Throughout my four months of traveling the USA, I stayed in a large number of hostels/backpackers/budget accommodations – some better than others! I thought I would compile a list of all of the ones I stayed at during my travels, explain the good things and bad things about each one so it can help out fellow travelers! P.s. Don’t forget to check out the Shop part of my website for a free $25 from Booking.com!
Let’s get straight into it…
Sept 2017, 7 nights, 4 and 6-bed dorm at the Green Tortoise Hostel. This hostel is AMAZING and I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing that this was my first hostel for this trip as it made the rest of them not up to par! I tried to book through booking.com and their website and it said nothing was available but I was determined to stay here after seeing the reviews so I simply called them and they made it happen (I did have to move rooms once though but it was worth it).
Pros: LOCATION (literally across the road from the Pike Place Market), organized activities every day (some free, however, if they don’t have at least 3 people for any tour it won’t go which happened twice to me), free local beer on Fridays and Saturdays until it runs out, a large amount of storage for luggage under the bed, beds have curtains, fans, lights, and power outlets. Lots of bathrooms on every floor which include a shower, toilet, and basin in one.
Cons: some PRIVATE ROOMS have little space to move around (very cramped), kinda expensive for a hostel at $64 a night
Sept 2017, 6 nights, a 4-bed dorm at Hostel International Northwest. The Hostel International is a membership-based hostel so I had to pay a small fee (maybe $20?) for a membership but I knew it would be worth it in the long run. Unfortunately, I was pretty sick my entire time in Portland so I did spend a lot of time in my room here.
Pros: a few free tours daily, beds have power outlets/fans, medium-sized storage lockers (enough for small/medium suitcases but not large ones), rooms are a little on the small side, lots of bathrooms on floor and includes shower, toilet, and basin all in one. Free bagel and drink every morning from café downstairs – café is in the same building as the hostel and has good food with decent prices. Ps. No sales tax in Oregon – what a dream!
Cons: beds are super squeaky, pretty expensive at $50 a night (that’s membership prices too), pretty far from the main downtown area (20 mins walk).
Sept 2017, 3 nights, paid for a dorm but was given a private room at the Morris Burner Hostel. Reno? Where’s Reno? Exactly the same question I had when I first heard of it. But a friend of mine grew up there and it’s right near Lake Tahoe so I wanted to check it out and see all the places he had told me about (and friend, if you’re reading this, I apologize in advance for what I’m about to say). I was still pretty sick when visiting and there’s almost nothing to do in Reno except go to the casinos so some more time was spent in bed recovering. I wouldn’t really recommend this hostel but I also wouldn’t really recommend staying in Reno at all. Spend your time in Tahoe instead.
Pros: close to downtown Reno, people working there are super friendly, an arty hostel. It’s the official hostel for Burning Man Festival if that gives you an idea of what the backyard looks like and also the type of people you find at this hostel. At check-in, I must’ve been coughing my lungs hard enough as he gave me a single room all to myself even though I had booked a dorm. It cheap at $24 a night (off-season for them).
Cons: next to a homeless camp with a lot of drugged-up people around. Walking out the front door was always a little scary. The bathrooms needed an upgrade and looked so grimy and gross that I actually didn’t shower the entire time I was there (only two days/3 nights so don’t freak out).
September 2017, 4 nights, 4-bed dorm at Mellow Mountain Hostel. It seemed to be ‘off season’ when I was traveling which worked in my favor sometimes, such as this hostel when I got the room to myself for the majority of the time, and also not in my favor as I didn’t meet very many other travelers.
Pros: got my own room majority of the time, beds are super cute (wooden and artistic), each room has its own shower/toilet/basin rather than having to leave the room, heating was incredible (especially because it snowed when I was there and I had absolutely no idea that Tahoe was super high in altitude and would snow in September!). The kitchen was fully stocked and beds came with light/power outlets and medium-sized storage lockers. The location was great, close to Heavenly Gondola mountain and a number of shops (including some amazing food options). Rooms were massive in size and weren’t packed with beds, and the price was great at $27 a night.
