FREEHAND MIAMI: Hang out poolside among lush greenery in one of Miami's hottest up-and-coming neighborhoods for less at the Freehand Miami. The Broken Shaker, the property's on-site bar, has won raves for its artisanal cocktails and punch bowls, using fresh produce and herbs from the hostel's own hydroponic garden (from $30 per night for a shared room, from $113 for a private room, thefreehand.com).
FREEHAND MIAMI: The shared Super 8 room is the most affordable way to crash at the Freehand Miami. Complimentary social activities like beachside yoga and night swims are organized by the hostel's activities concierge, along with bike rentals for pedaling up and down Miami Beach's famous boardwalk (thefreehand.com).
GENERATOR AMSTERDAM (and other cities): Amsterdam is the latest European hub where the hip millennial favorite Generator brand has set up shop (from about $17 per night for a shared room, about $68 for a private room, generatorhostels.com). The properties pride themselves on local, neighborhood-specific charm; Generator Amsterdam, overlooking Oosterpark, is housed in a former university zoological building and serves Dutch beer in a lounge dubbed the Auditorium, with original classroom lecture–style seating and a professor’s desk as a bar, replete with gas taps and reclaimed laboratory beakers.
GENERATOR AMSTERDAM (and other cities): In step with the university theme, bright-orange books line the Library at Generator Amsterdam. Head to the basement's boiler room to find a secret bar. Other Generator hostels are located in Paris, London, Venice, Berlin, Barcelona, Hamburg, Copenhagen, and Dublin. Coming this summer: Stockholm and Rome (generatorhostels.com).
CIRCUS HOSTEL BERLIN: Smack dab in the middle of Berlin's trendy Mitte district, Circus Hostel provides easy access to the area's café culture, shops, and nightlife—and an on-site restaurant with a 5-euro all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast (from about $22 per night for a shared room, from about $64 for a private room, circus-berlin.de). With a focus on social spaces and varied programming like live DJs and storytellers who recount Berlin's unique history, the hostel stays true to the city's roots—even making its own beer in the microbrewery downstairs.
CIRCUS HOSTEL BERLIN: A bed in an eight- to 10-bed dorm-style room (above) will run you less than 25 bucks. Walking tours and bicycle rentals are free; if you want a ride with more power, electric motorbikes and Segways are available for rent from about $14 (circus-hostel.de). Or upgrade your stay at Circus Hotel across the street, which offers private rooms and apartments from about $64 per night (circus-berlin.de). Read all about the hotel here: Three-Day Weekend: Berlin.
FREEHAND CHICAGO: A 1920s building in Chicago's art- and shopping-centric River North neighborhood is home to the Freehand Chicago (including its opulent lobby, above) (from $33 per night for a shared room, from $143 for a private room, thefreehand.com). Like its sister property in Miami, it has its own Broken Shaker bar, plus Café Integral, which serves Midwest-inspired "Mesoamerican comfort food" like Nicaraguan shakshuka—eggs poached in salsa ranchera ($10).
FREEHAND CHICAGO: A shared quad room at Freehand Chicago (above). Organized activities include free walking tours of the Windy City and discounted Cocktails + Crochet sessions. The next U.S. city that the hostel brand plans to conquer? Downtown Los Angeles (thefreehand.com).
KEX HOSTEL, REYKJAVÍK, ICELAND: A repurposed biscuit factory houses the Downtown Reykjavík KEX Hostel—"kex" is the Icelandic word for biscuit (from about $32 per night for a shared room, from about $181 for a private room with bathroom, kexhostel.is). Weekly jazz concerts are part of the property's repertoire, as are Cozy Sundays, a schedule of family-focused events like acting classes and children's yoga.
KEX HOSTEL, REYKJAVÍK, ICELAND: Make new friends on the heated outdoor patio or in the hostel's gastropub, Saemundur í Sparifötunum, which emphasizes locally produced and foraged cuisine with a focus on Icelandic heritage, like local salted cod and smörrebröd (buttered rye bread) topped with shredded pork (entrées from about $19, kexhotel.is).
THE WAYFARER, SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA: Soak up California cool at The Wayfarer hostel in Santa Barbara, situated in the city's Funk Zone art district (from $54 per night for a shared room, from $149 for a private room, pacificahotels.com).
THE WAYFARER, SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA: A house-made craft soda station awaits travelers in The Wayfarer's lobby, and breakfast is complimentary. Morning yoga by the heated pool, winery tours, and local pub crawls are on the schedule every week, along with Sunday afternoon DJ'd Splash Bashes and pop-up shops featuring handmade goods (pacificahotels.com).
DOWNTOWN BEDS, MEXICO CITY: Previously a 17th-century palace, Downtown Beds Mexico City offers amenities including a rooftop pool terrace and jacuzzi with city views (from about $11 per night for a shared room, from about $31 for a private room with a shared bathroom, downtownbeds.com).
DOWNTOWN BEDS, MEXICO CITY: Downtown Beds is right in the middle of Mexico City's colonial district, the UNESCO World Heritage site Centro Histórico (downtownbeds.com), and adjacent to the historic, affordable four-star hotel Downtown México (from $147 per night, downtownmexico.com).
CLINK 261, LONDON: One of two Clink London locations (one more just opened in Amsterdam), Clink 261 is a small property near King’s Cross Station bursting with whimsical Big Ben– and queen–themed art. Booking a bunk in one of its 18-bed rooms is an incredible value (from about $15 per night for a shared room, from about $57 for a private room with sink but no WC or shower, clinkhostels.com).
CLINK 261, LONDON: A book exchange, Wii, a free all-you-can-eat breakfast, and access to sister property Clink 78's ClashBar are perks of staying at the hostel. Clink 261 especially touts its women-only dorms, with either four or eight beds (clinkhostels.com).
SAFESTAY EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND: Billed as a luxury "poshtel," the brand-new Safestay Edinburgh, in the building that held Scotland's first printing press, joins Safestay's three other properties in London and York (from about $26 per night for a shared room, from about $85 for a private room, safestay.com).
SAFESTAY EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND: Within walking distance of must-sees like the National Museum of Scotland, Safestay Edinburgh has cheeky decor that incorporates Scottish heritage, from tartan-plaid chairs to locally made prints adorning the walls (safestay.com).
HONORABLE MENTION: MICHELBERGER HOTEL, BERLIN: An uber-modern riverside hotel a stone's throw from the Berlin Wall's East Side Gallery, the Michelberger isn't technically a hostel but does have dorm-style lodgings with up to six single beds per room (from about $84 for a king-bed "cosy" room, from about $274 for a six-bed room, michelbergerhotel.com). It's an ideal setup for a bachelor/bachelorette party home base, a place to house a band, or a family stay.
MICHELBERGER HOTEL, BERLIN: Named "the Big One," these rooms (above) at the Michelberger sleep six and are available in different configurations for privacy or group gatherings, such as work retreats. The property has a full-service restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner—with vegan and raw options—and hawks its own brand of herbal schnapps, inspired by traditional German recipes (from about $36 for a bottle, shop.michelbergerhotel.com).