Top US Hostels: Live The American Dream For Less

Europe’s hostels may be killing it in the hostel talent contest, but make no mistake, the United States now has some KILLER 🔪 hostels. Deciding on where to stay in the US has never been easier: think speakeasy bars, central AF locations, and rooftop pool parties you’ll be telling your grandkids about (the censored version, of course). Hostelworld now has 270 of the best hostels  in America, with demand growing so fast they’re even opening a Generator in LA soon! #madeit

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Freehand Hostel, Miami

But let’s face it, travelling in North America is not exactly like South East Asia. Your budget will need to be bigger for the popular cities like New York and San Francisco, and we suggest booking even more in advance than normal to get a cheaper deal, especially for states that have a smaller selection of hostels such as Colorado. Scroll down to the bottom of the article for more practical info 😉

On the flipside, USA hostels also offer endless freebies (Cuban pastries and locally roasted Panther Coffee for breakfast anyone?!), activities money can’t buy, and views you won’t believe. From the neon lights of Miami to the snow-tipped mountains of Denver, we’re giving you the hostel lowdown on where to stay in the US without the big fat price tag.

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The Bivvi, Breckenridge

Freehand Hostels

Think of Freehand as a magical accommodation centaur – half hostel, half hotel. These ritzy mofos were invented for adventurers who love community vibes but don’t want to compromise style and comfort. Freehand has hostels in Chicago, Miami, and a new one opening soon in the hipster playground of Downtown LA!

Freehand Chicago

Chicago was recently voted one of America’s sexiest cities, so it’s only right that it should get an equally sexy hostel. Freehand Chicago opened last year in the vibrant River North neighbourhood, surrounded by art galleries and indie coffee shops. You’ll be gobsmacked that this is actually a hostel with the dark mahogany furnishings, woven wall hangings, and flat screen TVs. They even have their own gourmet café and mixology bar, “The Broken Shaker”! Fall is the best time to visit for the street festivals and those crunchy crimson leaves 🍁

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  • Customer rating: 9.2
  • Price: Dorms £29/$33/€33

Book now

Freehand Miami

This buzzing Atlantic metropolis is located amongst the warm sand and soothing sunshine of South Florida, so you’ll need somewhere to party all night where the heat is on! Freehand is just 1 block from the beach, and even has a fairy-lit pool for all your exotic animal inflatables to enjoy. If you’re keeping it FRESH, try the hostel’s steam room, sunrise beach yoga and free salsa lessons.

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  • Another cool feature: New restaurant “27”
  • Customer rating: 8.7
  • Price: £26/$33/€33

Book now

USA Hostels

These guys are all about the facilities and fun vibes, with four sweet hostels spread across California and two Hoscar wins last year. Karaoke battles and coastal bike rides are the type of fun things on offer, and each hostel is managed by real travellers. Let’s be honest, if you’re getting FREE all-you-can-eat pancakes for breakfast every morning, you know you are in safe hands.

Ocean Beach, San Diego

Beach and surf lovers, pay attention! This newly relaunched hostel is located just a couple of blocks away from the ocean in sunny San Diego. There’s discounted surf lessons, wet suit rental, and for when you want to let your salty hair down, a beach bonfire party twice a week with *free* food.

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  • Customer rating: 9.5
  • Price: £22/$25/€25

Book now

USA Hostels Hollywood, Los Angeles

Crowned Hostelworld’s Most Popular Los Angeles Hostel for its fourth consecutive year, this star-studded joint is a must for the LA backpacker. It’s located in-between Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset and has an epic garden patio where they hold weekly BBQs for meeting new travel pals. They’re pretty generous with their freebies too with those all-you-can-make pancakes, a beach shuttle, discounted city tours and Disney trips.

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  • Another cool feature: Disco laundry room
  • Customer rating: 8.8
  • Price: £28/$36/€36

Book now

HI Hostels

HI can only be described as the Beyoncé of the USA hostel scene, with over 50 hostels across the country. Go HI or go home basically.

HI Santa Monica

Imagine a hostel that’s two blocks from golden sands and that famous pier (the one that Forest Gump ran), in a neighbourhood with serious community vibes? Aloha, HI Santa Monica! Think exposed brick with splashes of Cali-colour, and an outdoor common room with a fountain! The best part is you can now escape that hideous traffic with the new Metro Expo line that goes straight to Venice Beach and Santa Monica 😉


  • Customer rating: 8.7
  • Price: £28/$36/€36

Book now

HI San Francisco City Centre

This former 1920s boutique hotel is vintage at its nu-bohemian best. HI City Centre is marble-tiled, mahogany-railed, and full of character, but with modern features such as a professional-grade guest kitchen. The location couldn’t be more fitting with the edgy Tenderloin and Arts Districts around the corner, where you’ll find the coolest nightclubs and bars. And you must not leave SF without visiting the gritty Mission District!

