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When travelling around the world, we like to see new things, experience new thrills and of course meet new people, whether they be local people or other travellers. One of the best places to meet new travellers is in hostels. Worldwide, these places to stay have been known for being a great and overall cheap place to stay and having a drink or two with likeminded travellers. Although most people staying in hostels are probably in the 18 to 30 year range, these days there are many hostels welcoming people of all ages. And although some of the hostels might be pure dumps and no good value at all, there are quite a few places which constantly get raving views of travellers because they are not only cheap but also clean, in great locations and with great amenities and staff.
While below is a list of some of the most famous hostels in the world, it is a rather subjective list of course and famous might not even be the best word to describe them. Maybe it is a combination of being famous, awkward, beautiful, stylish or it has great atmosphere or an unusual location or theme. And although most are probably worth spending the night, it is not said that all of these places are one of the better options in the vicinity. They are just...well...different. At least they stand out for some reason. And sometimes they are just mentioned because they are very good!
It is not intended to be an overview of the best or cheapest hostels, and most details regarding rooms, prices, facilities etc. are not mentioned below, but generally you can find them in the link to the hostel's website.
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The Chungking Mansions is a notorious building on Hong Kong's Nathan Rd. It's not a single hostel, but it packs a hundred-odd guesthouses and hostels into the one building. Though some are of reasonable standard, most can be considered last-case resorts. The building was an inspiration for Wong Kar-Wai's film Chungking Express. Aside from the accommodation, the bottom floors also are packed with eateries, businesses and sweatshops. The Guangdong Guest House is one of the more popular options in the Chungking Mansions.
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Carbisdale Castle was built by the Duchess of Sutherland and has been used as a youth hostel since 1945. It is operated by the Scottish Youth Hostels Associationis and located high above the Kyle of Sutherland river in northern Scotland, in the Ross and Cromarty region in the Highlands. The closest towns are Culrain, Invershin, Lairg, Ardgay and Bonar Bridge. Culrain railway station is located nearby. The place is said to be haunted and has its own Statue Gallery.
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Ok, the Cats Hostel is not your standard hostel and unless you are smaller than the smallest person on Earth, you won't fit in either. But it's there and it's sort of famous...at least in Riga, the capital of Latvia. If you are lucky you will actually see cats in or near the hostel, which is located near the Riga Old Town Hostel and Backpackers Pub, in between the Old Town and the train- and busstation. And although you can not stay there, it sure makes for a great photo to show at home!
Still in operation after almost a hundred years, Burg Altena is the site of the world's first youth hostel. It was in 1912 that Richard Schirrmann created the hostel inside this castle. The old rooms can still be seen. New rooms in the castle are part of the present-day hostel. The castle itself dates back to the 12th century.
The Hostelboat Anna Maria II in Amsterdam is probably one of the quirkiest hostels in the Netherlands, if not Europe. If you like something different, this is the place you want to spend the night before or after hitting all the highlights of the Dutch capital. The 10 cabins sell out pretty quickly during the summer season so book well before when you want to stay in this place, about 10 minutes walking from the central railway station near Waterloo Square.
Many travellers probably have flown a couple of times in a Boeing 747, but now is the chance to spend the night in one. The Jumbo Hostel near Stockholms Arlanda Airport (take the 3-minute free shuttle to get there from the airport) is the first and only hostel in the world located in a plane. There are options for more expensive rooms as well, and is advertised as being an upmarket hostel in the first place. Still, the value and experience are great and there is even a special room in the cockpit!
Located in Baixa (Old Town), Lisbon, the Travellers House is officially the world's best hostel according to the annual Hostelworld list. It's not only its location, close to all the main attractions of Portugal's capital, but also the friendly staff, cleanliness and many free amenities that makes this place a favorite amongst travellers. The top 10 of hostels in the world (2010) are all in Europe, five of them being in Lisbon including the whole top 3. The numbers 2 and 3 are the Rossio Hostel and the Living Lounge Hostel.
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Most hostels tend to be in normal buildings, but like options to spend the night in a houseboat or plane, you can also spend the night as a prisoner (well, sort of) in the Ottawa Jail Hostel. This hostel is located in a prime downtown location in Ottawa, the capital of Canada. The building has been in operation as a jail for over 100 years, before closing as such in 1972. Much of the building has been left as it was, just adding to the creepy experience. That said, all the amenities and travellers you will find elsewhere are available as well. Of course, it also comes with (rumours of) ghosts, spirits, slamming doors and voices. But you be your own judge and give this place a chance if you dare!
If 24-hour fun is what you are after, then the Milhouse Hostel is the place of choice in Buenos Aires. There are organised events every day and night of the week including salsa and tango lessons. It is housed in a group of 19th-century houses, surrounding a colonial-style atrium.
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