Take everything you think you know about hostels and throw it all out: Ukelele Hostel is a classy joint with a reputation to match. Think exposed brick walls, plush sofas and a piano – not to mention a coveted swimming pool in the sunny courtyard. This tranquil travelers’ favourite has a 24-hour kitchen, a cheery dining room and, of course, free WiFi. The bunk rooms are strewn with vintage travel memorabilia and there are plenty of cubby holes for curling up and getting stuck into that holiday book. Free lockers, a generous breakfast and multi-lingual staff make a bed at around US$20 per night a steal.
Dorm beds from US$14
Private rooms from US$40
Ukelele Hostel, Maldonado 1183,Barrio Sur, Montevideo, Uruguay, +598 2902 7844
Sitting proudly at the edge of Montevideo’s old town, the Art Nouveau Hotel Palacio is legendary for its European flair, grace and elegance. Treat yourself to a stay for around US$40 per night – try to snag one of the top-floor rooms for the prettiest view of the rooftops and harbour of Ciudad Vieja. Close to Mercado Puerto and just a stone’s throw from Museo Andes 1972, it’s the perfect spot to pitch up and explore. The old-timey elevator, parquet floors and quaint furniture in this quintessentially turn-of-the-century guesthouse will have you feeling like you’ve stepped back in time to the Belle Époque.
Single rooms from $40
Superior double rooms from US$45
Hotel Palacio, Bartolomé Mitre 1364, Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo, Uruguay, +598 2916 3612
Taking its inspiration from the hanging gardens of Babylon, this green hostel smack bang in the center of Ciudad Vieja is a chilled spot for recharging your batteries. Run by husband and wife team Ronel and Sonja Blignaut, who originally hail from South Africa, Hostel Biblonia nurtures a warm family atmosphere (with an adorable puppy to play with). A games table, reading retreat and rustic kitchen are perfect for whiling away an hour or two on rainy days. US$20 will buy you a cosy bunk, continental breakfast and the chance to try your hand at a traditional asado – a wood-fired barbecue tucked into a corner of the colorful garden.
Dorm beds from US$20
Private rooms from US$50
Hostel Babilonia, Sarandí 310, Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo, Uruguay, +598 2916 3426
Just ten minutes’ walk from the beach and pretty Parque Rodó, Blanes Hostel is a bright and airy landing pad for weary travellers. Breakfast is included, as well as linens, WiFi and city maps, for around US$19 per night. There’s a mural-covered patio, comfy TV room and plenty of places to lock up your bike after an invigorating cycle along the Rambla. Modern art and edgy furniture juxtapose with high ceilings and stained glass – a nod to the building’s colonial heritage. After dark, wander just a few blocks south to stumble upon Montevideo’s most characterful late-night haunts. Just ask at the friendly reception for recommendations on where to stay out until dawn.
Dorm beds from US$17
Blanes Hostel, Juan Manuel Blanes 1335, Cordon, Montevideo, Uruguay, +598 2401 8223
One of several dotted around South America, El Viajero is a classic party hostel with a backpacker vibe. Just off main high street Avenida 18 de Julio, this renovated period building boasts a well-equipped kitchen, 24-hour reception, air con and even a mini supermarket. Dorms are social, snug and spacious, around US$17 per night, and there are several private rooms with en-suite bathrooms if you’re after your own space. A great spot for groups, the chequered terrace is packed with tables and even has its own bar and live music on balmy evenings.
Dorm beds from US$16
Private rooms from US$27
El Viajero, Soriano 1073, Centro, Montevideo, Uruguay, +598 2908 2913