Cons: I can’t think of a single con for this hostel!
Read: What is the most beautiful part of Greece? The Most Beautiful Places in Greece
Yosemite National Park
October 2017, 3 nights, a 10-bed dorm at Yosemite International Hostel Groveland. I was super lucky when I visited Yosemite and managed to stay with a friend’s friend (thanks again Luke, Lydia, and Nick!) for a few days, but I did stay at a hostel for a few nights also just so I didn’t cramp Luke’s style too much. Groveland is about a 45min drive from the center of Yosemite but accommodation in Yosemite is very limited (it sells out months in advance) so it was as good as I could get for booking the week before!
Pros: massive rooms, each bed has its own power outlet and light. Free coffee (except I don’t drink coffee), each building has its own kitchen. Good food options nearby, including the oldest operating bar in California that also has delicious meals.
Cons: Only one bathroom/toilet to share with about 15 people. No storage lockers at all which was sketchy when you’re hiking all day so don’t want to leave stuff in your car and are also scared to leave it unattended in your room. Bad WiFi and there’s almost zero cell reception in Groveland. You weren’t allowed to flush the toilet paper and I’m not sure why. Pretty expensive at $43 a night.
October 2017, 1 night, a 16-bed dorm at Monterey Hostel International. After Yosemite, I headed to San Francisco where I was lucky enough to have free accommodation with my friend Sam and her mom. San Fran is notorious for crazy prices so this was so appreciative. After a week in SF, I rented a car and made my way down Highway 1 towards LA, and stopped off in Monterey for the night. Many people will recognize this place from Big Little Lies (a great book and show by the way).
Pros: Large room, free breakfast which was amazing (pancakes cooked by an employee and they had Nutella!!), free parking right next door. The TV/hangout room was large and the hostel is walking distance to the ocean.
Cons: no storage lockers, only two showers and two female toilets on the bottom floor which housed over 20 people at least. They give you coins for the showers which last 5 mins each and you can get as many as you like (I think you are given two on check-in). I liked the idea of saving water but when I had lathered my hair up in shampoo and then the water ran out, having to reach outside to get more coins was a laugh! A little expensive at $46 a night.
October 2017, 1 night, a 6-bed dorm at International Hostel Santa Barbara. Another stopover on my way to LA as I wanted to check out the little surf town that is SB.
Pros: free parking, location is great and walking distance to a number of good eateries. Okay, the price at $39 a night.
Cons: small house turned into a hostel, therefore, the rooms are small by hostel standards – absolutely no room for luggage but luckily I had a car where I could store mine. I paid for a six-bed dorm but the room was attached to another small one with 4 beds in it so essentially a 10-bed dorm. The kitchen is tiny and meant the breakfast in the morning was a bit of a mission.
October 2017, 4 nights, 6-bed dorm at Orange Drive Hostel. This was my second time visiting LA so I knew I wanted to stay in either Venice Beach/Santa Monica area or Hollywood. I had a rental car with me and I found out it’s very hard to come by a hostel that has parking included or nearby. This one had parked behind the hostel (for $10 a night which they don’t mention anywhere online).
Pros: location (one min walk to Walk of Fame and Manns Chinese Theatre), massive rooms and very well maintained. Parking on-site, free waffle breakfast (that you make yourself), free hot chocolate/coffee available all day, bunk beds were good quality ones. Vending machine on site for snacks and you could buy attraction tickets at the front desk.
Cons: storage lockers are downstairs and not in the rooms, small kitchen. Pretty expensive at $50 a night (including parking) but with a car the options are very limited for hostels in LA.
October 2017, 4 nights, 10-bed dorm at Hostel Cat. I was super excited for my first trip to Vegas and planned on enjoying the nightlife a lot but after my first night was hell expensive ($20 drinks at the club) and I had the hangover from hell (in bed til afternoon the next day), I decided that I’m too old for partying and want to explore the area instead.
