If the thought of staying in commercialized Manali town (New Manali) doesn't appeal to you, head a few kilometers uphill to the village of Old Manali. Surrounded by apple orchards and populated by rustic local homes, it's frequented by foreign travelers, backpackers and cosmopolitan young Indians. The mood is chilled and the accommodations are inexpensive, with a multitude of new hostels opening up in the last couple of years. These cheap budget guesthouses and hostels are among the best places to stay away from the crowd in Manali. All offer free wireless Internet, but the speed may vary. When it's not busy, prices are often negotiable! Long stay rates are often available too.
If you're planning a trip to Manali, also have a read of this helpful Manali Travel Guide.
Orchards House is ideal for travelers who want a social community vibe without staying in a typical backpacker hostel. It's tucked away amid apple and cherry orchards in the center of Old Manali, about five minutes walk from the main road. The route will take you past village homes, animals, and locals going about their daily activities. The property is set up really well with lush garden and communal spaces to hang out in, shared balconies, a kitchen that guests can use, an in-house cafe, beers, and a wide range of rooms to suit everyone. These include a dormitory, family apartments, triple rooms, double rooms, and single rooms. Colorful art adds to the bohemian feel, and the young manager is extra helpful. What more could you want? Rates range from 380-500 rupees per night for a bed in a dormitory, and 855 rupees to 3,000 rupees per night for a private room.
Part of the prolific and popular Zostel chain, this lively hostel is set in leafy surrounds off the main road towards Manu Temple at the top of the hill and down a track past a few cow sheds. So, it's not as accessible other backpacker hostels in Old Manali. You'll need to walk down narrow alleyways to get there but the benefit is the environment. As well as the usual dorm rooms, the property has private double rooms with stunning mountain views and garden cafe that serves authentic Himachali food. It also has dogs and is pet-friendly. The Community Manager excels at bringing guests together and organizing activities. There are both mixed and female-only dorms, with two or four beds. Some have shared bathrooms. Expect to pay 2,400 rupees per night for a private room, and 699 rupees for a bed in a dorm room.
Madpackers is another hostel with village vibes and a pretty garden setting, situated in between Zostel and Orchards House up on the hill. It also requires a bit of a walk to reach but guests find it hard to fault the place and particularly love the delicious food. An on-site laundry is a bonus for long stays. The mixed dorms have six beds in each, while the female-only dorm has four beds. They're priced at around 500 rupees per night. Double rooms cost around 1,500 rupees upwards per night, and it's 1,900 rupees upwards for a family room that sleeps three.
Near the Club House at the bottom of Old Manali, Eagle Guesthouse is bright and cheerful. It's run by a young husband and wife team -- he's Indian and she's Israeli. They have two children and a dog, which provides a warm family atmosphere. Indian, Chinese and Israeli cuisine is served. Travel services, including bike hire and tour bookings, are offered as well. There are eight double rooms priced from 1,000-1,500 rupees per night. Breakfast and free wireless Internet are included! Read reviews of Eagle Guesthouse on Tripadvisor here.
Moustache has an excellent reputation as a chain of boutique backpacker hostels in India. Their Manali hostel opened in mid 2018 and is no exception. It's situated at the bottom of the hill, just across the bridge when entering at Old Manali, and is blessed with the sound of the flowing river. It's a handy location, as there are many cafes in the area plus transport to Manali town. The rooms are clean and really comfortable. Various activities are offered, such as chai classes, treks, games nights and bonfire nights. Or, simply read a book from the in-house library. A bed in a dorm room costs from 275 rupees per night and a private double room is from 899 rupees per night. Female travelers particularly like this hostel and feel safe in the female-only dorm.
