Have you ever stayed in a hostel?  They are a great option for affordable travel lodging.

A hostel will usually have shared water closets (bathrooms) and bedrooms dorm style. Many offer free wifi, breakfast, social common areas, day and night excursions and plenty of other travelers to chat with. If you have never stayed at a hostel I highly recommend it when traveling alone or in pairs. I prefer to stay at hostels over any “low budget” hotel because they often offer a cleaner, more hospitable and have a fun environment.

Seattle City Skyline
I recently had an extended stay in Seattle and took the opportunity to stay at all three downtown, Seattle hostels.
In this post I will go into detail on each one of them. I will be reviewing City Hostel Seattle, Green Tortoise Hostel Seattle and Hostelling International Seattle at the American Hotel.

1. City Hostel Seattle is located in the trendy BellTown, the foodie and bar district. I honestly don’t think you can beat the location. Great bars, live music and restaurants all around. It is not uncommon to find great street performers here in this area.  I listened to a guy play the guitar and entertain a huge crowd.  It reminded me of the early nineties in Seattle’s music heyday. I then found myself across the street at Vittles for great food, wine and a place to plug my laptop in and spend a few hours writing away.

The accommodations are clean and the staff are incredibly nice and helpful. The 24 hour front desk person doubles as a commons DJ with local and abstract sounds. This hostel is setup as both a hostel and a local art exhibit. Each room has been decorated by a local artist and it works.
They always have something to do for the guests. While I stayed here they sponsored a beer crawl and community Soup night as well as a movie night and comedy night in their very own theater. Generally the common area is just a social communal area for meeting new people and storytelling. They tell me in the Summer (I was here in the winter) that the outside patio and fire pit becomes the place to loiter.

Did I mention that the rooms were decorated by local artists? Pro-Tip: upgrade to the dorm room with the private water closet and shower. Although Seattle Hostel has plenty of community water closets with showers, I found it very convenient to get up in the morning and not leave my room for the shower. Besides, by upgrading you greatly increase your chance of not sharing a room. Each room is equipped with large lockers that you can bring your own lock or rent one from them. The sheets and covers are washed and replaced it seemed every 2 days. The in-room shower was obviously bleached often enough that I felt comfortable enough to forgo the shower shoes. The breakfast was some fruit and cereal and of course coffee.

Definitely, I would recommend this hostel for anyone who is traveling to or through Seattle. It has by far been a great experience and you can’t beat the price. I honestly am very happy I stayed here over a chain hotel. Don’t spend $130 a night on a cheap or chain stay that may put you out of downtown when you can come to Seattle Hostel located in the center of the city for under $40.

2. The Green Tortoise
is located right next to the famous Seattle Public Market. You can conveniently step out the hostel and be in the tourist center with many activities at the doorstep. There are several famous breweries, bars shopping, the Seattle Aquarium and the Seattle Great Wheel.

If you have ever heard of “Party Hostels” this one fits that title. Unique in any building in Washington, they have a “smoking room” that is for your local, legal, recreational marijuana, vaping and old fashion cigarettes. The vibe is definitely pro drinking, marijuana and constant music. People are social and discussions break out in just about any subject you can think of. They also have games like chess and jenga to play. You can rent a bicycle from the hostel to enjoy in the city. They also host events each day, while I stayed here they took a group for a ferry trip on the sound and bar hopping. It seems other events happen that are not sponsored by the staff like when a bunch of people got together and cooked a “nice” meal, set the tables and had dinner together.

The rooms are nice and the bunks have privacy curtains that serve to keep your light out of the room or keep others from you. They have both co-ed dorms and ladies only dorms or you can upgrade to a private room. Large lockers are under the bunks. All water closets are shared and kept fairly clean. Everyone I met was respectful of each other. The staff is great and really do a good job of going out of their way to make sure everyone is having a good time. Breakfast is cereal and toast with some fruit.

I would recommend this hostel for anyone looking to meet other people to hang out with, share drinks and or marijuana and tour the city. While I stayed, the majority of guests were younger and came from all around the country and the world.

3. Hostelling International at the American hotel is the name brand in Hostels and was my default choice as a Hostelling International member. It is very conveniently located near Union Station, the light rail from SeaTac Airport, and the main Interstate bus and train station. When I take the train up from Portland, I walk to the hostel since it is so close to the Amtrak station. The hostel is in the up and coming China Town, a mix between authentic, upscale Asian cuisine and shopping. 