Pros: Closest hostel to the strip, bus stop nearby, rooms are super dark and cold (perfect for hangovers and also when it’s 40 degrees (Celsius) outside). Power outlets near the beds, each room had its own bathroom (shower/toilet/basin), tours organized every night to different clubs, and medium-sized storage lockers in the rooms. Staff were super friendly and would hang out with guests when they weren’t working, nearby to 7/11 and other food eateries including a food truck right outside the hostel door. The price was amazing at $28 a night and had free parking right next door.
Cons: WiFi cuts out every 10 mins, and even though it’s the closest hostel to the strip it’s still over a mile away meaning an hour of walking or a quick bus trip. The AC in the room was almost too cold, as I wore winter PJs, a hoodie and had two blankets, and was still cold! I didn’t expect to ever be too cold in Vegas. Laundry was expensive at $7.50 for one wash and dry and detergent.
October 2017, 2 nights, the motel room at Knights Inn Panguitch. I had planned a week in Vegas which I knew was too long but I wanted to explore the nearby areas so I rented a car and headed to Zion National Park and found a cheap motel nearby in a very small town called Panguitch. It was also close to Bryce Canyon National Park, which along with Zion, were my favorite things I saw on my entire trip – make sure you go there if you’re nearby!
Pros: cheap price for a motel at $45 a night, King bed in the room. It was such a nice change to have a motel room to myself.
Cons: the whole place needed an upgrade but you really can’t complain about the price. It was a little cold at night though (it got down to zero degrees) and I couldn’t work out the heater in the room.
Las Vegas (again)
October 2017, 1 night, 8-bed dorm at Las Vegas Hostel. I headed back to Vegas for one night before flying out to Texas. I tried another hostel as it was a little cheaper and it had a pool.
Pros: bathroom in each room (shower/toilet/basin), medium size storage lockers, power outlet near the bed, free parking right next door, cold AC, and the pool. Amazing price at $14 a night.
Cons: It’s far from the strip but close to Fremont Street.
I visited Austin and Dayton, Ohio next but was lucky enough to stay with friends and therefore no hostel reviews here 🙂
November 2017, 3 nights, 8-bed dorm at Nashville Downtown Hostel. I’d had a pretty hectic trip up until this point and thought I should go visit friends and have a little downtime but after a few chill-out days in Austin, Texas and then in Dayton, Ohio, I needed some adventure back in my life so booked a last-minute bus ticket to Nashville. One of the best decisions I made on the trip was because I had so much fun!
Pros: rooms were big, the location was amazing (less than five mins walk away from Broadway), large communal area downstairs including a big kitchen. Pretty good price at $35 a night.
Cons: alcohol-free hostel (but that didn’t stop us drinking in our rooms), storage lockers weren’t in the rooms.
Next, I headed to Buffalo where I stayed with another friend 🙂
New York City
November 2017, 5 nights, 8 bed dorm at Hostel International New York City Hostel. Most people know that NYC is a pretty pricey place to live, and unfortunately, that also means visiting is pretty expensive. This was the cheapest, decent-looking hostel I found in New York.
Pros: An elevator! It’s so rare to come across elevators in hostels so this was a nice treat. There’s a café on the bottom floor with amazing food for really good prices, it was also open till midnight. The beds have their own lights and power outlets, and the rooms have medium-sized storage lockers.
Cons: Price was outrageous at $60 a night, WiFi didn’t work in our room and the heater was broken. I had to sleep with three blankets, my winter PJs and a hoodie on, and was still cold. For the price you’re paying, you kinda expect those things to work.
Next up was Boston where I was again super lucky to stay with another friend 🙂
November 2017, 4 nights, the motel room at Rodeway Inn Maingate Motel. My trip to Orlando was solely for the purpose of visiting Disneyworld and Universal theme parks and I knew this would be an exhausting time so I decided to “splurge” on a motel.
