Whenever I meet travelers en route to South or Central America, I’m always quick to pass on my list of recommended hostels in Latin America, not least because I know what it’s like to turn up at a place and wonder if Hell might have any vacancies as a better alternative.
A hostel, the facilities, the kind of travellers it attracts, the location and the cost can all have a huge impact on your travel experience. Equally, repeatedly trawling my tiny brain for the name of that place in that town, that is just on the tip of my tongue is making my brain tired.
So, as I’ve been planning to do for some time, here’s my list of recommended hostels in Latin America (in order of my route, not preference):
Paraphrasing the Lonely Planet: If you haven´t heard about Loki, you probably shouldn’t be there. Party hostel extraordinaire, there was an attempt to set the world record for most number of shots drunk at the same time while I was there (I think everyone was too drunk to know whether we succeeded) and there is an Oxygen bar for when you need pepping up. Cheap food, cheap booze, put your drinking boots on or sleep elsewhere.
Big, airy rooms, a cool lounge/bar area with pool table, great rooftop terrace with weekly BBQ and opposite Bellas Artes metro make this one of the best hostels in Santiago. Ans that’s not to mention the friendly staff.
With several floors, this hostel is by no means small and can feel a bit intimidating at first with over 100 people milling about. However, the hostel is spacious with a huge communal area, cinema room, plenty of computers and decent kitchen. There is also a huge bar and restaurant filling the basement. The location is dead central meaning you can walk to most of the sights and being a HI Hostel, there are loads of free activities and a good tour desk.
A choice of dorm, tent or hammock, this hostel is super cheap (by Costa Rican standards, and assuming you take a hammock) and has regular and legendary beach bonfires. If you take the tent, it’s the rare chance for a bit of privacy without having to pay for a private room.
The name says it all. Head south on the Nicoya Peninsula and you will hit a small spit of land that is Santa Teresa. Cheaper than Montezum, this tiny beach town has everything a backpacker needs. Tranquilo is opposite the beach via a short path and near cafes and surf shops. Inside the hostel there are hammocks a short crawling from the large, well equipped kitchen. Free pancake batter and coffee make this place complete. And also make this one of my most recommended hostels in Latin America.
Nicaragua, Granada: Bearded Monkey (websiteless)
There’s a hostel cat that looks and behaves like Garfield and even had his own hammock…that people had to lift him into, he was so fat, and that was enough for me. The communal area was perfect for chilling out in the non-cat occupied hammocks. There is also a casual bar and restaurant while the hostel is a short shot from the main Plaza.
I’ve included this place as the views are amazing, the communal dinner fun, local walks beautiful and the chance to stay in a treehouse, pretty special. It felt a bit too close to a commune for my liking, so perhaps best if you’re with a friend or, better still, you’re other half. There is a choice of private tree houses or dorm rooms.
Guatemala, Antigua: Black Cat
The steps to the top floor were a bit precarious, especially with a backpack on, but you can’t beat the views of the permanently smoking volcano when you reach the top. There’s a room to chill out and a bar overlooking the street. The free breakfast can count for two meals with a choice off the menu that is pretty extensive and worth the nightly rate alone. Right in the centre, this hostel is perfectly placed.
The problem with this hostel is that it makes you not want to go out, and with hammocks, a cool jungle-esque interior bar, restaurant (with good prices) and a seemingly endless happy hour, there isn’t really much need…except to jump into the lake a few times…and see Tikal…but after that, this hostel is a cool place to hang out.
Ok, there was a pretty big bed bug problem last time I stayed at Pocna (May 2012: the staff were working tirelessly to get rid of them), and yet it has still made it onto my list of recommended hostels in Latin America. Why? Hammocks on the beach, live music, free language, juggling and yoga classes are just part of the reason this hostel still has people turning up in droves. In short, the rooms aren’t great, but everything else more than makes up for it. It’s the only time I’ve heard travellers say, ‘I’ve got bedbugs…I’ll just stay two more nights’. Note: in my opinion the hostel food isn’t worth the money.
Bright, funky and fun is the best description of Tribu. A turreted building with hammocks, a good rooftop space for star gazing, a cinema room, good kitchen and bar make this hostel great, but what sets it apart is the nightly activities from giant Jenga to a blind dinner, there is always something going on.
Love or loathe downtown Cancun, this hostel is a winner. Another HI incarnation with plenty of free things going on (tequila and guacamole night to mention only one). There is a restaurant and bar attached downstairs with reasonable prices but also a kitchen and rooftop bar. The highlight is the Jacuzzi, so rarely found in hostels. Just beware, this may be one of my recommended hostels in Latin America, but I would recommend caution with the jacuzzi – wooden steps and water don’t mix as my thigh long bruise will attest. However, the hostel does have the Holy Trinity of A/C, electrical power and wi-fi in the rooms if you need a relaxed night-in streaming movies.
In the King of party towns it is nice to find a place to escape and 3b offers exactly that. Super friendly staff, huge beds, air conditioning and luxury fixtures and fittings, you’ll probably linger longer than you intended at this hostel (I know I did. Twice). A couple of blocks from the beach, this is by far one of the cleanest places I’ve stayed and another of my favorite hostels in Latin America.
Fine, not Latin America, but pretty close and a hostel I visited during my Latin America trip. This hostel is another of my all time favourites with three free meals a day (true story), discounted access to nightclubs and a block from South Beach. What more could you ask for? (PS: this is the hostel shown in the main image.)
Let me know if you have any to add or have had a bad (or good) experience at any of the above.
Happy hostel hunting.
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Jo Fitzsimons is a freelance travel writer who has visited over 60 countries. www.indianajo.com is the place where she shares destination details, travel itineraries, planning and booking tips and trip tales. Her aim: to help you plan your travel adventure on your terms and to your budget.
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