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Now that I’m back in a non-shared sleeping space and don’t have to rent a towel, I can reflect on the many types of accommodation I’ve used. I’ve been welcomed into homes, which were always my favorite, and stayed in some very cute budget hotels and AirBnB rooms.

Our hotel room in Litochoro--NOT a hostel. They upgraded our room to a triple with a balcony...

Our hotel room in Litochoro–NOT a hostel. They upgraded our room to a triple with a balcony…

But much of my travel and time was spent in hostels. Here are my five favorite hostels I stayed in during my nearly eight-month stint traveling Europe.

Click on the name of the hostel in the header to get to their site, which has all their details and current pricing!

Art Hole Hostel: Prague, Czech Republic

Know when you watch a trailer, and the movie is totally NOT what you were expecting? Well, at Art Hole Hostel I totally got what I wanted–and expected–from their description. On their description for Hostelworld and Hostelbookers, they clearly say they are not a party hostel and are great for solo travellers.

This was absolutely true on both counts. With a great location nearby to bars, guests could go out and dance the night away or party to their heart’s content, but quiet hours started at midnight and were pretty well enforced, meaning those of us who wanted to stay in (read: I am an old grandma and like my beauty sleep) or go to bed before 3 a.m. could do so.

Plus, they don’t book big groups, and it was really easy to chat with other travelers there. AND breakfast is included–WITH protein! Cute little hard boiled eggs in egg cups right in the kitchen, ready for your enjoyment.

I also loved the look of the place; it’s in a big old building with wood floors and high ceilings, and the lockers were big enough for me to fit my entire bag into it.

The cons? The number of bathrooms is a little low compared to the number of folks staying there, and for those of you who are unwieldy packers, you’ll have to lug your stuff up a few flights of stairs, as there is no elevator.

Vila Veselova: Ljubljana, Slovenia

I arrived in Ljubljana and it was the peak of the off-season. Considering the fact that Slovenia doesn’t have throngs of backpackers meandering through it to begin with, that left me in a pretty empty hostel. One of the things I loved about Vila Veselova, though, was that–despite its few guests–all of them happened to be really chill and the place had a really comfy vibe.

Information on all the awesome things to do in Slovenia was all over the walls, as it should be in any good hostel. The lockers in the dorms were slide-aways and huge, so there was a lot of space to lock up ALL your stuff, assuming you don’t travel with a super enormous suitcase. Breakfast is included and if you let the staff know beforehand that your train/flight/sled run is earlier than when breakfast is, they’ll set it out for you so you can still eat! I like to get my money’s worth, and at Vila Veselova, I did.

Ljubljana was wonderful. See how picturesque it is in the snow? Don't you just want to go there and stay at Vila Veselova. You know you do.

Ljubljana was wonderful. See how picturesque it is in the snow? Don’t you just want to go there and stay at Vila Veselova. You know you do.

The other thing I loved about this place was how excited its owners and staff were about sharing the wonders of their country with their guests. They gave me a million recommendations for things to do, places to eat and all that good stuff, and their enthusiasm was contagious!

The cons? The location is not smack-dab in the middle of town and apparently some of the rooms are right on a busy road. I was in a room off the street, so the noise didn’t bother me, and I liked being close to the embassies–lots of security! It just takes 10 minutes to walk to the older part of town.

Athens Backpackers: Athens, Greece

Athens Backpackers is run by Aussies, and those Aussies have a good handle on at least two things: having a good time, and traveling. At Athens Backpackers, those worlds collide. What I liked about Athens Backpackers is that everything you need is really in one place. They’ve got a restaurant, a laundrette, ubiquitous wifi, a sports bar, which is separate from the roof bar, and they organize excursions to boot.

Why I loved traveling in Greece (and why you should try it sometime)

This was the *blurry* view from the hostel bar to the Acropolis.

When I was staying there, I had a good time meeting other travelers and having a drink at the bar, watching the sun set over the Acropolis.

The cons? It’s definitely a young/rowdy crowd a lot of the time, so be prepared for those loud, late-night arrivals…

Sant Jordi Mambo Tango Youth Hostel: Barcelona, Spain

This was the very first hostel I ever stayed in, back in 2007 at the beginning of my study abroad. I don’t know if it was the cozy atmosphere, the attentiveness of the owners (they made sure we locked our passports in the lockers–Barcelona is a HUGE pickpocketing/bag snatching city–and gave us business cards to give to authorities in the unlikely event we were asked for papers and the location of our passports), or just the fact that it was the first real hostel experience I had but I’ve always remembered Mambo Tango.

I would absolutely stay there again when I go back to Barcelona, whenever that may be.

The cons? Breakfast isn’t included, and I remember the lockers being a bit small; valuables will fit but that’s about it.

Castle Rock: Edinburgh, Scotland

This place is just plain cool. Only steps away from the Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile, you can’t ask for a better location for your immersion into Scotland’s capital. Each room is themed, lockers are assigned to your bunk, there’s a movie lounge (!) and towel hire is a negligible 20p, definitely the cheapest I’ve seen.

Edinburgh at night.

Edinburgh at night.

The cons? Breakfast is not included, and the dorms do get quite big, although I was impressed with how respectful people were when we were there, even during the crazy Fringe Festival in August.

And don’t forget, when you do eventually make your choice to stay in a hostel, keep in mind these 3 things…