Whether it’s a cheeky little llama to remind you of Machu Picchu, or something you don’t remember choosing to remind you of all the buckets you drank in Thailand, travel tattoos are a special badge of honour for backpackers, and a wonderful way to remember the best days of your life via a permanent reminder inked on your skin (sorry Mum!) Savvy hostel-owning folk have caught on to this trend and tattoo hostels are popping up across the globe, offering both on-site tattoo parlours and visiting artists on certain days of the week. Here’s a rundown of nine of the best tattoo hostels around the world for you to get inked in.
1. The Yellow – Rome, Italy
Tattoo hostels don’t come much cooler than this Italian job, which has an established partnership with local tattoo parlour, Mr Belly Tattoo. All you need to do to get inked with your design of choice is put in a request and your selected artist will swing by, tattoo gun in tow. Voted the best hostel in Rome (by you lot!), The Yellow has plenty going for it, in particular its basement bar, which offers a winning combo of cheap drinks and live music by local and international acts to guarantee a party every night of the week. They also have an on-site hair salon, should you fancy a new ‘do’ to complement the tatt.
- Rooftop yoga
- Pasta making classes
- Banging bar with cheap drinks
- Live music
Address: Via Palestro, 51, 00185 Roma RM, Italy
2. White Rabbit – Siem Reap, Cambodia
To be honest, I was sold on White Rabbit the second I heard that it’s ‘Alice in Wonderland-themed’, but its full-time tattoo artist is a big perk too. This artsy, eco-friendly, highly-instagrammable tattoo hostel boasts a swimming pool, lively bar, book exchange, a vegan restaurant, plus all the beer pong you can possibly handle. They host family dinners to help you get acquainted with your fellow backpackers, and pub crawls to nearby (and infamous) Pub Street three times a week. Pop in and get tattooed at any time of day…although maybe not immediately after the pub crawl, yeah?
- Pool parties
- Vegan restaurant
- 24-hour reception
Address: Street 26, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
3. WanderThirst Hostels – Kathmandu, Nepal
This gorgeous hostel in the very heart of Kathmandu has its own in-house tattoo artist in the form of singer and traveller Sumina, who loves working alongside backpackers to design the tattoos they’ve been dreaming of. The artsy vibe is evident throughout the hostel, with beautiful hand-painted murals decorating each dorm room, the rooftop hangout area and the downstairs bar and restaurant. These guys pride themselves on providing travellers with a ‘nest’ for their time in the city, and it’s worked – you really won’t want to leave.
- 24-hour reception
- Co-working space
- Games room
- Hot showers
Address: Kaldhara, Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal
4. Lub D Phuket – Patong, Thailand
Slap bang in the heart of Patong’s absolutely pumping entertainment district is Lub D, which is so swish it could be in Ibiza. With 187 rooms over five floors, making new friends in this hostel is completely unavoidable – as are the pool parties, complete with novelty inflatables, in their outdoor, see-through swimming pool. Catch the sunset from their sun terrace and sip a cocktail whipped up by one of their mixologists, while flipping through the designs on offer at the tattoo hostel’s very own studio.
- Co-working space
- Muay Thai Boxing Ring and training area
- All-day breakfast and snacks
- Free toiletries
Address: 5 5 Sawatdirak Rd, Pa Tong, Kathu District, Phuket 83150, Thailand
5. Wild Rover – Cusco, Peru
Every single Sunday (and for all big events), Wild Rover’s resident tattoo artist, Morning Star, swings by to ink any willing guests. Fun fact: your tattoo of choice will be free of charge if you also get the hostel’s logo tattooed on you. Less fun fact: the Wild Rover logo is a backpack-wearing, beer-drinking leprechaun! It’s your call. This raucous hostel is part of a chain whose reputation for debauchery spans the entire continent. Cusco’s edition is home to the largest Irish bar in South America, so expect a boozy time – their themed-parties are known for being the wildest in town. The bar has a great balcony for enjoying views of the city, and a courtyard perfect for socialising in the sunshine. If you’ve been craving your home comforts, their Irish cuisine will really scratch that itch – I’m talking jacket potatoes, Irish stew, toasted sandwiches, the whole works. The hostel is also centrally located, ideal for exploring all Cusco has to offer.
- Banging parties
- Late night food
- Big screens perfect for watching sport
- Great views of Cusco
Address: Cuesta de Sta. Ana 782, Cusco 08002, Peru
6. Mezcal Hotel Hostel & Bar – Cancun, Mexico
This idyllic spot right in the midst of Cancun’s action is graced by the presence of on-site tattoo artist, Niño Lobo – considered one of the best artists in town. This is the kind of tattoo hostel that dreams are made of – swimming pool, hammocks and plenty of breezy, shady social areas perfect for rubbing shoulders with tanned travellers. The guys at Mezcal also pride themselves on their array of daily activities, from arcade games to Cancun city tours, and group trips to the beach. Another handy perk is that the hostel is just a short stroll from the area’s best bars and restaurants and the central bus station that will whisk you (and your new tattoo) to the next stop on your Mexico itinerary.
- Fully-equipped kitchen
- Cocktail bar
- Hot water
- Private rooms
Address: 12 Mero Mz 2 Lt 19, 3, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
7. Books Hostel – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Ask anyone what the friendliest hostel in Rio de Janeiro is and you’ll hear about Books Hostel time and again – a place that prides itself on ensuring you have a hangover. Books is the kind of hostel you’ll fall in love with and find yourself still working behind the bar of six months later! The hostel is close to the city’s popular cultural and historical districts of Lapa and Santa Teresa, where you’ll find the best lookout points, nightlife, street parties and bohemian bars. It’s also well-placed for plenty of beach action. Also, Books Hostel boasts a visiting tattoo artist that swings by once a week, giving you plenty of time to decide what reminder of Rio is the most important to you. There’s always some fun going down in this spot, whether it’s themed parties, quizzes or competitions – all fuelled by bargain caipirinhas, of course. Plus, Books boasts the largest hostel hat collection in the world – and no self-respecting traveller can possibly miss out on that!
- Rental bikes
- Free hostel breakfast and dinners (including a toasted sandwich machine!)
- Perfect location for beaches and parties
- Work opportunities
Address: R. Francisco Muratóri, 10 – Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 20230-080, Brazil
8. Supertramp Hostel – Cusco, Peru
If you love nothing more than a laid-back, eco-friendly, bohemian hostel, full of plants, vegetarian food and hippies galore, then you’ll be in your absolute element at Supertramp in Cusco. Located (up a steep set of stairs!) in Cusco’s hipster San Blas District, you’ll be bunking down alongside the artiest folk in Peru. The hostel opened its on-site tattoo studio in the summer of 2019. At 424 Tattoo Studio, you can get your tattoo of choice while enjoying calming views of the colourful rooftops of one of South America’s most beautiful cities, and the mountains beyond. Did I mention that their free hostel breakfast includes eggs? This is practically unheard of in South America, so fill those hiking boots!
- Terrace with mountain views
- Fitness Centre
- Rooftop bar
- Free breakfast
Address: Pasaje Sapantiana 424b, Cusco, Peru
9. Bed and Ink Hostel – Koh Tao, Thailand
First things first, this hostel has two pet pigs named Mongkhol and Pumba. They’re part of the furniture, so should you fear this farmyard favourite, maybe give Bed and Ink the swerve. If like more rational folk, the idea of hanging out with a pair of pigs delights you, then head immediately to this hostel when you hit Koh Tao. As their name suggests, they have an on-site tattoo studio with a number of artists available for you to choose from. They also offer a ‘tattoo challenge’ – if you spend more than 1000 baht in their bar on one day, you get a free tattoo of equal value. The hostel is conveniently located close to the ferry pier and just a short stroll from the fun and games of Mae Had Beach and Sairee Beach, where the party’s at. Bed and Ink also hosts loads of social events, including beach clean ups, all-you-can-eat barbeques and parties.
- Two pet pigs
- Movie nights
Address: 7/6 Moo. 2 Mae Haad, Koh Tao, Thailand 84360
Ready to get inked? What would your hostel tatt be? Let us know in the comments!
About the author:
Amy Baker is the author of Miss-Adventures: A Tale of Ignoring Life Advice While Backpacking Around South America, and founder of The Riff Raff, a writers’ community that supports aspiring writers and champions debut authors. You can follow Amy on Twitter here.