Updated: Jan 13, 2019
Now I haven't stayed in every single hostel in every town, but these are the standout ones over my trip across South and Central America that definitely deserve a shoutout.
Disclaimer: some photos sourced from the hostels' websites or trip advisor/booking.com pages. All hostels linked in their title.
Best Bunk Beds:
Hostel Che, Holbox
Of course sleeping is the main reason we book hostels, so a comfortable bed is essential! The mattresses and pillows at Hostel Che Holbox were exceptionally comfortable and the biggest plus the bunks were extremely sturdy, I never felt anything from the person in the bunk above getting up or down! Plus the under bed lockers had heaps of space to put all your belongings so the room felt super tidy all the time.
The Yak Lake House, Balacar
This might seem like an odd category but these bathrooms definitely stood out among the rest, for cleanliness, ventilation and a hot shower with good pressure!
Zephyr Lodge, Lanquin
An infinity pool, in the middle of the Guatemalan jungle with a swim up bar. Enough said.
P.S. They also have a spa!
Best Common Area:
Selina Mexico City Downtown, Mexico City
Being one of the Selina hostels they have what they refer to as the "Playground", which is basically the restaurant, bar and chill out space. As with most Selina hostels they put a lot of effort into these spaces but Mexico City downtown was a standout with its plush vintage couches, and lots of power sockets for us digital nomads or phone addicts, with great touches like pretty fairy lights and plants galore, it was just a great place to sit and chill.
Best Free Breakfast:
Mr. Mullet's, San Pedro La Laguna
As it's often said, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially when you're travelling and doing activities every day! Its safe to say this was the best free hostel breakfast I ever had. Perfectly poached eggs made to order accompanied by avocado, tomatoes and toast. You could also choose to have the eggs fried or scrambled. Amongst other options such as pancakes, granola and english muffins all came with a complementary juice or coffee. For $11.50(US) a night this free breakfast is well worth it! I would also recommend adding a side of hash browns!
Best Paid Breakfast:
Tropicana Hostel, Antigua
Now as far as free breakfasts go as budget travellers we'll settle for just about anything, such as a slice of toast and piece of fruit - as long as its free. Yet as soon as we have to put our hard earned money into it we want the full monty. I present to you death by breakfast, almost. For around $12(NZ) you can get this ridiculous stack of toast, bacon, avocado, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce (which is few and far between in these countries). Hangover cure found!
Casa Angel Youth Hostel, Oaxaca
Whether you're on a tight budget, have dietary restrictions or are just craving something different many hostels now have kitchens so you can cook your own food. Casa Angel definitely had one of the top ones with lots of space and lots of utensils. However quite a few hostels had pretty good standards as well so some honourable mentions for best kitchen go to: Fulano, Bogota, Puerta Vieja, San Cristobal de las Casas and Nomadas Hostel, Merida.
Loki Hostel, La Paz
Serving simple and tasty food at extremely affordable prices, eating elsewhere just seems like an unnecessary effort. Loki's restaurant and bar on the top floor cater to everyones wants and needs with a wide variety of options, including dietary requirements. Nothing out of this world but with a stellar view of La Paz how can you resist?
Hostel Che, Tulum
Dinners aren't a huge thing at most hostels but they definitely are at Hostel Che! Almost every night they have an all you can eat dinner for very reasonable prices. Ranging from all you can eat BBQ, pizza and tacos, with lots of options they have something for everyone's tastes! Best tip is not to drink much, if any, beer before/during to avoid the dreaded food coma, make the most of the food and have a cocktail instead!
Best Party Hostel:
Milhouse Hostel Avenue & Hipo, Buenos Aires
Drum roll please! Yes after all that talk about food I'm sure you're keen to hear about the best party hostel! Milhouse Hostel(s) in Buenos Aires definitely takes the cake! So here's the thing I stayed at Avenue, the larger of the two locations (pictured first) but three out of the four nights I was there the party was at Hipo (pictured second). At Avenue I met my awesome friends in my dorm room but the party was definitely better at Hipo because it was slightly smaller, the one night the party was at Avenue it felt empty even though there were heaps of people there. Additionally every night they have a club suggestion which most people end up going to. Some nights they include package deals with transport and a drink at that club which was very handy. Also when they pour you drinks they really don't hold back, so chill out on the long island ice teas! All in all Milhouse is known as a party hostel and definitely lives up to that reputation!
N.B. don't stay at the one in Cusco it isn't the same.
Best Place to Meet Other Travellers:
Purple Monkey Hostel, Medellin
This rooftop terrace was a hub of social activity whether that was people having a few beers, playing cards, gearing up for the clubs or debriefing from the night before, there was always someone to talk to. Also when I stayed there at least 90% of people were solo travellers as well which was a huge plus for me because it made it that much easier to make friends because everyone had just met!
Best Happy Hour:
Mr. Mullet's, San Pedro La Laguna
Between 5 and 7pm the bar at Mr Mullet's serves up Cuba Libres (aka rum & coke w/ lime) for just 5Q which is around $1(NZ). Also beers are just 10Q ($2NZ) and mixed drinks 15Q ($3NZ) so you really have no excuse!
Best Value for Money
Mayan Monkey, Cancun
This modern hostel with pod style beds, privacy curtains, wristband access, a pool and bar, free breakfast and dinner all for a mere $7 USD per night for a dorm is a budget travellers dream. What more could you ask for?
Best Hostel Chain
If you haven't heard of Selina where have you been? The biggest hostel chain across South and Central America, currently with 30 locations and more in the works, Selina provides fantastic accomodation for both beach lovers and digital nomads alike. Clean beds, a restaurant and bar, co-working space, and sometimes a pool and movie room as well, you can often rely on Selina to be a good choice.