Top 10 India hostels from Varkala to Varanasi as ranked by Nat Geo Traveller
The landscape of affordable hostels in India has been changing over the last few years, moving away from dingy, musty and dark rooms to quirky, stylish lodgings that are on par with their European counterparts. A recent article published on Nat Geo traveller ranks the top 10 India hostels from Varkala to Varanasi. Read on to find out who made the list.
In more recent years India has given an incredible boost to its selection of value lodgings with newer, spruced up versions that are a far cry from previously dingy, musty and uninspiring dorms. These newly refreshed, quirky and colourful hostels have nothing to envy the standards of similar European accommodation.
Fabiola Monteiro, writing for Nat Geo Traveller, recently compiled a list of the top 10 hostels covering the long span between Varkala in Kerala to Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, creating an ideal multi-stop journey where the best budget retreats all offer atmospheric decor, cosy rooms and fantastic add-ons such as free Wi-Fi.
Starting from all the way down, at India’s south-westernmost point we have the Vedanta Wake Up! in Varkala, a beautiful property with a spacious courtyard in which guests can relax on a hammock beneath the shade of leafy coconut trees. Perfectly sitting atop North Cliff, this hostel enjoys a great location, just steps away from magnificent beach views and in close proximity to the main street, bursting with colourful cafes.
Moving our way up, the next property is in beach-perfect Goa but its location will allow you to explore beyond the golden sands. The Old Quarter in Panjim sits right at heart of Panjim’s Latin Quarter in Fontainhas, a neighbourhood full of Portuguese-style houses and singboards. Beyond the cosy accommodation, guests can look forward to a pretty cafe boasting a fantastic book collection.
Moving sideways from Goa to Karnataka, the next hostel in the top 10 list is the Social Rehab in Bengaluru, found just footsteps away from the popular microbrewery of Toit and offering private rooms as well as cosy male and female dormitories. For unwinding there’s a common area with board games and a good selection of DVDs. To top it up the hostel also helps guests arrange trips to nearby attractions in Goa, Hampi and Mysore.
On our way up once again and moving to the east this time, we find our next two hostels, just 15 minutes from each other: Stops Hostel and International Traveller’s Hostel, both in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. First up, the Stops Hostel occupies a spacious flat in Bhelupur, just a 10-minute stroll to Kedar Ghat. Rooms are basic but the common room comes alive with quirky wall paintings, including one quoting “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, while the wooden benches on the terrace are an inviting place to enjoy the sounds of Benaras and mingle with other travellers. Regular Bollywood movie nights entertain guests as well as frequently arranged heritage walks through Varanasi.
Around three kilometres to the north we have the International Traveller’s Hostel & Bistro, where rooms feature floor-to-ceiling glass windows with striking views to the lush garden. The hostel was once a summer house for the Queen of Nepal and you can tell there’s something definitely regal to it. Now a family-run property guess can choose from dorms beds (with female-only dorms available) to double private rooms and tents in the garden. The bistro serves international cuisine, ranging from pasta to puri bhaji, with spice levels turned down for foreign palates.
Moving back to the west, to the south of the Rajasthan region we have the Bunkyard Hostel, where the beauty lies in the details with creeping plants hanging from the stairwell, scalloped arches adding character while glass-shaded lamps add charm and big wall art livens it all up. What’s special about this hostel is its system for allocating rooms, as it does so based on guests’ music preferences. Here backpackers can choose from jazz, RnB, flamenco and reggae which is played all throughout the day inside the dormitories. The rooftop is the place to go in the evening to drink in a complimentary cup of chai accompanied by beautiful sunset views.
Up and to the right a bit the Moustache Hostel in Jaipur, Rajasthan is next. With vibrantly coloured upholstery and typical Rajasthani furniture in its common room, this hostel is faithful to the region it sits in with plenty of design features inspired by authentic Rajasthani style and crafts. Rooms might be basic but they’re clean and comfortable. The big draw here is the hostel’s rooftop cafe, which overlooks the historic Nahragarh Fort.
