The ultimate guide to Australia Hostel Accommodation

Why choose Hostel Accommodation in Australia

Hostel Accommodation in Australia is good value and an affordable way to stay in places where you would otherwise spend hundreds of dollars for a night.

For the solo traveller to Australia, hostels are not only an option of good value budget accommodation but also a great way of aggregation. Travellers who stay in hostels want to network, create connections, meet fellow travellers and make friends; they are also likely to join groups and become more integrated into the local community during their stay in Australia.

Sydney Harbour YHA Hostel
There are different types of Hostel Accommodation in Australia and you shall be prepared to know a few things before booking yourself into a hostel.

Types of hostels in Australia

There are a few features that draw the in-visible line between classic hostels from backpacker hostels in Australia. The most known and established YHA hostels. There are more hostel chains like Nomads and Base, these are popular in the backpacker hostels scene though.

Backpacker Hostels

Backpacker hostels, known among the youngsters, are the home-away-from-home of many working holidays makers and students coming from all over the world and settling into their new temporary Aussie Life.

The typical feature of backpacker hostels is a relaxed atmosphere and of course, a vibrant party atmosphere that distinguishes them from classic hostels. Within the backpacker hostels category, there are also different kind of services. Some offer a basic service while others have excellent facilities and great locations, some also offer a higher service than classic hostels do, like free airport pick-up, free breakfast and more freebies. But you may also bump into backpacker hostels in rundown buildings, not even meeting the basic requirements of cleanliness and security.

Backpacker Hostels Dorms

Classic Hostels

Australian Hostels are known for the high standard of services, however, within this category, there are different kind of services, ranging from excellent, good, average and less good too. Classic hostels are frequented by people of all ages, from professionals, pensioners, international travellers, women travelling alone, to school groups, group tours, etc. The most known hostel chain is YHA Australia which is, in my opinion, the best hostels to stay in Australian cities.

You can read my YHA reviews here.

On my solo trips, I stayed in over 40 Australian hostels.

Australia Hostels Accommodation

Tips for booking hostels in Australia

When booking hostels in Australia there are a few things you shall know. If you book through a search engine like Hostelworld, you will be charged for a small deposit fee, but you don’t need to pay upfront. If you book from the YHA hostels website, you need to pay upfront the entire amount but you can cancel your booking up to 48 hours prior to arrival for a full refund of the amount.

If you book directly with a privately owned hostel, you may be asked to give details of your credit card but you will not be charged until you show up. Cancellation policy may vary, so always check the booking conditions of every single hostel.

Book backpackers and hostels: browse now for the best hostel deals.

Hostels Private Rooms

Reasons for staying in Australian Hostels

Travelling on a long term in Australia for many years to me meant staying in Australian hostels. While over the years I have tried many different hostels, YHA is definitely my favourite hostel chain in Australia.

What I like most of the hostels in Australia is:

  • The central location – they are mostly located in the city centre and on strategic places, beachfront or in natural parks.
  • The great facilities – most of them offer a full range of facilities from the basic of kitchen/laundry to internet cafès and travel forum and services so that connection is guaranteed.
  • The accommodation options – in most hostels, you can book a twin or a double, so that you do not have to share dorms with strangers. Single rooms are available in some hostels, at reasonable prices too. Double and single private rooms rates are on average the same as in guest houses or B&B with the difference that facilities are better.
  • The great value for the money you pay – you get what you pay and usually with great service.
  • Security in Hostels: Some hostels offer 24hours check-in reception and have excellent video-cameras installed in communal areas, that adds extra value to your stay.

Fremantle-Prison-YHA-Dorms

Rules for finding the best hostels in Australia

Here a list of tips for hostel booking when travelling around Australia. Good hostels always put photos of their entire facilities so that people can see what the places look like and what it offers.

In many years of solo travel in Australia, I stayed in over 35 Australian hostels. Here below, you can find a checklist to help you evaluate and choose the right type of hostel.

  1. Check the hostel location – Reception and Service
    I usually do that because most of the times I travel solo and want to feel comfortable when walking home at night. Therefore the very first thing I check is where the hostel is located.
    Moreover, I also appreciate when the reception has night surveillance; most hostel chains have this service, the family-run hostels have limited service to midnight or so.
  2. Check the lodging options – What rooms are available
    If I choose to share a dorm, I only share with four female dorms or fewer. I do not like mix dorms, and the max number of people is 4 for me. I check if twins and doubles are also available to have the choice. If you opt for unisex dorms, prefer those with the lowest number of beds. Usually, there are four bunk-beds, but some hostels offer dorms with three beds. Grab one bed in there and ask if there are private rooms to be rented on a shared option too. I would also avoid six and higher shared dorms and mixed dorms.
  3. Hostel Facilities
    This is also a crucial aspect. It much depends on how long you are staying at each hostel. If you are planning to stay a few days, make sure everything you need during your stay is offered. The kitchen and the laundry service, the internet cafe, the travel service, and whatever you may need. Each hostel usually runs a website where you can check the services listed, as well as the rates and the availability. The good furnished and functional kitchen is a precondition. Laundry, Wi-Fi is also a must. Free Wi-Fi is usually offered in communal areas. This is a plus in Australia, as the internet is expensive. Free airport or bus-station pick-up is useful, especially in rural or Outback regions.
  4. Hostel Trend
    This is also something I always check. I do not like those backpacker hostels where parties are organised every evening, and loud music is on till in the night. Again it depends on what you are looking for. I love fun and entertainment, but also to a certain degree. Furthermore, I prefer staying in small hostels rather than in those giant buildings with thousands of people in it. The crowd is not really my thing.
  5. Hostels reviews
    For big hostel chains like Nomads or the Youth Hostel Association (YHA), you get hostel reviews from their websites but also on many website aggregators and comparison sites like Hostelworld.  To 95% of cases, reviews are genuine true comments so that you can rely on what they say. But on the other hand, everyone is different and perceive a service or a feature of the hostel differently. This especially matters with cleanliness.

Pros and Cons of Hostel Accommodation

Well, as great as the Australian hostels may be, you must know that a certain level of adaptation is needed. If you choose to share dorms and have not experienced it yet, then you may need a while before you get used to it. For me it has been pretty difficult to get used to sharing dorms I always have been lucky with my roommates.

While there are many advantages of staying in hostels in Australia, there are also drawbacks. Here is the list of the pros and cons of staying in hostels.

The Good things about hostels:

  • An excellent way of meeting fellow travellers and make friends while travelling.
  • It’s the perfect way of finding out about events and travel opportunities.
  • There is a chance of sharing ideas, thoughts, tips, information and all-around experience.
  • For solo travellers an excellent source for car-sharing or finding out about tours and travel companions.
  • It is an excellent way of saving money on accommodation while travelling in Australia.

The Bad Things about Hostels

  • Snoring Dorm Mates
    Snoring and noise represent the most significant issue while sharing dorms and are the first cause of sleep disruption too. Sharing dorms requires a good spirit of adaptation.
  • Night Owl Dorm Mates
    The same for those who have twisted the day for the night and are used to stay up till late night and go to bed in the early hours of the morning. Inevitably they will make noise while entering the room at night, so you must be prepared for that too. Earplugs are a good thing to pack when sleeping in hostel dorms.
  • Aircon in the Dorms
    I have seen people having substantial arguments over this topic again and again. Usually, during the day everyone seems to be happy to enter a nicely refrigerated room, the troubles with the air-con usually arise at night when people go to sleep and here the fight starts. Too cold, too warm, this is going to be an ever-ending moaning.  Most hostels have their day-and-night Air condition regulations, which is the best solution to avoid any perpetual argument. Small privately private hostels let people in each room arrange how to handle the Air Condition issue, so be prepared for that too.
  • Eating in the Hostels Dorms
    While all hostels small and big ones do have kitchen facilities, occasionally you may bump into roommates who love to have their meal in the dorms. Again there is hostel etiquette that you must follow, which is no food in the dorms, and you should nicely remind your dorm mates of this rule.
  • Beware of Hostel Scams
    While hostels are an excellent way to save money on accommodation, especially for solo travellers, nonetheless you need to be prepared and adjust to situations. Don’t rely 100% on search engine results for quality hostels. All that shines is not always gold, unfortunately, so there is no 100% guarantee that the place matches their photos on the internet. If you are not sure about your choice, the best thing to do is to book for the first night and see what the experience is like. You can always extend your stay if you like the hostel or you can leave straight away. On a trip to Western Australia, I had booked a single private room into a backpacker hostel in Perth that Google delivered as a boutique hostel. This hostel had been rewarded as the best backpackers hostel in W.A., but my private room turned out to be far from this promise and left straight away. I am also open to more ways of budget accommodation like private solo stay with Airbnb or housesitting in Australia as a good alternative to hostel accommodation.

Conclusion about staying in Hostels in Australia

My personal experience while staying in the Australian hostels has been overall positive and apart from the sleeping disorders I had for the first weeks, I always have been lucky with my roommates. I have learnt that a certain etiquette in hostels is vital for living together and share wonderful life hostel experiences. Be yourself an be an example of the ideal hostel etiquette that you would like to have, and for sure you will naturally receive back the kindness and the attention you are also prepared to give to others.
Either love it or hate it, hostel life is somehow part of your travel experience that you will not regret. Living in hostels is indeed a tough test for your behavioural and survival skills, a vast opportunity to learn from yourself and from other’s perspective of living and enjoying life outside the box.
If you plan to travel around Australia and stay in Australian hostels but also want to consider more budget Accommodation options for female travellers, here is a complete guide for women travelling solo in Australia.