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:
Green Tortoise Hostel is a perfectly located cute little hostel to meet people and have fun and enjoy local areas in San Francisco. It is 20 minutes walk from the beach and located in the lively North Beach Little Italy district. This San Francisco hostel is just 3 minutes’ walk to the renowned City Lights Bookstore and the entertainment district and you can easily reach a lot of attractions. Free WiFi is provided. They have a 24 hour checkin in which is nice and gives you some flexibility.
Breakfast is simple but delicious. It offered guests bagels, yogurt, oats, and eggs, but also has a full kitchen for everyone to cook for themselves. The staff is really friendly, and the spaces are clean and comfortable.
The common area on the second floor is enormous and a great place to eat, work or invite friends over to hang out!
If you travel alone, this is a good place to stay and explore San Francisco.
HI San Francisco Downtown Hostel is centrally located in San Francisco just 5 minutes walk from shopping and dining in Union Square and it is very close to all sorts of public transit. The hostel is close to everything you need, transport, restaurants, pharmacy, supermarket and bars.
The hostel has very spacious rooms and nice common and hang-out areas, beautifully decorated. The kitchen is fully equipped and you have free coffee and water the whole day. The reception is available 24h and the access to the hostel is only made by a card which increases the security.
Rooms are big and spacious with comfortable beds and plenty of plugs which is helpful if you have a few electrical items that need to charge. We really liked the full length mirror and the overall aesthetic and friendly atmosphere of the hostel.
We would definitely stay here again because it is very good value for money.
HI Los Angeles – Santa Monica Hostel is the best spot for an affordable stay close to California’s most famous beaches. It’s literally a five-minute walk to the Santa Monica Pier, offering plenty of things to do around the neighbourhood. Also, this hostel is central to all Los Angeles bus lines offering easy access to city tours, movie star’s homes, shopping, Disneyland, Disney’s California Adventure, Universal Studios, Hollywood, Magic Mountain, Knott’s Berry Farm, and the world class Getty Center Museum and the Getty Villa Museum, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean.
Besides good location, nice courtyard and friendly staff, the mattresses in the dorms are really comfortable. The rooms are clean with big lockers. Definitely check out their outdoor sofa space in the evenings with good vibes!
Security system is very good as well and they have a place to keep luggage until a certain time when you check out.
Samesun Ocean Beach is located in San Diego, 300 m from Ocean Beach and provides air-conditioned rooms and a shared lounge. This place is a jewel to find in Ocean Beach.
The rooms are clean and comfortable and there is a light and USB port on every bed. Bathrooms are very clean and organized and they provide you a towel as well which is handy for the shower. They have some toiletry items available in the bathroom to use too if you don’t have any.
The public, shared kitchen is like being at home. Waffles, oatmeal and fresh fruit for breakfast. Coffee in the morning is great. We worked our 9-5 in the common area connected with their wi-fi. It is also very safe and quiet at night time.
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.
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 Waterman get past your radar.
FYI: This accommodation used to be called The Wayfarer.
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.
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!
Of course, there are always cheap hostels. But how do you actually find them? When you are traveling on a shoe-string budget and you want to save every dollar, there are ways to find the cheapest places in California.
Open Hostelz.com with a full list of all hostels in California
add your dates
Order the listings by price
Simple as that.
Hostelz.com is a price comparison site for hostels. They list every single one in the world and tells you exactly which website is cheaper to use.
Another smart Tip: Check what is actually included, and what is excluded. Take a closer look at the location, too. A further location might mean more costs in transport.
We recommend booking your hostel as early as possible! All of California best hostels are popular; especially in high-season. To make sure you end up in those stylish and good hostels, secure your room/ bed as soon as you have your travel dates fix.
The coolest Hostel App you need comes as well from Hostelworld. It gives you super cool features like you can contact your hostel mates beforehand and make plans together. Find more details in our review of the app
Scan the QR Code with your Smartphone to download the Hostelworld App from the App Store - like a real Hostel Geek!
Alright, you should have found your accommodation already. Below we list all the frequently asked questions. Have a look.
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?
Generally 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.
More Guides to USA Hostels
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.