Favorite Hostels

Yes, I've finally compiled a list of my favorite hostels around the world. This lists includes mountain top bungalows, organic farms in Colombia, and river hostels with amazing sunrises.

I love making hostels my first stop, even when traveling on a romantic trip with Ryan. Staying at hostels allows us to easily connect with other travelers to get tips and tricks for the rest of our journey.

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HOSTELS

1. Casa Elemento, Colombia

Hostel World Link: Casa Elemento

2. Brisa Tranquila, Colombia

Hostel World Link: Brisa Tranquila

 

3. Guatape, Colombia

Hostel World Link: Casa Kayam

3. Kampot, Cambodia

TripAdvisor Link: https: Arcadia Backpackers Kampot

Tips for Staying at a Hostel: 

  • Nervous about Hostels? I get it! there was that creepy movie and most of us haven't shared a room with strangers since summer camp. I was SO reluctant the first time I stayed in a dorm room. BUT HONESTLY, it is amazing! You get to meet people from all over the world and connect with people on such a deeper level. Some hostels are more social than others (read reviews), but sometimes you can make plans with your dorm mates to grab a coffee, go on a tour, or grab a drink.

    If you are still nervous to stay in a dorm, they usually offer private rooms. Either way, hostels generally have great common areas to easily chat with fellow travelers.

  • Read Reviews! - Every hostel has a unique personality. Some are very lively "party" hostels, some are more reserved and clean "boutique" style hostels, some are rustic "eco" style hostels. Whatever it is, do some research in the reviews section. If you are just arriving to an area maybe you want to stay at the lively party hostel, but if you are just getting back from a long trek maybe you want a little more luxury. Note: While "party hostels can be fun for a night, beware if you want to get some sleep. They can be really hard to pass out (even with earplugs!).

 

Most Relaxing AirBnb's

If you know me, you know I love AirBnb's. Seriously, I not only use AirBnbs for accommodation, I use it to research new destinations, meet people, and better connect with the culture when I travel. Over the past few years, I've stayed at over 19 AirBnb's and see no end in sight!


1. Glamping in Topanga, CA

Ok, I'll start with one of my absolute favorites! Coined "Totem Terrace" - this beautiful abode lies in the hills of Topanga, California. Topanga is known for its majestic mountains, beaches, and eclectic hippy culture. Just 15-20mins north of Santa Monica and you are in a true paradise! 

Tips: Ask the host for the dirctions to a secret hiking trail that is unbelievable at sunset. 

Notes: This has a "glamping" type feel so if you come during the winter months bring extra jackets. Also, the toilet is a compost so a little different, but for me, it was all part of the experience! 

Airbnb Listing: The Totem Terrace

*Bonus* - Check out the other listings on Lydia's incredible property

I also got to do a cute little couples session here with The Travallure and Roman! 

2. Zen Retreat in Malibu

I can't say enough good things about this place. It truly has a magical vibrance to the land. Not to mention Hollie and and Bryan go out of their way to make you feel at home while allowing you enough privacy to completely relax. 

Tips: You must try the restaurant down the street, The Old Place. It has such a cosy feel, lively vibe, and delicious food! 

Airbnb Listing: Romantic Rustic Cottage in Malibu

3. Road Trip to Mystic Hot Springs

Almost directly between Colorado and California, Mystic Hot Springs in Utah is an incredibly relaxing stop on your way to the Pacific. I am a sucker for more natural style hot springs (rather than pools) and Mystic Hot Springs is exactly that. The natural spring water drips down the mountain into rustic bathtubs that look over the mountains and valley. What more could you ask for?!

Tips: Wake up at sunrise for some perfect light.

Notes: The busses were a little on the rustic side, but had everything we needed to stay warm on our stop over. If you are looking for something more romantic I would look into booking their cabin options. 

Airbnb Listing: Gypsy Wagon at Mystic Hot Spring

4. Pure Nature in Packwood, Washington

While I love the teepee style and cosy fire place at this listing, this one is mainly on here because of it's access to nature, trails, and the cute town of Packwood, WA. 

Tips: Check out this amazing hike, Silver Falls Loop.

Notes: The Airbnb is a little close to the owners home which makes it feel a bit less "secluded". However, after a long hike we just needed a warm fire place, nice shower, and comfy bed and we were happy! 

Airbnb Listing: Coal Creek A-Frame Cabin

How to BOOK your first Airbnb

  1. READ REVIEWS - Yes, do a bit of digging in the reviews section. Sometimes the reviews might reveal that the place is a little too "rustic" or that there are loud birds near by. You also might learn that the hosts are awesome, or that there is a cool coffee shop around the corner. After photos, reviews are my first stop to learn more about the property - good and bad.

  2. WARNING SIGNS - If you see a listing with little to no reviews, just know you are taking a bit of a gamble. This could mean the price is lower and you get to stay in an awesome place for cheaper or it could mean that there are issues that they are not showing in the photos. I've only done this a few times and never had a problem, but it is a little gamble!

  3. If you don't already have an account, use my referral code to get $40 off.

START EXPLORINg

Tulum

How to visit Tulum

Tulum is truly a dream. Imagine a long strip of white (no but like really white!) sand beachs with crystal clear blue water along the coast of a protected national park and you have Tulum! 

Well kinda...

I first visited Tulum 4 years ago in 2013. At that time I found Tulum by extensively searching "beach bungalows" -- Really any shack on the beach would have done, but then, ah ha!, I found Tulum.

Because the hotels (or bungalows) on the coast of Tulum are built on a national park they are mostly "required" to be eco-friendly meaning (the good ones) run off of solar power and wind energy. The quality eco-resorts only use electricity at night and do not generally have air conditioning. 

This is the Tulum I came to know and love -- a small, hippy beach town with semi-affordable, eco-friendly beach bungalows. What more could you ask for??

Cut to 2018.

While Tulum maintains its charm and overall bohemian aesthetic, there is something brewing under the surface and the more I explored the more I saw it. Long lines of traffic on the main beach road, a high end Mescal Bar opened by a hip Brooklyn Bar owner, tight leather pants and wide brimmed hats...in the middle of Mexico? 

Ryan and I even took a short walk along the beach to see the old bungalows we had stayed in a few years ago. We were dismayed to find posh style bungalows equipped with AC units in each room and a way too tan man in a tiny orange bikini bottom on his ipad. 

Yes, the hipster gentrification knows no bounds and is in full force in Tulum. If you never knew the old Tulum you may not notice, but the hike in prices and exclusive atmosphere is a little off putting for me.

With that said, there are still some amazing places left that not only have the quaint charm of the old Tulum, but more importantly, respect the environment.

As I would suggest with any destination, do your research and support places that are are doing their part for the community and environment.

MY SUGGESTIONS

Where to stayDiamante K (featured below) - The first of 8 hotels on the Tulum coast, Diamante still maintains its commitment to an eco-friendly resort, has its own private beach, and an unbeatable atmosphere. We also stayed at Hostel Che Babel which is a great spot to meet people and party! 

What to do: Beach all day and dinner in town is a perfect day for me. The town of Tulum (15mins from the beach) has whatever culture is left of the town. You can find fresh, hand made quesadillas, live music, and damn good drinks -- all at non-crazy hipster prices. This is also where the backpacker scene is, so if you want to meet people and bailar, do it here!

Where to eat: Ok, ok..I guess doing at least one nice dinner on the beach is worth it, but be ready for long lines and high prices. If you get there early it is beautiful! We ate at a Charly's Vegan Tacos, but just pick anything you want along the coast and you can't go wrong.