If you’re one of those people who still thinks hostels are death wishes, it’s time to get with the program. These accommodation alternatives have come a long way over the years and are now one of the best options for the budget traveler. Everyone loves a bit of pampering now and then at a beautiful hotel, but often hostels can provide an even more magical experience. Why dish out your life savings for a secluded room and “free wifi in the lobby” when you could pay $10 to stay in an immersed environment with tons of free amenities? Check out these 10 unique hostels that will beat staying in a hotel any day.
1. Drop Bear Hostel (Santa Marta, Colombia)
From the outside, Drop Bear Hostel looks like any other high-quality hostel: inexpensive yet cozy rooms, inviting common areas, a pool, and a spacious kitchen. However, we all know that there is often more than meets the eye, and this hostel is no different. This mansion used to be owned by one of the largest Colombian drug cartels of the 1980s (Pablo Escobar even stayed here!), and it is packed full of secret hiding places, cryptic codes inscribed on the walls, two underground tunnels, and a secret basement used for hiding whiskey. If you ask nicely, the hostel owner will give you a tour and teach you all about the history of Colombia’s drug trade. Learn more about its interesting history here.
2. Caveland Hostel (Santorini, Greece)
Appropriately named for its cave-like rooms that used to be home to an 18th century winery, Caveland Hostel (shown above) is an absolutely beautiful hostel. Located on the picturesque Greek island of Santorini, this hostel captures the essence of the island: breathtaking sea views, a light and airy atmosphere, flower-covered terraces, and even a pool. Why pay triple to stay in a hotel when you can get the real Santorini experience here?
3. Kadir’s Tree House (Olympos, Turkey)
This sounds exactly like what it is: a hostel made of tree houses. Perfect for the adventurous and not afraid of heights, Kadir’s will instantly have you reminiscing about your playful youth. Located on the Mediterranean coast, there are many options for rock climbing, swimming, and scuba diving nearby, and the on-site nightclub makes this hostel a definite winner. Don’t forget to check out the ruins of the nearby Lost City, too!
4. Fauzi Azar Inn (Nazareth, Israel)
An Arab mansion built in stone over 200 years ago, the Fauzi Azar Inn is without doubt one of the most beautiful hostels in the world. This mansion was owned by the Azar family, known as one of the richest families in Galilee, and features impressive hand-painted ceilings, Turkish marble floors, a limestone arch-filled courtyard, and amazing panoramic views. Located in the Old City of Nazareth, visitors can feel totally integrated in the city’s rich history and culture. A place of this caliber should be hard on the wallet, but rejoice in knowing that it is extremely affordable, especially with the endless supply of free Arabic coffee, herbal teas, and homemade baked goods!
Read next: How to Choose the Perfect Hostel
5. Jumbo Stay (Stockholm, Sweden)
Do you find yourself unable to get a good night’s sleep on planes? The Jumbo Stay hostel has solved your problem! It is made from a real jumbo jet located right at the Stockholm Arlanda Airport, so visitors can spend the night with a front-row view of planes taking off. This hostel promises you the window seat, plenty of legroom, and no annoying children kicking the back of your chair.
There are more cool hostels– keep reading!