The Best Hostels for Backpackers to Book in India

The Hosteller McLeodganj is a comfortable Indian hostel near Dharamshala
The Hosteller McLeodganj is a comfortable Indian hostel near Dharamshala | Courtesy of The Hosteller McLeodganj / Expedia
Joe Bindloss

The Indian hostels experience has come a long way since the early days of backpacking. Modern hostels in India offer clean dorms, spotless bathrooms and buzzing shared spaces. The best hostels in India up the ante with courtyard gardens, rooftop terraces and even mountain views. And with pocket-friendly prices, you’ll have money spare for rickshaw rides and meals in India’s finest restaurants. Book your hostel in India with Culture Trip.

1. goSTOPS Mussoorie, for socialising over a board game

Hostel

A bed in a goSTOPS Mussoorie room, with two wooden chairs round a small wooden table beside it
Courtesy of goSTOPS Mussoorie/ Expedia

How many hostels have a terrace garden with plunging vistas of Himalayan hills? Just a stroll from Camel’s Back Road and Mussoorie Mall Road, goSTOPS is a hostel with a firm sense of fun. There’s a games room with giant ludo and carrom boards, a friendly lounge, and bright dorms and bedrooms full of geometric patterns in primary colours. The best bedrooms have balconies, and there are night-time fire-pit bonfires on the roof terrace.

2. Backpacker Panda Manali, for an atmospheric location

Hostel

One man sits in a light-filled communal area at Backpacker Panda Manali that contains various seating options and tables; a colourful painted mural is on the brick wall opposite him as international flags hang like bunting from the ceiling
Courtesy of Backpacker Panda Manali / Expedia

Manali was India’s original hippy hill station, but the hills are going upmarket and so is the Indian hostel scene. Backpacker Panda has a gorgeous location, where the town breaks down into pristine pine forests, and fun-filled shared spaces are filled with international flags and technicolour murals. Clean, wood-lined bedrooms and dorms – with four, six or eight beds – are lined along balconies with stunning forest views, and there’s a cheerful cafe. This is what backpacking ought to be like.

3. The Hosteller McLeodganj, for boutique-style digs

Hostel

The three-floor yellow exterior of the Hosteller McLeodganj
Courtesy of The Hosteller McLeodganj / Expedia

McLeod Ganj has been a fixture on the backpacker circuit since the Dalai Lama arrived in nearby Dharamshala in 1960. Today, visitors to this unmistakably Buddhist hill station can stay in one of the best hostels in India – a sparky space full of creative design that feels more like a boutique hotel than your average backpacker digs. The smartly decorated, fan-cooled bedrooms and dorms have big windows and valley views that get even more stupendous when you reach the rooftop conservatory and terrace.

4. Backpacker Panda Rishikesh, for hotel-like facilities

Hostel

The outdoor pool area of Backpacker Panda Rishikesh as viewed from a poolside seating area
Courtesy of Backpacker Panda Rishikesh / Expedia

The Panda chain does something different with all its properties, and their Rishikesh hostel feels more like a swanky hotel than a budget yoga retreat. Immaculate dorms have gleaming white bunk beds, big lockers and smart tiled bathrooms, while the wood-filled doubles, triples and quad rooms edge into boutique hotel territory. But it’s the other features that really wow – a yoga centre, vegan cafe, swimming pool and full-service spa. It’s backpacking updated for the millennial crowd.

5. Zostel Udaipur, for tranquil lake views

Hostel

A large bed in a Zostel Udaipur room, with window views towards mountains in the distance
Courtesy of Zostel Udaipur / Expedia
Udaipur features on almost every Rajasthan itinerary, but not everyone can afford a stay at the Taj Lake Palace. Fear not, as Udaipur’s Zostel serves up a similarly enticing package of sublime living spaces – a romantic roof terrace, a divan-filled games room – and Lake Pichola views, including from the dorms. Alongside those pocket-friendly, air-conditioned dorms, there are upmarket ensuite rooms done up in classic Rajasthani style. For a lake view on a budget, Zostel doesn’t put a foot wrong.

6. Zostel Delhi, for low-cost comfort in the capital

Hostel, Hotel

A small communal area at Zostel Delhi, with soft seating surrounding a TV and a descending staircase; cars can be seen through the window
Courtesy of Zostel, New Delhi

Drawing visitors from all over the world, Zostel Delhi has everything a backpacker needs: comfort, cleanliness and a lively vibe, all at a good price. It’s suitable for groups or solo travellers, as there are both air-conditioned dorms and private rooms – female-only dorms are also available. Laundry service, hot showers, private lockers, tea and coffee facilities, and free wifi are among the amenities. Plus, there’s a fully stocked kitchen and a lounge area, encouraging guests to mingle and have fun. Travel talks, social events and parties are the highlights of this place.

7. Moustache Jaipur, for a real feel of Rajasthan

Hostel, Hotel

A communal area at Moustache Jaipur, with a range of multicoloured and low soft seating
Courtsey of Moustache Jaipur

If you’re looking for authentic Rajasthani culture, Moustache fits the bill. Situated on action-packed Mirza Ismail Road and just a stone’s throw from Jaipur Junction railway station, this hostel exudes local character with its traditional patterns and furnishings. The rooms are spick and span with comfortable beds, and there’s also a kitchen, free wifi and three common spaces. An added bonus is the spectacular view of Nahargarh Fort from the rooftop.

8. Jungle, for a calmer stay in Goa

Hostel

Two thin mattresses rest on a wooden floor in a Jungle hostel room in Goa; greenery fills the views through the nearby doors
Courtesy of JUNGLE by thehostelcrowd / Expedia

If you want to be sociable yet removed from the bustle of Goa’s most popular spots, this hostel is perfect. Set amid quiet jungle but just a stone’s throw from lively Vagator beach, Chapora Fort and other beautiful attractions, it offers the best of both worlds. There’s a community vibe here, with lots of recreational facilities, including barbecues, yoga sessions and rooftop movie nights. The private rooms and air-conditioned dorms come with hot water, free wifi, personal lockers and free breakfast. There’s also an in-house cafe that serves organic Indian teas and coffees.

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