As the market for alternative lodging accommodations continues to grow, many travelers are drawn to the affordable pricing and unique experience that hostels offer. Whether you’re traveling solo or with a group, looking for an affordable staycation, or welcoming out-of-town guests, local Austin hostels provide not just a place to sleep, but a communal experience fitting a variety of budgets. Some even provide cocktails, food, co-working, or live music for locals who aren’t looking for lodging at all.
1/ Drifter Jack’s Hostel
If you want housing close to campus or just need to update your Instagram, make sure to check out Drifter Jack’s Hostel located in West Campus. Sophie Roach’s artwork beautifully decorates the side of the building, where guests walk up a flight of stairs to the hostel’s entrance. Twenty-seven other local artists have contributed to the hostel’s décor, as each room has its own unique theme and painted murals.
Staff at Drifter Jack’s interact with guests prior to their stays, researching guests’ interests so they can provide recommendations when they arrive. Guests are also informed of local events curated from Austin event calendars, and the hostel hosts its own weekly event nights, as well.
With 50 beds in only nine rooms, Drifter Jack’s is the perfect choice for guests seeking to strike up conversations with other travelers in a communal atmosphere. Plus, the close proximity to campus means a convenient location near public transportation stops and eateries such as Madam Mam’s and Kerbey Lane Café, just a block away.
2602 Guadalupe St. – Website
➡️ Keep reading: “8 Ways Anyone Can Enjoy the UT Campus Right Now”
2/ Hostel 512
East Austin continues to change with new retail, restaurant, and nightlife developments. Hostel 512 is located in the heart of it all.
Rooms can accommodate solo travelers in traditional dorm rooms, or more private rooms for those in small groups. Regardless of which setup you choose, oversized beds and clean interiors will make you feel as comfortable as you would feel in your own home.
Offering cozy lodging at affordable prices, Hostel 512 emphasizes its exterior, as well. The hostel is completely gated, with an expansive outdoor space with picnic tables and games, so you can engage in friendly competition or conversation with other guests.
When you’re ready to explore all that east Austin has to offer, walk just a few blocks south to sample beers at Hops & Grain Brewing or stroll toward East Sixth to enjoy cocktails at Whisler’s or dance the night away at The White Horse.
2308 Coronado St. – Website
3/ HK Austin
Conveniently located on East Cesar Chavez next to Chicon, HK Austin maintains the integrity of a registered historic landmark, with renovations that have created a welcoming hostel.
Through Texas-themed décor, world maps, and guest-made artwork, Brent Underwood and Matt Kepnes sought to create an environment where guests could share a passion for traveling in a cozy environment, akin to staying at a friend’s. With wrap-around porches and weekly guest barbecues, the Victorian mansion provides budget-friendly accommodations and ample opportunity to interact with other guests in the common areas.
Need an icebreaker? