Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean your accommodation options need be stock-standard. If anything, cheap backpacker haunts can oftentimes prove far more interesting and lively than any swanky five-star resort.
From haunted old castles to former underground mines, we explore 10 especially unusual hostel stays that are guaranteed to become the most memorable part of any trip:
#1: Hostel Celica (Slovenia)
A former military prison, this 19th century building has become a colorful youth hostel dedicated to art, music and philosophy. Over 80 artists from across the globe participated in decorating the hostel’s 20 former jail cells, giving each of the quarters a completely distinctive look.
Regular events at this lively guesthouse now include art and photography exhibitions, musical performances, all-you-can-eat buffet nights and hookah parties. Certainly a far cry from the daily drudgery the former prisoners of this building would have been used to!
Depending on the season, rates start at $25 for a bed in a 12-room dorm and can go up to $42 per person for a two-bed “cell.”
#2: ArkaBarka Floating Hostel (Serbia)
Bobbing atop the Danube River and overlooking the Belgrade cityscape, Serbia’s ArkaBarka Floating Hostel is actually a boat that offers one-of-a-kind vistas from both its rooms and spacious balcony. The services on offer here are equally spectacular, with free Wi-Fi, free pet stay and free breakfast all up for grabs.
As an added bonus, ArkaBarka also provides the best of both worlds in terms of location – set in the heart of the bucolic Park Prijateljstva, it’s a convenient 20 minute walk from the city centre but is also only seconds away from a scenic riverfront boardwalk and bike track.
Rates start at $20 per-person in a mixed five-bed dorm and can go up to $50 for single occupancy in a private room.
#3: Jumbo Stay (Sweden)
A dream come true for aviation fanatics, Sweden’s Jumbo Stay (it’s a Boeing 747 to be exact) has been converted into a stylish abode complete with 27 rooms, a bar and café and shower facilities.
Anchored at the Stockholm Arlanda Airport, the most desired room in the joint is the cockpit suite which boasts panoramic views of all the surrounding airport activity. And even if you don’t manage to snag a bed here, you’re still welcome to pop by for a drink and to check out all the various airplane gadgetry up close.
Rates start at $67 per person in a four-bed dorm and go up to $494 for accommodation in the cockpit suite (includes breakfast, towels, bathrobe, housekeeping, TV, wireless Internet and private toilet and shower).
#4: Kadir’s Treehouses (Turkey)
Tucked away in an ancient Mediterranean valley on Turkey’s west coast, the funky, rustic treehouses at Kadir’s Treehouses commune have long been a favourite amongst travelers checking out the nearby Lycian ruins and picturesque coast. Nestled high among the pine trees, the nightly rate of these lofty dwellings includes breakfast and dinner as well as access to laundry facilities, ping pong tables and a tour desk. And with three bars on site, there’s certainly never any shortage of merriment to be had.
Depending on the season, rates start at $13 for accommodation in a non-air conditioned room with six people and can go up to $36 for an air-conditioned bungalow that fits two to three people.
#5: Radeka Down Under (Australia)
Radeka Down Under underground hostel and motel gives guests a true taste of life in South Australia’s Coober Pedy township. Because the Outback community’s summer temperatures can soar up to 120 Fahrenheit, many residents prefer to dwell in subterranean homes where it’s cooler.
A former opal mine in the 1960s, Radeka provides all the comforts of home with an underground bar, TV room, communal kitchen and gift shop. Just be sure to head outside for some fresh air and daylight every once in a while!
Rates start at $32 for dormitory accommodation and go up to $150 for a private underground two-bedroom motel room.
#6: Hans Brinker Budget Hotel (Netherlands)
Widely self-promoted as “the worst hotel in the world,” Amsterdam’s Hans Brinker Hotel has quite the unusual PR strategy.
Advertising such features as “a basement bar with limited light and no fresh air” and “an open canteen serving a wide range of dishes based on running eggs,” the hostel has become an international attraction of sorts, drawing scores of backpackers curious to see just how bad things here really are.
Rates start at $33 for dormitory accommodation and go up to $55 for a twin private en suite.
#7: Rivoli Cinema Hostel (Portugal)
Located in the seaside city of Porto, the warm and welcoming Rivoli Cinema Hostel is the ideal place for film aficionados. With 13 movie-themed guest rooms ranging from Pulp Fiction to Ice Age, the gamut of flicks featured here are sure to suit just about any taste.
Plus, there’s an extensive DVD library and an outdoor rooftop patio complete with a BBQ and nightly entertainment.
Depending on the season, rates start at $22 for mixed dormitory accommodation and go up to $52 for a single private room.
#8: Sydney Railway Square YHA (Australia)
Adjoining Sydney’s bustling Central Station, this YHA property is unique in that it offers accommodation in heritage railway carriages along a now defunct station platform. For those unable to get a bed in one of these cosy passenger cars, there are also rooms available to book in the historic 1904 main building.
And we really love the fact that this hostel has an outdoor spa pool in which to soak up the city’s (generally) sunny weather!
Rates start at $29 for a stay in an eight-bed dormitory and go up to $88 for a private double or twin room.
#9: The Beary Hostels (Singapore)
A trio of backpacker havens dotted around Singapore’s Chinatown district, the Beary Nice, Beary Best and Beary Good Hostels are pure kitschy fun.
Brimming with stuffed teddy bears around every corner, these popular lodgings have attracted a steady fan base since the first property opened in 2010. The resident teddy bears are of all shapes and sizes and anyone with “a homeless bear to spare” is encouraged to bring it over for adoption.
Rates start at $22 for accommodation in a 10-bed mixed dorm.
#10: St Briavels Castle Hostel (United Kingdom)
History buffs looking to relive the days of knights and cobblestone courtyards will have a ball at this 800-year-old moated Norman castle. Built in 1205 as a hunting lodge for the king, the Gloucestershire property evokes the days of yore with its brick turrets and manicured lawns — there are even regular medieval banquets to help get you into the spirit of things!
And talking about spirits, the castle is said to be one of England’s most haunted with ghost encounters practically guaranteed ”¦
Rates start at $35 for dormitory accommodation and go up to $105 for private rooms.