In the same area as Moustache Hostel, Young Monk is a cozy hostel with two private double rooms and 12 bunk beds (four per room). The rooms all open onto a patio with garden and mountain views, and there's a cafe that serves delicious food on the huge rooftop where a co-working and lounge space has been set up. Inside, the modern interiors are decorated with a contemporary grey, black, and white color scheme. The three hosts are fabulous company and create a really upbeat vibe. Many guests end up extending their stay because they love it there so much! The price is appealing as well. 300 rupees per night for a dorm bed, and 1,300 rupees per night for a private double.
This recently built hostel aims to enable guests to experience different ways of life and cultures. It's a relaxed and homely family-run place with a friendly resident dog, and funky common space and cafe on the rooftop. Workstations have been installed, making it ideal for a workation with stable and fast internet. Its central location in Old Manali is convenient as well. Expect to pay around 400 rupees per night for a bed in a female-only or mixed dorm. There are private double rooms, some with their own balconies, priced from 1,599 rupees per night.
GoSTOPS has taken over what was House of Amigos, in the central area of Old Manali just off the main road near Drifters' Cafe. The property has a welcoming vibe and budget rooms that are set around grassy courtyard with seating and evening bonfires. Indoor games, including a PlayStation, are provided and activities are frequently arranged. Beds in mixed dorms from 300 rupees per night, double rooms from 1,300 rupees per night, and family rooms with two double beds from 1,700 rupees per night.
A fun hostel that offers clean and simple accommodations, and a central location in Old Manali. YOLO Backpackers is most suited to young travelers who love to party as the beer flows freely in the evenings, and DJs and live musicians regularly perform. After all, you only live once! There's well-brewed coffee to wake you up in the mornings too. Double rooms with shared bathrooms start from 899 rupees per night.
What really makes Backpacker Headquarters stand out is its riverside location, across the bridge in Old Manali but away from the roadside and any noise. All you'll hear is the soothing sound of the rushing water. The terrace cafe is ideally positioned to sit and soak up the views. There are also bonfires, movie nights, card games, farm visits, nature trails, late night treks, adventure sports and other activities. The super caring and friendly staff will go out of their way to make you feel at home. Accommodations consist of four and six bedded dorm rooms, including one exclusively for females. Plus, two categories of double rooms, the deluxe ones with private balconies. Rates start from around 430 rupees per night for a dorm room, and 1,800 rupees per night for a double.
The Hosteller chain is a new entrant on the scene in Old Manali and is situated just before the bridge, so it's somewhat quieter and less busy than hostel chains on the other side of the river. Yet, everything is still readily accessible. The property is large and well-equipped with 20 dorms and five private rooms, The Hogger traveler's cafe, plenty of balconies and chill-out spaces, a library area, travel desk, and adventure activities. Expect to pay 449 rupees per night for dorm bed, and 1,999-2,500 rupees per night for a private double.
Rockway is an adventure and trekking themed backpacker's hostel. Even reaching it is a bit of an adventure, as it requires a 10 minute trek along a forest path from People Cafe on the main road in Old Manali. If you want to stay in seclusion, you'll love the wild location through. The hostel borders the Mansalu River and gets its name from the fact that it's on the way to the famous Old Manali Rock. It aims to attract travelers who are the right combination of "peace and party". There's a common room, games room and cafe to hang out in. Plus, 12 guest rooms, which are a mix of mixed dorms and private rooms (including a family room). Rates range from around 300 rupees to 1,500 rupees per night.
If Rockway is full, try Vatika Hostel next door. It has tents, as well as dorms and private rooms.
Perched right at the top of the hill past Manu Temple and near Rocky's Cafe, Timberwolves guesthouse provides outstanding uninterrupted views from its rooms. All have balconies and big windows! The only drawback is that the steep walk up the hill may get tiring but taking an auto rickshaw is possible. You can trek to Jogni falls from the guesthouse, making it suitable for those who prefer to be close to nature and away from the action. The terrace cafe serves great food, and the owner and his wife are extremely helpful. Double rooms are priced at around 1,300 rupees per night, and 1,850 rupees for a family suite with two double beds.