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  • Another cool feature: Speakeasy café
  • Customer rating: 8.4
  • Price: £27/$35/€35

Book now

HI Richmond

America’s oldest city is the perfect place for a bit of ye olde culture, and where better to stay than a renovated Otis Elevator building?! The old-world charm of this hostel is mixed with modern facilities and Richmond locals are on hand to guide you through the “River City”. HI Richmond is located near several national parks and the Belle and Mayo Islands for your wilderness fix, yet it’s just a 15 minute walk to downtown. Just don’t let East Cary St’s happy hours have their wicked way with you…

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  • Customer rating: 9.6
  • Price: £21/$27/€27

Book now

HI Boston

A multi-award winner at last year’s Hoscars, HI is the no 1 place to stay in Boston. It’s affordable, has an outrageously central location near Boston Common, Chinatown, and the subway. Plus, meeting people is a piece of cake with social spaces such as the bar (with red pool table), self-catered kitchen and a coffee bar where they serve complimentary breakfast at the coffee bar. P.s just in case you get lost, the shower curtains have a map of the subway 😉

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  • Another cool feature:!
  • Customer rating: 9.2
  • Price: £27.89/$34/€34

Book now

Independent Hostels

The Local, New York

Located in the edgy and diverse LIC neighbourhood of Queens, these guys say “staying at The Local is like staying with your coolest friend who knows NYC like the back of his hand and loves having visitors.” As for décor and atmos, think Andy Warhol’s “The Factory” with a spacious lounge, cocktail bar and café (XL coffees for just $2) and a rooftop terrace that boasts some of the best sunsets in the city. Here’s a behind-the-scenes tour with The Bachelor’s Olivia Caridi and Marek Mossakowski from Hostelworld 👇

  • Customer rating: 8.8
  • Price: £35/$45/€45

Book now

Auberge NOLA, New Orleans

If New Orleans isn’t on your radar, then why the hell not?! It’s not just the home of Mardi Gras, jazz and gumbo shrimp, but also….the Best Hostel in the USA, voted by you guys!! Auberge NOLA is situated centrally between the French Quarter-Downtown and Garden District-Uptown, a short trolley ride away from Bourbon Street, and you can get a bed for just 17 DOLLARS! With that you’ll get a free breakfast, towel, and social evenings thrown by the generous “Krewe” who happen to be travellers themselves. There is no question that you will leave wanting to be adopted by the Auberge family! Read more on New Orleans here.

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  • Another cool feature: Netflix room
  • Customer rating: 9.4
  • Price: £17/$22/€22

Book now

Banana Bungalow, Los Angeles

If you’re a fan of American retro in Hollywood, Banana Bungalow is for you. This spacious motel-turned-hostel oasis is lined with palm trees with a view of that iconic sign from the courtyard. There’s even a tiki bar and garden where they serve free breakfast every day and free tacos every Wednesday. No wonder so many travellers end up working here! Find out how to explore the unusual side of LA here.

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  • Another cool feature: Basketball court
  • Customer rating: 8.7
  • Price: £24/$30/€30

Book now

Hostel Fish, Denver

The historic Airedale building was once a saloon, a brothel, an adult bookstore, peep show, and has been recently transformed into a luxury hostel. The old interior has been jazzed up with neo-urban decor, a lively atmosphere, and friendly staff who are “stoked to host you” – and we believe them! They were once backpackers themselves and know what it takes to create a safe, spotless, upscale hostel with 24 hour support and activities for meeting fellow adventurers. There’s even a bar next door for drinks on site or you can stroll in to LoDo Denver where you’ll find local beer houses and bars aplenty!


  • Another cool feature: Locally designed custom duvet covers
  • Customer rating: 9.0
  • Price: £40/$51/€51

Book now

Beds&Drinks, Miami

Bienvenido a Miami! This is a shiny, colourful brand new art deco building slap bang in the middle of Miami Beach, which would explain the 95% location customer rating. It’s easily the most sociable hostel in South Beach with a whale of an outdoor terrace and two lounge areas. If you’re feeling knackered after a hard day’s adventuring, there’s even a big screen movie room with free screenings – bonus!

