At the starting point of the well-worn backpacker trail that stretches all the way up Australia’s East Coast to tropical North Queensland, Melbourne is a must-visit destination for budget travellers. And with a crop of top-rated hostels sprinkled around the city, backpackers don’t have to sacrifice comfort to stretch their savings. From party places to converted convents, here is our pick of the best hostels in Melbourne.
Australia’s largest hostel network transformed the five-storey Markillie’s Hotel in 2009, retaining its century-old neo-Baroque facade but adding 208 beds across an array of modern dorms, twin and double shares, along with exclusive rooftop private rooms. Sitting near the intersection of Flinders and Spencer, between Southern Cross station and the Yarra River, this hostel offers a travel desk to book tours, a comfy lounge, a fully-equipped kitchen with free rice and pasta, heating in winter and air con in summer, and a rooftop terrace with a barbecue, sunloungers and lofty skyline views.
No Melbourne hostel earns reviews quite as impressive as United Backpackers, an über-contemporary property directly opposite Flinders Street Station. The personality of Melbourne’s graffiti-lined laneways infuses the halls that link United’s sleek dorms and private rooms. The unbeatable address, buzzing atmosphere, cosy chill-out spaces with beanbags galore, city tours every morning, free pancake breakfast in the huge kitchen and nightly events in the Lost & Found basement bar are other highlights.
Party animals, look no further. Base’s crowded calendar of events is what makes this place tick, especially at the pumping Red Eye Bar – check out Big Willy’s boozy bingo, Wings and Sings night, Fat Friday DJs, Sunday Funday beer pong… the list goes on. Occupying a purpose-built bright red building just a stroll from Acland Street, the Esplanade and Luna Park in the beachside borough of St Kilda, Base features state-of-the-art amenities, free pancakes for breakfast, a travel guru to book tours and a range of mixed and female-only dorms plus privates with their own balconies.
A three-storey Georgian home built in 1888, the Nunnery housed the Daughters of Charity for 60 years before welcoming a slightly rowdier group of people – backpackers – through its doors in more recent times. The three- to 12-bed dorms are simple but exude 19th-century charm. The well-worn floorboards, eclectic decor, grand staircase, stained-glass windows and quirky religious artworks remind guests of the building’s former life. Perched on the northeast corner of Carlton Gardens amid the cafes, bars and boutiques that make Fitzroy Melbourne’s hipster hub, the Nunnery’s centrepiece is a leafy courtyard to hang out in.
Space Hotel shows off some of Melbourne’s most luxurious budget beds – the dorms all include personal reading lights, power points and partitions between bunks, while the private rooms boast LCD TVs, desks, wardrobes and bar fridges – as well as there being an onsite bar and restaurant, gym, game room, cinema and rooftop retreat kitted out with a jacuzzi. This backpacker hotel is also ringed by some of Melbourne’s top attractions, including Queen Victoria Market to the west, Chinatown to the south, Carlton Gardens’ Royal Exhibition Building to the east, thanks to an enviable Russell Street address on the northern edge of the city centre.
Welcome to Melbourne’s very first carbon-neutral hostel. Habitat HQ offsets all its emissions, composts all food waste, uses no plastic bottles and maintains its own beehives. This property is as good for backpackers as it is for Mother Nature, with colourful dorms and private rooms, a courtyard bar, a herb garden, gleaming bathrooms, a fireplace, free tea and coffee all day in the kitchen and a convenient St Kilda Road location, a 20-minute tram ride from the middle of the city.
Not far from the Queen Victoria Market, in a quiet corner of North Melbourne, this hostel is perfect for backpackers wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre or the party scene of St Kilda. This hostel delivers all the top-drawer amenities YHA is renowned for – a quality kitchen, launderette, lounge, dining room, cinema and super-knowledgeable staff – as well as a few glam touches like the rooftop terrace with panoramic city views, wine-and-cheese movie nights, plus weekly yoga, body combat and Zumba classes.
This former Salvation Army training college looks more like a castle than a hostel, but Home at the Mansion has welcomed backpackers through its doors since 2010. Situated just north of Victoria’s Parliament House on the eastern edge of the city, this ornate structure contains a selection of great-value four-, five-, six- and seven-bed dorms plus double-bed privates, as well as a sun-drenched courtyard, DVDs and a PlayStation, free tea and coffee and the bubbly Victoria’s Secret cafe-bar.
This is an updated version of a story created by Monique La Terra.