How to Find a 5-Star Hostel

I know, I know, you’re probably thinking a 5-star hostel sounds like a total oxymoron. However, just because you’re on a backpacker’s budget doesn’t mean you have to miss out on that cushy boutique hotel atmosphere.

As a solo traveler, I’m a huge advocate for hostels, despite not being a fan of bunk beds and shared bathrooms.If you’re nervous about staying in a hostel for the first time or are tired of grungy hostels, this guide by Anna and Matt of Hostel Geekss will help point you in the right direction. Not only do they show off  some amazing properties around the world, but their site is an awesome resource for those looking to travel the world without blowing their budget.


Cafe Cometa – One of Anna & Matt’s favorite spots in Barcelona

I’ve been a huge fan of Hostel Geeks since I discovered their Instagram gallery showcasing the best flashpacker accommodation. If you’re like me, you probably waste hours scrolling through hostel reviews before deciding where to book. Hostel Geek’s comprehensive reviews and hand-curated selection of the world’s best hostels makes this process so much easier and even inspired me to add a few more destinations to my ever-growing bucket list!

By now, you might be wondering what exactly makes a hostel 5-star worthy or if a “boutique hostel” even exists? So, without further ado, Anna and Matt will take you through their ranking process and share their awesome hostel finds with you!

The 5 Star Hostel Criteria

There are certain standards every hostel has to meet (five exactly) to be a 5-Star Hostel. If a hostel skips one of the five criteria by lacking great design, for example, it won’t receive our seal of approval. We consider the following criteria when evaluating hostels:

Eco-friendly and Sustainable

Every 5-Star Hostel is locally managed, and actively supports the local economy. We find this aspect of responsible travel to be crucial, especially in less-developed areas where fostering sustainable development is key.


Spot Cosy Hostel’s Onsite Garden

Additionally, all 5-Star Hostels are eco-friendly. This can include a various practices such as growing their own vegetables, using solar power, supporting local charities, and much more. This tells you a lot a hostel’s character and gives you a better idea of the people behind it.

Superb Hostel Design

A well-designed hostel does not require a fat wallet! In fact, a 5-Star hostel should reflect the local design and art scene. For example, take a look at Hello I’m Local Hostel. It is quite possibly the most locally-minded boutique hostel in the world. Every item you see around the hostel is 100% Dutch.

Hello I'm Local VOC Room

At Spot Cosy Hostel in Cluj, you will find a 100% handmade hostel! The beds, the paintings, the chairs – everything- is hand crafted. This is a unique reflection life in Cluj, Romania.


We love uniqueness, and every 5 Star Hostel is just that. The unique factor can range from a breath-taking terrace, a green garden, cool events offered…you get the idea!


Hostels are supposed to be social! While some 5 Star Hostels host great events, other hostels provide such a natural social environment,  where interaction just naturally occurs! We look closely at this to make sure our fellow travelers can enjoy a social vibe, which can make or break one’s stay.

Great Staff

Even the best-looking hostel in the world needs a great team!  We have stayed at an endless number of hostels and realized that despite this being one of our easiest criteria to fulfill, welcoming staff members are often missing from an otherwise great place.

On to the 5-Star Hostels…

Sounds all good so far, right?! Next, we’ll share some of our favorite 5-Star Hostels.

Palmers Lodge Hostels in London

palmers-lodge-swiss-cottage (1)

London is not especially an easy destination for hostels since there are so many choices. We are big fans of Palmers Lodge Hillspring and Palmers Lodge Swiss Cottage, which are our only 5-Star Hostels in London.

From great design to a superb social environment, both hostels tick all the boxes. Additionally, the two teams demonstrate outstanding customer service.

Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse in Hobart, Tasmania


At Hostel Geeks, we are not big fans of the famous slogan “home away from home” – hostels tend use this phrase so often that it loses its meaning. The Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse is an exception. Why? It is actually a home!

The owners, Antoni and Rose, actually live in the hostel with their daughter Eve. If you’re an animal lover, you’ll be happy to know that Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse is also home to two adorable miniature bulldogs and a fluffy tortoiseshell cat.

They opened their doors back in 2014. Since then they’ve received so many great reviews, and an endless number of awards – including a 5-Star Hostel ranking!

Swanky Mint Hostel in Zagreb


Have a look at this bar! Yes, that is indeed their own in-house hostel bar. It i open to guests and locals alike. Many locals like to frequent the bar, which really tells you something about the quality of the Swanky Mint Bar.

We are also big fans of the creative and quirky design of the hostel. The building is a former dry cleaning factory. To keep the style and history they decided to include old machines into the hostel decor. When was the last time you checked in standing in front of a huge rolling machine?! No wonder Swanky Mint Hostel is the only 5-Star Hostel in Zagreb!

#Bunk Hostel Taksim in Istanbul


The #Bunk Hostel Taksim is another special hostel, located in the heart of Istanbul. Their dorms and private rooms feature a very modern look, which manages to be comfortable the same time. And have you seen the roof top lounge?! This is where they serve the breakfast with sweeping views of Istanbul.

Later in the day, you can get yourself a hookah, sip cold cocktails, and even taste some delicious Turkish food while enjoying  panoramic views. Besides the impressive design of #Bunk Hostel Taksim, they also take care of their community. Upon opening the #Bunk Hostel in this area, the neighborhood was revitalized, as many shops opened to support the influx of visitors. A truly great example of how hostels can impact the local economy!

Thanks Anna and Matt of Hostel Geeks for the guest post! To learn more about Matt, Anna and their curated collection of hostels, check out their awesome blog!

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  • Reply
    Liz Peterson
    February 18, 2016 at 11:43 am

    This is awesome, Allison, thanks for sharing! I am headed to southern Spain for 6 nights next week and I was dreading the hours I’d spend scrolling through and reading hostel reviews. So excited to check out Anna and Matt’s recommendations.

  • Reply
    Jess Munday
    October 9, 2016 at 11:38 am

    This is so useful I’ll be checking out hostelgeeks 🙂

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