Continuing with our upwards journey, next on the map we have the Jugaad in Delhi, perfectly located to two of the capital’s biggest tourist attractions: the cafe and bar ascene at Hauz Khas Village and the bustling markets at Sarojini Nagar. The rooms here are a blend of both worlds and they are named after historic monuments in the city. Its best feature is the atmospheric open terrace dotted by cane armchairs and frequently filled with chatty travellers exchanging travel stories. Girls-only rooms are available too.
Moving upwards again, about 500 kilometres north of Delhi’s Jugaad stands the Jugaadus Eco Hostel in Amritsar, Punjab. Its location makes it a great base for exploring the rich cultural heritage of Amritsar, while guests can tuck into delicious, buttery dhaba meals served at the hostal’s common room. Accounting for the hostel’s eco credentials, tables are made from recycled rubber tyres while mattresses are filled with organic cotton obtained from local farms. And they don’t plan to stop here either as there are plans for switching to solar energy and growing veggies on the terrace. Food walks and guided tours such as the night tour of the Golden Temple are also offered here.
Next up, in Himachal Pradesh, the Zostel in Spiti takes the gold when it comes to budget. Offering breath-taking mountain views at low altitude prices, this is one of the newest properties in the market and takes enormous pride in being the highest hostel in all of Asia. From its inner courtyard and some of its rooms you can drink in spectacular views of the Himalayas and verdant fields. For those wanting a closer encounter with nature outdoor tents are also available for starry nights under a star-filled sky.
And that pretty much wraps it up, here you have the list of India’s top 10 budget-friendly hostels as judged by Nat Geo Traveller. These are the top value lodgings in which to enjoy culture, history and good company in the form of similarly-inclined fellow travellers and backpackers for a fraction of the cost, without having to rough it up too much.
Talk to a specialist
Call 020 7644 1770 to speak with our award-winning travel consultants.
Opening hours 09:00 - 20:00 GMT
Popular Holidays In India Browse all
Explore India's famed landmarks and rich culture on an all-encompassing adventure that leaves no stone unturned
- Call now to upgrade to a private tour, including a private car and driver, and personal local guides
- Envisage many world renowned sights including the Taj Mahal with amazing inclusions to experience such as an exclusive Rajasthani Feast
- During the tour you'll be able to enjoy various extras including a bicycle rickshaw ride in Old Delhi, a Chambal River Safari and much more
Journey through the heart of India exploring various monuments including The Taj Mahal and The Golden Temple in Amritsar
Go on a holiday of a lifetime visiting many of the must see tourist spots and more secluded parts that will memorable memories
- Visit the Wagah border to experience the amazing "Lowering of the Flag" ceremony a once in a lifetime activity to witness
- An English-Speaking local Guide will take you around the sightseeing and excursion tours as per the itinerary
- Experience a feast to remember with a traditional Rajasthani family dinner in vibrant Jaipur and enjoy two fabolous dinners in Amritsar
Spend your days exploring some of the country's most iconic landmarks and spectacular sights on this tour of a lifetime
- Visit the famous Heritage Village of Pragpur, Home to the famous Kangra School of Paintings
- Travel into the famous Himalayas and you will witness the region's rich heritage, breathtaking views and culture
- During the tour, you will visit some of India's most famous monuments including the Golden Temple, India Gate, Qutub Minar and much more
Marvel at the Magnificent Taj Mahal and discover the Forts of Rajasthan then head south to enjoy an all inclusive beach holiday in Sri Lanka
- Enjoy a Horse Carriage & ride while visiting the Taj Mahal & Elephant Ride to Amber Fort*
- Enjoy a Rajasthani Feast in Jaipur
- Complete your stay with an All Inclusive break in Sri Lanka - Staying at the Beachside Haven Tangerine Beach
Uncover the charms of India as you spend eight days touring some of its most important touristic sites. The Golden...
Be introduced to the magic of India with the perfect 9 night tour encompassing amazing sights through the cities of...
Enjoy an India adventure with this ten night tour of some of India's most mystical cities and attractions. This is a...
Discover the untold treasures of the capital of the Indian state of Kerala with an eight-day excursion to Trivandrum. It...
Nazri Resort has a prime location on the edge of the white sandy Baga Beach set in lush greenery and is flanked by the...
Ideally located on the shore of the longest beach, The Zuri White Sands, Goa Resort and Casino is perfect for those...