19 Best Hostels in California, USA
Photo by Jake Blucker

19 Best Hostels in California, USA – Making your California Dreams Come True

Keen to put on your backpack and discover the absolute best hostels in California? You’ve landed on the right guide in that case!

We decided to explore the major destinations in California and collect the coolest hostels worth a visit. From San Francisco in the North, to hostels in Southern California in hot destinations like Los Angeles – this guide has you covered.

From California youth hostels, to epic stays by the beach and mountain lodges with a health spa. Excited?

This US western state follows the Pacific coast for nearly 900 miles.

Get ready to enjoy Sierra Nevada mountains, palm-lined beaches and the home of Hollywood entertainment.

In this guide we take a look at California hostels in:

Interesting fact: Due to the hotel lobby cracking down on hostels, dorm sizes are kept small in some cities with usually a maximum of 4 people per room.

What about 5 star hostels? Whilst there aren’t any (yet) in California, check out:

Discover all of the 45 best hostels in USA.

Furthermore, we share with you our ultimate hostel packing list to prepare you before you go.

Here’s a handy map showing the location of all the hostels mentioned in this guide.

Best Hostels in San Francisco

When it comes to hostels in Northern California, San Francisco is a great city and well worth visiting. The hostel world here is top notch.

San Francisco best hostels include an option to sleep right by the bay.

Don’t take out word for it, check out:

  1. Adelaide Hostel
  2. HI Sand Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf Hostel
  3. Pacific Tradewinds Hostel

Read: A full guide to the best hostels in San Francisco + safety tips & best areas to stay.

1. Adelaide Hostel (San Francisco)

Tucked away at the end of an alley, just 2 blocks from bustling Union Square, is Adelaide Hostel. It’s best described as a cozy, colourful haven for weary world travellers.

This is easily the best hostel in San Francisco!

Suitable for groups (of upto 60), we also highly recommend this for solo female travellers. The female-only rooms rock!

Save money with a free breakfast & fully-equipped kitchen. Hideaway behind dorm privacy curtains, or relax in the big lounge area.

Psst: The lounge is where you’ll find a noticeboard highlighting all of the upcoming events.

Book Adelaide Hostel here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Adelaide Hostel one of the best hostels in San Francisco

Adelaide Hostel one of the best hostels in San Francisco
Adelaide Hostel

2. HI San Francisco – Fisherman’s Wharf (San Francisco)

HI San Francisco – Fisherman’s Wharf is located right on the waterfront, can you get much better than that?!

Well, yes actually because it doesn’t stop there: On the other side of the property there’s a National Park! And! The Golden Gate Bridge & Alcatraz can be seen just outside the hostel.

It’s a social hostel offering lots of free activities, including:

  • Walking tours
  • Pub crawls
  • Museum visits

Otherwise, hang out at the hostel and make the most of the onsite Cafe Franco, sundeck, kitchen and cinema room.

Breakfast is free, and then throughout the day there is home-made, organic food on offer, plus delicious coffee.

San Francisco downtown can easily be enjoyed when staying here.

Book HI San Fran Fisherman’s Wharf here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

HI San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf one of the best hostels in San Francisco

3. Pacific Tradewinds Hostel (San Francisco)

For the budget conscious traveller we recommend Pacific Tradewinds Hostel. This is one of those noteworthy backpacker hostels in California.

It’s a small place, with an attitude that: “there are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t met!

Free stuff awaits you! From free-flowing tea & coffee to movie nights and ramen noodles & peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Cute.

You’ll likely want to join in the taco Tuesdays and Motown Mondays for +21yrs.

Please be aware that there are only dorm rooms available here, all of which come with 8 beds.

This is the closest we could find to the cheapest hostel in California.

Book Pacific Tradewinds Hostel here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Pacific Tradewinds hostel dorm in San Franscisco, USA

Best Hostels in Los Angeles

Ok so lets swiftly move on to hostels in Southern California in the famous city of Los Angeles. We know you’re dying to get that all important Hollywood sign selfie and explore nearby Santa Monica!

