable water bottle loans and supporting a community forest project.

Two friends standing outside a hostel.
This environmentally friendly hostel is a must-visit while in Bangkok.

Fremantle Prison YHA, Western Australia

This unusual accommodation near Perth lets you sleep in a converted cell in a former convict prison. You can also combine your stay with a tour of the heritage-listed building – which operated as a jail up until 1991 – and a ferry ride to nearby Rottnest Island to snag a #quokkaselfie.

Train Hostel Hokutosei, Tokyo

Inspired by the now-defunct Hokutosei sleeper train which used to shuttle travellers between Tokyo and Sapporo, this quirky hostel emulates real train accommodation with fittings from the locomotive spread throughout the hostel. Appropriately it is attached to a train station (Bakurochō) for easy access to Tokyo.