10 Cool & Unusual Hostels Around the World

Editor's note: This article comes to us courtesy of Victoria Philpott - a travel writer for HostelBookers, the budget accommodation specialist. She lives and works in London.

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If a bunk bed, locker and four walls in a normal building just don’t cut it for you as enough of a travel experience, check out the top 10 coolest and strangest hostels.

In the world of competitive novelty accommodation childhood caveman, tree house and train driver fantasies can become realities, and if you’re lucky, you might even get to see a ghost.

#1: Jumbo Stay, Stockholm, Sweden


Jumbo Stay Hostel, Stockholm, Sweden

For anyone who isn’t fed up with trying to get some sleep on an aeroplane, book a few nights on this stationary jumbo-jet-cum-youth-hostel, Stockholm. Don’t allow yourself to be influenced by past unsuccessful in-flight snoozing experiences, this is not the usual restrictive chair where any excessive movement gets the whole row tutting and giving you evils, oh no. Jumbo Stay has 25 rooms; each with four metres of head room, flat screen TVs and Wi-Fi. The plane/hostel is within easy walking distance from Stockholm Arlanda airport terminals and you can even watch the arrivals and departures on the on-board big screen.

#2: Anak Ranch of Mongolia, Mongolia


Anak Ranch of Mongolia, Mongolia

The Anak Ranch of Mongolia is definitely one for those after somewhere ”˜strange’. Indulge yourself in the wild wilderness and make your new home in a ger, or yurt. These semi-permanent four-bed tents are traditional Mongolian nomadic homes, designed to be easily dismantled and moved on the back of a camel or yak. Speaking of our four-legged friends, horse riding is included in the price, so slap a saddle on and yee haa your way across the baron landscape in style.

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#3: Traveller’s Cave Pension, Cappadocia, Turkey


Traveller's Cave Pension, Turkey

Live out your caveman fantasies in Traveller’s Cave Pension – the coolest out of Cappadocia hostels. You don’t have any? Well simply enjoy a respite from the sun’s hot, humid heat, underground. This novelty dwelling is surrounded by cool scenery to explore and the hostel exterior has plenty of cool photo ops with the traditional fairy chimneys and rock-carved entrance.

#4: Bayrams Tree Houses, Olympos, Turkey


Bayrams Tree Houses, Turkey

Remember on American TV shows when all the kids had cool tree houses that were better decked out than your family home? Ever want one? Well, this is your opportunity to take your siesta up in the branches above, step right up Bayrams Tree houses. They’ll provide the mattress, pillow and sheet and you and your mates can bed down six feet up. Just a short walk away from the houses you’ll find the National Park of Olympos and Olympos beach beckoning you down your rope ladder.

#5: Zhangzhou Wei Qun Lou Inn, China


Zhangzhou Wei Qun Lou Inn, China

Get on the phone to Mulder and Scully — this curious, circular layout definitely has an air of aliens-up-to-mischief about it. Though on closer inspection, looks can be deceiving, and this unique, strange hostel in mountainous China not only has World Heritage Status, but also lavishly adorned bedrooms and traditionally decorated balconies for you to admire your surroundings.

#6: Boat Hostel Barka Basia, Krakow, Poland


Boat Hostel Barka Basia, Poland

Should we call it a bostel or a hoat? Well, either way, Poland’s Boat Hostel Barka Basia is a hostel, on a boat, on a river bank, and it’s cool and strange — it makes the cut. There are private and shared heated rooms available in the boat cabin for rest. As for relaxation, come up to the top of the hostel, Krakow, to admire the beautiful boulevard on the River Vistula, just ten minutes away from the Old Town.

#7: Carbisdale Castle, Culrain, Scotland


Carbisdale Castle, Scotland

Feeling flush on a budget is easy when a real highland castle moonlights as a youth hostel. The Carbisdale Castle was built for the Dowager Duchess of Sutherland, housing her, her entourage, and many like them ever since. Today the castle has an impressive art, statue and sculpture collection for your perusal. If you’re looking for cool, check out the surroundings for woodland walks and mountain bike trails. If it’s strange you’re after, stay up late with a Ouija board — the castle is haunted. Good luck to you on that one.