This region of the state is home to Los Angeles hostels offering a rooftop swimming pool and awesome co-working spaces digital nomads thought only existed in their dreams.

It didn’t make sense to only include 3 hostels here, not when there are many good ones to choose from.

Come on then, let’s dive in:

  1. PodShare Venice
  2. Freehand Los Angeles
  3. The Steady Hostel
  4. Banana Bungalow Hollywood (party)
  5. Orange Drive Hostel
  6. Samesun Venice Beach Hostel
  7. Walk of Fame Hollywood Hostel

Read our detailed guide to the best hostels in LA with even more LA hostels you’ve to know!

Good to know: Unfortunately, USA Hostels Hollywood chain permanently closed its doors in 2019.

1. PodShare Venice (Venice Beach)

PodShare Venice offers a unique membership-based live/work community. Buy a pass for one PodShare location in the city, and get access to the other 4 during your stay. Super cool!

It offers a perfect blend of private pod space and social networking. Obviously perfect for a digital nomad!

Each custom built pod comes with a personal flat screen TV (Netflix included), reading light & under-bed storage.

Enjoy also a free continental breakfast, access to co-working tables, free Wifi and bicycles.

It also happens to be a short walk from Venice Beach. There’s a big, beautiful garden to hang out in, too.

Book PodShare Venice here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Podshare Venice one of the best hostels in Los Angeles, USA
Podshare Venice

Podshare Venice one of the best hostels in Los Angeles, USA

2. Freehand Los Angeles (Downtown L.A)

Prepare to have your little socks blown off by the rooftop swimming pool at Freehand Los Angeles.

Whilst there are private rooms with a higher price tag available, we recommend staying in one of the flash shared dorms. They all come with an ensuite, towel and linen, after all!

From the rooftop you can enjoy 360-degree views of downtown L.A. There’s also a 24/7 fitness centre onsite.

Every week there are events being held for your entertainment. Think DJ sets and jazz nights. See you there.

Book Freehand Los Angeles here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Freehand Los Angeles one of the best hostels in Los Angeles, USA
Freehand Los Angeles

3. The Steady Hostel (Hollywood)

What makes The Steady Hostel stand out? Easily the friendly and helpful staff.

It offers a simple design on a budget, without jeopardising those all important home-away-from-home comforts.

It’s a great choice for families on the move, with a deluxe family room sleeping 10 people. The private double is also spacious and bright.

For an extra charge you can join an arranged pub crawl and hiking trips in the area. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is just 5km away.

Note: The Steady closed for 2 weeks in November 2020 to carry out property renovations.

Book The Steady Hostel here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com

Tropic Hollywood one of the best hostels in Los Angeles, USA

4. Party Hostel: Banana Bungalow Hollywood

You’ve just happened to stumble across the best party hostel in Los Angeles: Banana Bungalow West Hollywood.

Bouncy vibes, lovely staff and…

  • Pub crawls
  • Themed parties
  • Party bus limo rides
  • Hiking & beach tours

Await you lively, fun-seeking traveller!

Cure your hangover with a free breakfast, and prepare for the next night by relaxing in the Tiki garden under a palm tree.

Nearby Cahuenga Corridor hosts over 28 bars & nightclubs, so the party opportunities are endless if you stay here.

Book Banana Bungalow here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Banana Bungalow one of the best party hostels in Los Angeles, USA

5. Orange Drive Hostel (Hollywood)

Orange Drive Hostel easily has the best location in Hollywood, just 4-minutes from the Hollywood Walk of Fame by foot!

Even though it’s just steps away from the Hollywood action, it’s still a relaxing atmosphere and perfect environment to rest.

Here are just a few of the inclusions:

  • Free all-you-can-eat waffles, pancakes, oatmeal, coffee etc for breakfast
  • Patio BBQ
  • Common room w/HD flatscreen TV & movies
  • Discounted pub crawl with LA Epic Club Crawl
  • Dorms, private & group rooms

Cool: This building was once a boarding house for Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth.

