I spent six months traveling around Australia in 2010/2011 and stayed in over 20 hostels during that time. Having spent almost the entirety of my stay in hostels, I was able to compile a list of the great and the not-so-great accommodation offerings in Oz. The one thing they all have in common is an expensive nightly rate. You can expect to pay anywhere between $20 and $30 per night for a basic dorm room.
Here are the hostels that made a favourable and lasting impression from my six month stint:
1) Sydney Central YHA
Not only was this the first hostel I stayed at in Australia, but it was the first hostel I’d ever stayed at. I had no idea what to expect and was definitely surprised when I arrived. This hostel is huge, and has a hotel-like feel about it. It has ample space and offers a great cinema room, a rooftop viewing area and swimming pool. It’s also centrally located and only steps away from the Central Railway Station.
2) Coogee Beachside Budget Accommodation
My friends and I were lucky enough to find an available room at this hostel over the busy Christmas and New Year holiday when it seemed like just about everything else was sold out. We truly lucked out as it instantly felt like home and was the perfect place to spend my first Christmas abroad.
Coogee Beachside is very small and very basic, but it’s perfectly situated a short walk from the beach and there is a supermarket right beside it. The best feature is the lovely backyard area with a barbeque and picnic tables.
We did have one bad experience here when our room was overrun by cockroaches in the middle of the night, but cockroaches seem to be a problem throughout Coogee in general.
4) The Exford Hotel- Melbourne
The Exford Hotel is similar in many ways to my beloved Coogee Beachside Budget Accommodation. It is a small, but homey hostel, and offers very basic accommodations and amenities. The positives are the friendly staff, the central location within Chinatown, and the lively pub which is attached. The only negatives being the very small kitchen which is located in the basement with little or no ventilation, and the lack of an elevator.
5) Nomads Byron Bay
This is a typical chain style hostel, but it was one of the most modern and clean accommodations I stayed in. The bathrooms were huge, with marble counter tops and spacious showers. There were also numerous lounge areas and an outdoor cinema.
6) 1770 Southern Cross Backpackers
I had never heard of the small surfing village of Seventeen Seventy before I arrived in Australia, but I’m so glad I ended up staying for a few days.
1770 Southern Cross Backpackers is one of the most unique hostels I stayed in during my time in Oz. It has a Southeast Asia vibe and the dorms are in small bungalows spread around the property. The grounds are beautiful, well kept, and lush, with plenty of outdoor space to relax.
7) Base Magnetic Island
This picturesque hostel is one of the best I’ve stayed in during all my travels. It’s located on the beach and has more of a resort feel, with lovely bungalow style accommodation surrounded by swaying palm trees. The dorms are comfortable and clean, and there is large sundeck which is perfect for sunbathing and relaxing.
Most of my hostel experiences in Oz were positive, but there were a few that were less-than-stellar. The worst hostels I stayed in are as follows:
1) 790 on George- Sydney
This hostel is similar to Sydney Central YHA as it’s located basically down the street and is a large 7 (or so) storey building. However, that is where the similarities end. The hostel was very run-down and worn, with stained carpets and ripped linens. The kitchen was also a complete disaster- full of dirty dishes, old food, and overflowing garbage cans. Needless to say, we didn’t cook any meals during our very short stay.
2) Flinders Station Backpackers- Melbourne
This hostel wasn’t necessarily horrible, but there were enough negatives to add it to my ‘worst’ list. The kitchen was usually a mess and there never seemed to be enough tables available when you wanted to eat dinner. Our room also didn’t have air conditioning, which made our summer visit fairly uncomfortable.
3) Alice Springs YHA
I was forced to reserve a 16 bed dorm due to low availability, so I had a feeling staying at the Alice Springs YHA wouldn’t be the greatest experience even before I even arrived. The hostel was dark and not particularly inviting, and I was kept awake the entire night by an obnoxiously loud snorer.
I was lucky that majority of my accommodation experiences in Australia were good ones. Many of these hostels bring back lovely memories because of the amazing people and experiences that came along with them.