#8: Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel, California, USA


Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel, California

Perched on the coastline of the Pacific Ocean, the Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel is the perfect, cool getaway from extreme San Francisco, just 25 miles away. The lighthouse still guides ships across the sea, and the hostel is a certified eco-friendly hostel dedicated to helping maintain the wealth of wildlife in the area. If you’re there in season you could glimpse the annual grey whale migration, or watch as the elephant seals catch some rays. If you’d rather live the wild life than watch it, there’s also plenty of opportunity for kayaking, surfing and biking.

#9: Ottawa Jail Hostel, Ottawa, Canada


Ottawa Jail Hostel, Ottawa

Imagine telling your mates back home about being banged up in a jail in Canada, well you can if you book into this Ottawa Hostel. You won’t get a criminal record, or even a black mark against your name here — just a night spent in a former jail cell, or if you’re lucky, the governor’s quarters. Known locally as ”˜the most haunted building in Ottawa’, the building operated as a prison for over 100 years. Officially, three people were hung there, and their ghosts are said to remain in the grounds. Take a tour on the top floor to walk the steps of the judged and damned on the jail’s death row, and to make up your own mind about the ghost factor.

#10: Santos Express Train Lodge, Santos Beach, South Africa


Santos Express Train Lodge

What is it with hoteliers and transforming transport into accommodation? ‘The Train‘, as it’s known to the locals, has five coaches, each with five compartments that look out onto the neighbouring Santos beach on the Indian Ocean. Located in South Africa’s famous Garden Route, if you’re there in season you can watch the whales and dolphins showing off in the sea from the train’s deck. Out of season, you can still enjoy the cosy bar and traditional seafood just 30m from the sea.

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About The Author

Mike Richard
Founding Editor

Mike Richard has traveled the world extensively since 2008. He's camped in the Jordanian desert with Bedouins, tracked African wild dogs in South Africa, and survived a near-miss great white shark attack in Mexico. He loves the great outdoors, good bourbon, and he (usually) calls Massachusetts home. He also enjoys speaking in the third person.

18 Responses

  1. Mark E Tisdale

    Some awesome places to stay! I just hope I don’t have to climb that ladder with my pack at the one in Turkey! :-)

    Reply
  2. Julie Ann Aguila

    Me and two other friends tried the cave pension in cappadocia. The owner was so accommodating and friendly. You won’t an aircon during the night because the cave has it’s own cooling system. The bathroom would give you a chance to experience turkish bath. I won’t forget that awesome experience. And to top it all the breath-taking landscape of cappadocia region.

    Reply
  3. Matt Splat

    Excellent article, when i win the Euromillions this friday these will be the first port of call!! :-)

    Reply
  4. Debbie Beardsley

    These look great! The airplane is a crack up. I can see my husband, the pilot, in one of those beds! Personally, the cave and treehouse looked like places I would really enjoy trying out.

    Thanks for the information!

    Reply
  5. Sofia - As We Travel

    That’s awesome!

    We were thinking of staying at the airplane hostel but it was a bit out of town, but if you’re catching a flight the next day it’s perfect!

    Reply
  6. ecothreesixty.com

    A great list, each one is a real find!

    Really the fact it’s a worldwide selection.

    Our first choices would probably be a toss up between
    ANAK RANCH OF MONGOLIA and SANTOS EXPRESS TRAIN LODGE.

    Maybe one day we’ll get to both.

    Reply
  7. Vicky

    Thanks for the comments everyone and glad you like the article! There are some pretty cool hostels out there :)

    Reply
  8. Charles Rahm (@DWJustTravel)

    This is a super list of unusual hostels. I particularly liked the idea of staying at the Boat Hostel Barka Basia. Hostels certainly offer some varied accommodation these days as we can see from your list.

    Reply
  9. Tamerlan

    The hostels look amazing. I’ve been to hostels throughout most of my travels and I think that even if I had much money I will continue doing so.

    Reply

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