Book Orange Drive Hostel here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Orange Drive Hostel

6. Samesun Venice Beach Hostel (Hollywood)

The Samseun Venice Beach Hostel team couldn’t say it better:

“This is Venice Beach, guys! So you are going to need somewhere suitably eclectic and energetic to stay if you are going to experience it right. This is that place.”

There are 3 main reasons you should stay here…

  1. It’s located directly on the world famous Venice Beach Boardwalk
  2. They offer limo parties to Hollywood clubs
  3. Many of the rooms have partial/full ocean views

With weekly activities and a beautifully renovated lounge to hang out in, we’re not sure what else you need.

Book Samesun Venice Beach here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Samesun Venice Beach Hostel (Hollywood)

Samesun Venice Beach Hostel (Hollywood)

7. Walk of Fame Hollywood Hostel

If you want to be slap bang in the middle of Hollywood, with easy access to the Hollywood sign and nightly socials at an on-site bar, book your stay with Walk of Fame Hostel.

When you’re indoors, enjoy a game of pool or grab a snack from the vending machine. Otherwise, take advantage of the awesome location on Hollywood Boulevard.

Couples will really enjoy the private rooms. They come with a queen-sized bed, mini fridge and TV.

Book Walk of Fame Hostel here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Walk of Fame Hostel is one of the best hostels in USA, North America

Best Hostels in San Diego

You’re likely heading to San Diego to enjoy the warm climate, beaches and renowned San Diego Zoo. All you need now is an awesome hostel to top it off.

How about sleeping minutes from the beach?

We recommend:

  1. California Dreams Hostel
  2. ITH CoLive Balboa Park
  3. HI San Diego Downtown Hostel

Find all of the best hostels in San Diego here, including a fun party hostel.

1. California Dreams Hostel (San Diego)

California Dreams Hostel prides itself in helping to create a memorable stay for adventurous backpackers. Love surfing? Stay here!

The locals’ favourite surf spot is an easy 100 metre walk, and you can schedule surf lessons at reception.

For the outdoorsy amongst you, join in local market trips, bike tours and beach volleyball.

If you prefer to relax, make use of the board games and spacious common lounge. There are often movie nights, too!

Oh yeah, and dorm beds come with privacy curtains – something we know you value. And! Breakfast is free. Wonderful.

Book California Dreams Hostel here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

California Dreams Hostel is one of the best hostels in San Diego, USA
California Dreams Hostel

2. ITH CoLive Balboa Park (San Diego)

At ITH CoLive Balboa Park you’ll likely find mainly young professionals, backpackers and students enjoying this quiet, local and affordable hostel.

The highlight has to be nightly community gatherings to share food. Free weekly events also support getting to know new people easily.

Other perks include:

  • Library w/private work stations
  • Garden & outdoor patio
  • Fully-equipped kitchen
  • Free flowing tea & coffee
Book ITH CoLive Balboa Park here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

ITH CoLive Balboa Park Hostel is one of the best hostels in San Diego, USA

3. HI San Diego Downtown Hostel

Before you do anything, drop your bags and have a go on the reception swings at HI San Diego Downtown Hostel!

Alongside the games room, old-school arcade games and surrounding nightlife, this makes for a pretty cool and fun hostel.

Staff will spoil you with a free breakfast and great local tours and trips. How does a jam session in San Diego’s hip-hop community sound?

Room choices include both female and male-only dorm rooms. FYI, all rooms come with a private bathroom – winning!

Book HI San Diego Downtown here

Compare latest prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

HI San Diego Downtown Hostel is one of the best hostels in San Diego, USA
HI San Diego Downtown Hostel

Best Hostels in Sacramento: HI Sacramento Mansion Hostel

Sacramento is not only the capital of the U.S. state of California, but it has also been dubbed the most “hipster city”. Old Town Sacramento, located right by the river, is well worth a visit.

We only recommend staying at HI Sacramento Hostel.

It’s centrally located in a beautifully restored Victorian mansion and offers a LOT to keep you busy:

  • Daily activities (pub crawl, afternoon tea, dinner nights etc)
  • Outdoor patio
  • Games rooms
  • Hammocks on the front porch
  • Bicycle rentals

There are gender specific and mixed dorms, as well as private options. We just love the Victorian fireplaces and mahogany-railed staircases in the upstairs rooms.

