Staying at a hostel can sometimes feel like a roll of the dice. Get lucky, and you’re lounging poolside with free drinks (no, really), crap out and you’re swatting flies and sleeping on a pillow made out of sand.
In my travels, I remember once finding the “luxury cot" I booked online was actually a hammock strung above rotting produce. Since then, I’ve stayed at over 150 hostels across the globe, and now even own my own top-rated hostel in Austin, TX. And after thousands of nights spent in them, I’ve seen enough to know the good, the bad, and the ugly.
While the hostel scene in the US is still in its infancy (300 total, compared to the 10,000-plus in Europe), there are hostels here that can easily challenge the world's best, not to mention many of the hotels in the same cities. The few below not only stand out among their domestic peers, but set the standard for hostels everywhere.