The accommodations are not below par nor did it exceed my expectations. I upgraded to the four-person dorm room with shared community water closets. Each room has a large locker to secure all your items. While I stayed the hostel, they advertised a “movie night” that never materialized. I didn’t see many other excursions like the other two had. There are several lounge areas to rest in and most people kept to themselves. Included is a breakfast that consisted of bagels, toast, fruit and the coffee was decent.

This hostel is recommended if you are traveling through Seattle and need a convenient place to sleep between trains or getting to the airport. You might consider it also if there was a last minute flight cancelation and you needed a place to stay overnight.

Overall, I had a great time at all of these hostels and met some genuinely nice and interesting people.
If you have stayed in a hostel, drop me a comment and let me know how your experience was.

Happy Hosteling!


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Having worked for some of the biggest tech companies, I have traveled extensively on business. I also travel the world with my family as we explore locations, cultures, & interesting places.


  1. Great Article! I just spend the past weekend at Green Tortoise Hostel and had an excellent experience. Super chilled people and a great vibe. I have stayed at many hostels before and this one was one of my best memories. Agreed on the ‘party hostel’

  2. I hope to come visit Seattle in the summer of 2018 when Ill be retired from 30 years of fighting fires. Although Im an older guy I want to give hostels a try as they are obviously less expensive and more social than a chain hotel. Not that I’m exactly a gregarious person but Im looking to stay for a month or two in the area, as Im coming from Texas I want to make the drive worth it.

    Do these allow for long stays, or maybe is there another class of place to stay you’d recommend like a hostel but maybe a tad more private for long term?

    Thanks for this post, very helpful.

    • D Rocks, you will not have an issue being older or retired in the Seattle hostels. You might be surprised at how many retirees spend their time traveling through hostels. In most cases, at most hostels, you can only stay for a short period of time usually a week or two. I would call the hostel your thinking of and specifically ask them to see if there are exceptions. Sometimes they also offer longer stays for free in exchange for a few hours of work a week which is something else you may be able to explore. If you really want a hostel experience during this time, it is possible to hostel hop between the 3 downtown (there is a fourth on the very north side of the city as well) locations. Another good option may be using AirB&B or vrbo.com, which we sometimes do on our trips.

      Thanks for your comment and please let us know how it goes.

      • Kim, Thanks so much for taking the time to reply, I appreciate it

        • Anytime – David actually wrote it and I replied since he is the one who has stayed at the hostels. You got the info straight from him.
          Let us know if you stay in Seattle. We are there often! 🙂

  3. I would have never thought to look for hostels to stay at when I was in Seattle. These look like fun, although as I travel with my daughter they would be harder to go to.

  4. We’ve stayed in hostels a few times. At least in Europe some hostels can be better than hotels, as there are quite a few really new hostels:) and a lot of them have the option of a private double room which works out cheaper than a hotel (even if you have to share the bathroom – so what?)

  5. I stayed at the Green Tortoise in Seattle as well and I loved it. I’m not an overly social person, but I went to a games night and the Thanksgiving dinner they had. Apart from that the bathrooms were so clean and spacious.

    • So good to hear you had a pleasant experience there as well! Do you stay at Hostels often? If so, which one has been a favorite? Thanks for sharing!

  6. Great article! I’ve stayed in hostels especially overseas, so it’s nice to get perspective on stateside hostels. I will definitely be trying out one or all of the three next time I’m in Seattle. Hostels are great to meet other travelers!

    My favorite hostel so far has been “The Yellow” in Rome. I would recommend it to anyone visiting Italy and making a stop in Rome. I will be writjng about it soon, so be on the lookout.

    • Joel, I can’t wait to read the blog on the hostel in Rome. We stayed at a super cool campground when we went to Rome. We had 2 smaller kids, so we didn’t hostel there that time. Maybe next time we will check out “The Yellow” since you enjoyed it! Happy Travels!

  7. I have never stayed in a hostel in my life so can’t relate to how they work or what they are like. Your post is very informative to what to expect at these ones and they look pretty good. Not only that, super close to home for us to check out! Thanks for the reviews!

    • Let us know if you ever do try one, I would love to hear what you thought! They are fun for the shared experiences and getting to meet people all over the world. Try one sometime and see what you think 🙂

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