Book HI Sacramento Hostel here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

HI Sacramento Hostel is one of the best hostels in California, USA HI Sacramento Hostel is one of the best hostels in California, USA

Best Hostels in South Lake Tahoe: Mellow Mountain Hostel

Most people head to South Lake Tahoe to experience the Sierra Nevada mountains. It offers a perfect mix of ski resorts and beaches, depending on what you fancy doing. There are also plenty of bars, restaurants and casinos to enjoy.

Whilst you’re in this resort city, consider staying at Mellow Mountain Hostel.

This 54 bed hostel is located in the middle of the city, offering two indoor communal areas and 2 outdoor recreation areas.

From here you will be…

  1. A 10 minute walk from Lake Tahoe’s best attractions
  2. 5 minute walk from Heavenly Gondola for skiing
  3. Short walk from the beach & water activities

The staff team here is super friendly and will make you feel at home in an instant. They are also at hand 24/7 and always excited to welcome new guests to their home.

Book Mellow Mountain Hostel here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Hostelworld

Mellow Mountain Hostel is one of the best hostels in California, USA

Best Hostels in Yosemite: Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort

Situated on a forested 5-acre hillside complex, Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort is 27 miles (around an hour drive) from Yosemite Valley.

This is great option if you’d like to be close to Yosemite, with all of the expected activities of staying in the mountains.

For example, you can still enjoy great swimming holes, whitewater rafting in the nearby Merced River Wild & Scenic area.

We’d recommend renting a car so that you can really make the most of the surrounding natural beauty.

What else?

  • Onsite restaurant (from steaks to vegan options)
  • Health spa (hot tub, hot rocks sauna, ymore ofoga studio)
  • Massage Therapies
  • Disabled rooms

Every type of room imaginable is available here. From family studios and deluxe bungalows, to affordable tent accommodation and shared dorms.

Book Yosemite Bug Rustic Resort here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort is one of the best hostels in California, USA Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort is one of the best hostels in California, USA

Best Hostels in Santa Barbara: The Wayfarer

The dramatic backdrop of Santa Ynez Mountains coupled with red-tile roofed buildings make Santa Barbara a beautiful destination. The city’s Spanish colonial heritage is pretty evident… make sure you visit an award winning winery!

Whilst technically a hotel, we couldn’t let The Wayfarer get past your radar.

Seriously, have a look at that outdoor heated swimming pool!

This place has all the amenities of a hostel, with more of a focus on modern & fancy private rooms. Having said that, the mixed dorms are impressive, too.

To bring people together there is a community games room, shared kitchen & dining area, and a colourful library.

Also: There is a unique event space for up to 100 guests.

This is certainly one of those USA hotels you do not want to miss.

Book The Wayfarer here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

The Wayfarer is one of the best hostels in California, USA The Wayfarer is one of the best hostels in California, USA

Best Hostels in Santa Cruz: HI – Santa Cruz Hostel

Santa Cruz is home to some pretty cool vintage rides such as the 1911 Looff Carousel and Giant Dipper roller coaster. You can also wander around endless vintage clothing stores, galleries and shops. Don’t miss Natural Bridges State Beach!

Where to stay? That’s easy: HI – Santa Cruz Hostel.

It’s located on a street lined with Victorian houses and happens to be just steps away from the beach and boardwalk.

There’s a reason this hostel continuously receives high ratings.

It could be due to the awesome staff, great vibes, perfect location or weekly hostel activities. Or perhaps it’s the cheap parking and group outings.

Bonus: The dorm rooms come with 2 beds, keeping it intimate and peaceful.

Book HI – Santa Cruz Hostel here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

HI Santa Cruz Hostel is one of the best hostels in California, USA HI Santa Cruz Hostel is one of the best hostels in California, USA

Best Hostels in Point Reyes Station: HI Point Reyes

Tucked away in the Point Reyes National Seashore, HI Point Reyes is the only hostel within the park. It’s perfect if you want to escape civilisation!

