Guide to the Best Backpacker Hostels in India

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Staying in a dorm at hostel is a popular choice for backpackers throughout the world. However, up until recent years, there weren't any backpacker hostels in India as the concept hadn't caught on. Travelers preferred cheap guesthouses over the dull and restrictive youth hostels that existed in India.

That's changed now though -- and how! Groovy backpacker hostels are rapidly popping up all over the country. Some are chains, while others are stand-alone brands. You can expect most of the facilities of world-class backpacker hostels including fully-equipped lounges, games, activities, free wireless Internet, lockers, dorm rooms with hot water and attached bathrooms, washing machines, and air-conditioning. Many properties also have communal kitchens or cafes, female-only dorms, and private rooms. Rates vary depending on location, and start from about 300 rupees per night for a dorm bed.

Not surprisingly, the hostels are very popular with young Indians and foreign travelers alike. Here are the top hostel chain options in India.

Also, check out these top destinations for backpacking in India.

Zostel

Zostel, launched in 2013, is India's oldest backpacker hostel chain. It has successfully implemented a franchise model and Entrepreneurship Development Program, which has enabled it to open nearly 40 properties in key locations across the country (plus two in Nepal). Each is designed to have a youthful, vibrant atmosphere. Zostel has also started offering immersive local experiences to guests in some places, as well as package trips to various traveler circuits in India and Nepal. In mid 2020, Zostel introduced workation and staycation packages. The company also recently launched its Zostel X (rebranded as Zostel Homes) chain of properties, focused on homestays in offbeat destinations, particularly the mountains of Himachal Pradesh.

  • Locations: Alleppey, Aurangabad, Bangalore, Barot, Bir, Chennai, Chitkul, Coorg, Dalhousie, Delhi, Gangtok, Gokarna, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Kochi, Kodaikanal, Kolad, Leh, Manali, McLeod Ganj, Mukteshwar, Mumbai, Musoorie, Mysore, Ooty, Panchgani, Pushkar, Rishikesh, Spiti, Udaipur, Vagamon, Varkala, Wayanad.
  • Website: Zostel.

The Hostel Crowd

The Hostel Crowd is a dynamic group of people who want to make a difference and bring about social change. The chain's hostels each have their own very distinct character and are housed in unique premises, such as heritage properties and a jungle environment. The first one opened in Goa in 2013. Sustainability is a core value and the hostels are all staffed by members of the local community. Providing guests with a wide range of experiences is also a focus, and the hostel chain offers interesting and affordable tours. Other added extras are among the best coffee in Goa, complimentary breakfasts, and hair dryers and straighteners in the female dorms.

  • Locations: Jungle Hostel (Vagator), Summer Hostel (Palolem), and Old Quarter Hostel (Panjim) in Goa.
  • Website: The Hostel Crowd.

Moustache Hostel

Moustache Hostel (so named because nothing is more Indian than a Rajasthani mustache) aims to be India's trendiest chain of hostels, and it's certainly doing an excellent job of it. The properties are beautifully decorated, with elements that bring out the cultural heritage of each area. After being founded in Delhi, Moustache relocated to Jaipur in 2015 and opened a plush designer hostel created from scratch. The chain now has hostel in eight states across India. Activities are based on sustainable tourism, and focus on giving guests offbeat experiences while positively helping local communities.

  • Locations: Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Pushkar, Varanasi, Agra, Rishikesh, Spiti, Manali, McLeodGanj, Khajuraho, Delhi, Goa, Bangalore.
  • Website: Moustache Hostel.

GoSTOPS Hostels

GoSTOPS is another chain of boutique hostels that's expanding across India. The focus is on "social and experiential stays". Numerous activities are arranged including Bollywood nights, Indian cook-outs, local music events, and vibrant festival celebrations. The hotel chain launched its first property in Varanasi in early 2014, and it immediately became a hit with travelers. Since then it has added many more properties in popular mountain and city locations. Workcation packages are also available.

  • Locations: Agra, Amritsar, Bir, Dalhousie, Delhi, Mumbai, Naggar, Rishikesh, Udaipur, Varanasi, Jaipur, Leh, Palampur, McLeodGanj, Manali, Kochi, Munnar, Alleppey, Mussoorie.
  • Website: Stops Hostels.

Backpacker Panda

Founded in September 2015 in Pune, Maharashtra, this hostel chain has a mission to "escape the ordinary". It quickly scaled up its operations to become the largest hostel chain in India and has also expanded internationally, offering 670 stays in 175 cities and 19 countries. The chain focuses on providing clean, upscale backpacker accommodations at an affordable price. It offers longstays as well. The Mumbai flagship property is conveniently located in the Colaba tourist district.

The Hosteller

The Hosteller first opened in Jaipur in 2014 before closing and moving to Delhi a year later. They call themselves "social hostels for the social animal". Their focus is on creating memories for travelers who are looking for a bit more than just a vacation, and they run many fixed-departure trips to offbeat destinations in the mountains. The chain's yellow-black themed hostels are stylish and modern. Most are located in Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh. Workations are offered.

  • Locations: Delhi, Goa, Kasol, Manal, McLeod Ganj, Bir, Jhibi, Rishikesh, Jaipur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Pushkar.
  • Website: TheHosteller.

Madpackers

A place for "community, friendships and stories", Madpackers opened its first hostel in late 2014, in a trendy south Delhi location just a few minutes from Hauz Khas Metro station and Hauz Khas village. The rooftop terrace even has real grass. How fabulous! This is possibly the best hostel in Delhi. It's super popular. The hostel chain is currently in the process of expanding, with more new destinations coming soon.

  • Locations: Delhi, Manali, Amritsar, Agra, Pushkar, Rishikesh, Jibhi, Khajuraho, Mukteshwar.
  • Website: Madpackers Hostel.

Horn Okay Please, Mumbai

Horn Okay Please is conveniently located in the midst of the action in Bandra West. This "sociable" hostel aims to create a community-oriented space for travelers. It occupies a 100 year old heritage bungalow that's been stunningly renovated in vibrant, quirky style. All rooms have air conditioning, comfortable mattresses, and long beds for tall people. There's also a travel desk and private rooms are available.

Alt.Life Hostels

This innovative new hostel chain was set up around the concept of co-working and community living. It’s the best place for you to chill, unwind, co-work and make new friends as you travel. Experience standardized quality, fun shared spaces, cafes, and uber comfortable dorms and double rooms at affordable prices. The hostel chain aims to "make switching to your alternate life easier!"

HOTs (Heart of Travellers) Hiking Hostel

HOTs has a novel concept -- it opened in 2017 and is India's first "hiking" hostel. As the name suggests, this hostel encourages people to enjoy the great outdoors by going on treks and hikes. The properties are surrounded by nature. Guests love the yummy food and fresh air!

  • Locations: Tallital, Jeolikote, Kurpatal, Bhujaghat, Kesar Devi - Uttarakand.
  • Website: Hots Hostel.

 

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