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  • Price: £18/$23/€23
  • Customer rating: 8.7

Book now

Firehouse Hostel, Austin

This unique hostel in central downtown is the largest in Austin and a real life firehouse originally built in 1885. We love its olde worlde vibez, especially the speakeasy craft cocktail bar that you can only enter through a hidden bookshelf in the lobby. Meet you under the clock at midnight!

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  • Customer rating: 9.1
  • Price: £15/$19/€19

Book now

The Bivvi, Breckenridge

Keen to get on the slopes but the backpacker budget is bustin‘ your balls?! Well we’re about to make your day, as this boutique cabin hostel in the alpine mountains of Breckenridge, Colorado has beds from $29! Start your day with a FREE breakfast banquet (scrambled eggs, French toast, pancakes, fresh fruit, granola, organic coffee – nuff said) before hitting the Tenmile Mountain Range. Then plop yourself in the hostel’s Jacuzzi overlooking those same snowy mountains you just sled down!


  • Customer rating: 9.6
  • Price: £46/£59/€59

Book now

Now some of your questions answered…

Are hostels safe in the USA?

You can bet your last dime that these hostels have some bad ass security. Say hello to secure lockers, card keys à la hotel style, and if you’re keeping it on the DL at night, nine out of ten hostels now have private rooms (but we still think dorms are the spicier option!)


Freehand Miami

Why are hostels more expensive in the US?

The high cost of transportation compared to other countries means the distances are huge and the flights are expensive. However it depends on seasonality of the city itself, so they are not always more expensive. Hostels offer bucket loads of freebies such as yoga classes, breakfasts, and local knowledge you can’t buy! The most expensive cities to travel is San Francisco, New York and New Orleans, and the cheaper ones are Seattle and Boston.


The Local, New York

Why aren’t there as many hostels in the US?

It’s true that hostels aren’t as widespread as elsewhere, but there are a good selection in the main cities with California having the most with 76 in total. Less visited places like Arkansas and Connecticut have the least, so popularity is a factor for deciding on where to stay in the US. Owners of hostels in the US have revamped and re-styled them into trendy, fun, sociable accommodation, combining a sense of adventure with comfort and safety. Along with traditional dorm rooms many US hostels now come complete with private bedrooms, en-suite bathrooms and some even have pools, saunas and bars.

So there you have it, backpacking in the USA is the new Europe! Here are a few quick links to help you prep for your great adventure…

More Helpful Articles

The annual HOSCARS awards recognise the best hostels in the world, voted for by over 1 million customers worldwide who booked their accommodation online and rated and reviewed the hostels. View our Top Hostels in the US who won awards at the Hoscars.

Top US Hostels

USA Hostels San Diego, San Diego
USA Hostels San Francisco, San Francisco
Apple Hostels of Philadelphia, Philadelphia
USA Hostels Hollywood, Los Angeles
Miami Beach International Travellers Hostel, Miami
Green Tortoise Seattle Hostel, Seattle
Deco Walk Hostel, Miami
H.I. Chicago, Chicago
Pacific Tradewinds Backpacker Hostels, San Francisco
H.I. Los Angeles / Santa Monica, Los Angeles
Freehand Chicago
Freehand Miami
Ocean Beach, San Diego
H.I. San Francisco City Centre
H.I. Richmond
H.I Boston
The Local, New York
Auberge NOLA, New Orleans
Banana Bungalow
Hostel Fish, Denver
Beds&Drinks Miami
Firehouse Hostel, Austin
The Bivvi, Breckenridge

Overall Hoscar Winners

Traveller’s House, Lisbon, Portugal
Rossio Hostel, Lisbon, Portugal
Living Lounge Hostel, Lisbon, Portugal
Academy Hostel,
Carpe Noctem, Budapest, Hungary
The Riverhouse Backpackers, Cardiff, Wales
Lisbon Lounge Hostel, Lisbon, Portugal
Greg & Tom Hostel, Krakow, Poland
The Naughty Squirrel Backpackers Hostel, Riga, Latvia
Lisboa Central Hostel, Lisbon, Portugal

View All Hostelworld Hostels

Special Category Awards were also given to the following US hostels:
Best Large Hostel [Min 500 beds]: H.I. Chicago, Chicago, USA
Most Improved Hostel: The South Beach Hostel, Miami, USA

Let us know in the comments below if you have any tips for travelling around the US! 👇👇👇👇


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