Hostels are no longer dicey, hole-in-the wall places to sleep for backpackers. These days the best hostels are community conscious and increasingly luxurious, offering comfortable digs and real insight into the culture of a country.
Today, savvy travellers want more for their money, and hostels are keeping up with demand by coming up with creative ways to enhance guest experiences. A budget bed doesn’t have to mean battling bed bugs and avoiding grimy shared bathrooms. More often than not, choosing the right hostel can provide the opportunity for a much deeper travel experience. If you are planning a trip to the Indian capital, check out these 10 hostels that should be at the top of your list.
This hostel lives up to its name – it’s a crazy, mad, fun place to hang out while visiting Delhi. Twice the recipient of Hostelworld’s Best Hostel in India Award (in 2016 and 2019), it’s aimed at independent travellers who want to connect with others and the local community. You’ll find it in one of the most upscale neighbourhoods in Delhi, with air-conditioned dorms, a games room, a library, a terrace, barbecue facilities, 24-hour security and a well-equipped kitchen. Meet other guests on tours like the Madpackers Sundowner, a sunset walk packed with street food and art through one of Delhi’s most eccentric neighbourhoods. Adventurous foodies, on the other hand, will love the Delhi Belly Crawl that takes you through the famous alleyways of Old Delhi, sampling plenty of traditional dishes along the way.
Conveniently situated just 7km (4.3mi) from the airport and 9km (5.6mi) from Qutub Minar, this bright, clean hostel has impressive, mural-heavy decor and a great à-la-carte continental breakfast. The rooftop garden restaurant is a relaxing place to mingle with other travellers, and solo female travellers can opt to stay on Pink Lane, the hostel’s dedicated women-only floor with its own private terrace. The friendly staff have plenty of local recommendations and can help with anything from booking tickets to renting motorbikes. All rooms, including dorms, have their own private bathrooms.
Delhi Tales wants to build a base for a fun travel community in the often overwhelming city of Delhi. Located in New Delhi, just under 4km (2.5mi) from Qutub Minar, its rooms overlook a beautiful garden, plus there is free Wi-Fi and each room has its own bathroom. It is within 10-13km (6.2-8mi) of other must-see places in Delhi, including the President’s Palace and the Tughlaqabad Fort, Humayun’s Tomb and India Gate, and its laid-back atmosphere and friendly staff will make you feel at home after a day exploring them.
Jugaad wants to show an alternative side to the Indian capital, and has won multiple awards for its efforts. If you’re looking to explore the city away from the tourist hotspots of Main Bazaar or Paharganj, Jugaad sits in a village-like suburb of South Delhi, within walking distance of Hauz Khas and just a 20-minute metro journey from attractions such as Qutub Minar and Humayun’s tomb and popular shopping districts like Sarojini Nagar and Dilli Haat. Its huge rooftop comes with peaceful views over the neighbourhood, where you can chat to other travellers around a bonfire in the evenings. There’s a kitchen so you can cook for yourself, but you should save a few meals for the hostel’s delicious food, too, before heading out on one of the walking tours or pub crawls.
Thanks to its proximity to Delhi International Airport, Best Bunk Beds Delhi provides an affordable and convenient budget bed for those transiting through the city or with an early flight the next day. It’s a simple hostel, but it’s clean and comfortable with curtained beds, a lounge with sofas and a kitchen, plus Delhi Aerocity Metro is a short walk away. There are plenty of supermarkets, bars and restaurants in the neighbourhood, but what really makes the hostel stand out is its friendly, personable staff who will go out of their way to make sure you have everything you need. You will need to pay cash on arrival.
As the name suggests, this hostel feels closer to a boutique hotel, especially in the private rooms, which have minimalist, of-the-moment decor with contemporary black and white furnishings. Located in Hauz Khas Village – the city’s artiest enclave – it also has a pretty deck that looks out onto Deer Park. It’s a great place to stay if you’re in town during major festivals as the hostel often organises its own events, and an even better place to stay if you’re eco-conscious since the hostel has recently become plastic-free.
Located in the central backpacker neighbourhood of Paharganj, the bright, mural-covered Zostel has eight-bed and six-bed dormitories, including one reserved exclusively for female guests. If you want privacy, then Zostel also offers a deluxe room with two single beds, plus there is an ultra-spacious designer suite for backpackers who want to treat themselves. It’s right in the heart of India’s busy capital so there’s plenty around to explore, plus you can sign up for a Zostel passport, a loyalty programme that will get you discounts across all Zostels and partner properties.
A real home away from home, Joey’s Hostel sets itself apart from others thanks to its friendly atmosphere and dedication to helping guests have an authentic experience in Delhi. Get involved with its tours around the city (the Heritage Walk takes you to the historic bylanes of Old Delhi while the Food Walk takes you on a fun street food tour of the capital), and take advantage of the free breakfast and purified water. There are also plenty of opportunities to meet other guests if you’re travelling solo. The extra-friendly staff are happy to help you plan your visit, book tickets and organise onward travel.
This hostel is located in bustling Old Delhi and offers its guests some unique experiences. Learn to cook delicious Indian breads and curries or explore less-discovered spots on a food tour around vibrant Chandni Chowk before relaxing in the evening at the hostel’s own cinema (don’t miss the weekly Bollywood movie night with free popcorn). The common area has plenty of games, including foosball and pool, and there’s an open-air courtyard where you can relax in a hammock with a book. Rooms are clean and comfortable and come with air conditioning and high-speed Wi-Fi.
AmigosIndia is a popular hostel choice for backpackers in the city. The place is very cosy and guests are made to feel like family. It has an in-house restaurant that serves some delicious food and a common area fondly referred to as the Amigo Station. The decor is quite vibrant and quirky but without going over the top. If you want to dine out while staying in the hostel, try the restaurants at Garden of Five Senses.