Pros: the price was incredible at $45 for my own hotel room (which included two queen beds), rooms were clean, there were a large number of eateries around, including a waffle house right next door. There was free parking right by the room, and the pool looked great even though I didn’t get a chance to try it. I didn’t hear a single noise from any rooms nearby which was surprising, and check-in was open 24 hours.
Cons: It’s quite far from the airport so a rental car is definitely needed (I would recommend a rental car for Orlando in general unless you’re staying at a Disney hotel), the free breakfast wasn’t really much – bagels were absolutely tiny and tasted gross. The room had a safe but I couldn’t work out how to close the door properly. The rooms and bathroom need an update but for the price I paid, I did not mind one bit.
November 2017, 3 nights, 6 bed dorm at The Hostel in South Beach. It had been a while since I had partied properly so I thought I’d head to Miami and check out the nightlife. The hostel I chose was mainly chosen on price and location but also because it was a “party hostel”.
Pros: price was amazing at $26 a night, and it’s less than two blocks away from the beach. Meals (yes more than one!) were included but weren’t the best. But if you’re on a serious budget, they feed you breakfast, lunch and dinner so it’s definitely a way to cut costs. AC was cold in the rooms, there was a bathroom in the room (shower/toilet/basin) as well as medium-sized lockers. Close to restaurants, bars, and shops. The hostel organizes tours/events every night as well as selling tickets to attractions nearby.
Cons: No parking onsite or nearby, had to park two blocks away for a price. It is a party hostel so you might be woken during the night by drunk roommates.
November 2017, 2 nights, 4 bed dorm at Seashell Motel and International Hostel. If you’ve never seen or heard of Key West, I highly suggest Google image-searching it and you’ll realize why I just had to head down here from Miami. The drive down was the most exciting part and it was such a beautiful drive. There’s not much to do in actual Key West except hang by the ocean so I stayed only 2 nights/3 days.
Pros: WiFi was the best I had all over the USA, good location to the beach and Duval Street. Parking was free and right next to the hostel. The bunk beds had curtains (these actually make such a difference), they give you towels, and they even make your own bed for you every day.
Cons: Cost was ridic high at $60 a night (same cost as NYC), no lockers or safes in the rooms, bathroom was shared with another room through a separate door which meant locking and unlocking two doors every time you peed and the shower temp never got above lukewarm.
December 2017, 5 nights, 12-bed dorm at City House Hostel New Orleans. I was so excited to head to New Orleans next as I’d heard some amazing things. I chose the hostel closest to the French Quarter and I wasn’t disappointed.
Pros: location was amazing (10 mins walk to the center of the French Quarter and less than a one-minute walk to Canal Street), a fun hostel with friendly staff who hung out with you when they were free. The hostel is less than a year old so everything is quite modern and new. They have a happy hour every evening with one free beer at 8 pm – they also sell beer relatively cheap at the reception too. Free tours every night and the rooms were massive. Pretty great price at $30 a night.
Cons: power outlets are quite far from the beds and only one or two per room (when you’re sharing a room with 12 people it’s a little tough!), the doors to the hostel rooms didn’t lock so if someone got past the main door (maybe following someone else) then they could essentially go into any room in the hostel and steal things. Lockers were in the kitchen area and not in the rooms.
December 2017, 3 nights, 10-bed dorm at Hostel International Washington, DC Hostel. Lucky last on my USA trip, and what a way to end it in the capital city.
Pros: rooms had decent-sized lockers, personal lights, and power outlets next to the beds. They give you a towel which is always appreciated. There were organized events every night (I arrived on free dinner night which was awesome!) and the location was good – walkable to a bunch of places as well as near bus and metro stations. Free breakfast with a good range of options and the guy helping In the kitchen was super cheery and helpful. Price was great at less than $30 a night.
Cons: Tiny blankets which are tough to deal with in winter, I ended up using a couple of them. No events/tours during the day but only at night. My first bed was pretty uncomfortable so I asked to switch and the second one was fine.
I hope this may help you if you ever decide to travel to the same places and are looking for budget accommodation. Please let me know if you have any questions about a destination, an accommodation provider or anything else in general!