Head here if you love to hike, immerse in nature and relax on the beach.

Digital detox: There is NO Wifi or cell phone service at this part of the park.

Instead, you can enjoy the company of others outside on the patio, in the comfy park-view lounges and from the comfort of your Tempur-Pedic mattress.

Honestly, with so much wildlife around – bobcats, fox, deer, elk, sea lions, grey whales – why would you even want to stick your face in front of a screen?!

The nearby town of Point Reyes Station is famous for culinary treats and locally owned shops.

Book HI Point Reyes here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

HI Point Reyes is one of the best hostels in California, USA HI Point Reyes is one of the best hostels in California, USA

All Best Hostels in California on a Map

Below we have put ALL of the coolest hostels in California mentioned in this article on a map.

That’s because we want to make your planning as hassle free and straight forward as possible!

We’ve marked them as follows:

  • Backpacker-Type Hostel: Orange
  • Party Hostels: Pink
  • Design Hostels: Blue
  • Other recommendations: Purple

(View full sized map here)

Any Discounts?

Okay, now that is a bit embarrassing, currently, we have no special hostel discounts for hostels in California. We are always working on getting promo codes for great hostels in top destinations such as Los Angeles, San Francisco etc.

How about we do it like this: You subscribe to our newsletter and we send you over the new hostel discounts to your inbox.

Deal?

You can find all our hostel discounts worldwide here.

We also do have a 35€ discount for Airbnb here.

FAQ

Is living in a hostel safe?

The best hostels work hard to make sure that their accommodation is safe for the guests because there is a lot of human interaction among strangers. If safety of belongings is an issue, most hostels offer lockers. If personal safety is worrisome, private rooms are usually available.

How do I choose a hostel?

Always make sure you read the reviews first. Filter by best and worst reviews, they are good indicator on what to expect and what not. Check as well the location rating. You can always check with Hostelgeeks.com if a hostel is safe.

Are hostels in California safe?

Generically speaking, yes, hostels in California are safe. Always check reviews with websites like Hostelworld, Hostelz.com and Hostelgeeks.com. Always do a quick research on the hostel you are about to book.

Destination not Listed?

Besides the listed accommodation, we also put together the best hostels in the world; the 5 Star Hostels.

We stayed in a former winery in Santorini, in a former jail-now 5 Star Hostel and many more. And we share all of these unique budget accommodations with you.

Make sure you check out our guides “best hostels in“. Here we cover many more destinations.

Update: We now cover as well curated ‘3 best hostels’ guides to cities with no 5 Star Hostels such as Paris, Tokyo and Sydney.

Alongside the best hostels in California, we’ve been busy putting together epic guides for other major destinations in North America.

Make sure you read these guides if you’re keen on finding the best, most affordable hostels out there.

Don’t forget that we have an ultimate guide to the absolute best hostels in USA.

Summary

By now you should have the answer to your question where to stay in California. Which of the best hostels in the
California have you fallen in love with? Let us know!

This guide is your shortcut to your hostel-picks, saving you lots of time in your accommodation research.

And for sure, it gives you the security of a top-hostel choice without any bad surprises.

Any questions?

Then please please leave a comment below. We would be thrilled to hear from you and to help a fellow backpacker.

Have fun & Safe travels!

– – –

pin it now, read it later

A complete guide to the best hostels in California, USA for solo travellers and backpackers

Discounts for Hostels in California, USA

Would you like a promo code for any of the California, USA hostels mentioned? Of course you do. Since you are a Hostelgeeks reader and part of the community, you can get access to discounts and special promo codes.

You can find all our fresh and valid hostel promo codes here.

How about we let you know once we get fresh promo codes? Simply leave your email and subscribe here to our newsletter. It it easy, free and you save real money.

Hostel Discounts Promo Codes

Your Smart Packing List

It is time to see what you should pack in your backpack or suitcase. Make sure you always pick a quality hostel, it totally reduces the things you need to pack. Here is our ultimate hostel packing list. It features 23 items you should really throw in your backpack.

The most important things to pack are: Read the full packing list here. Download Hostel Packing List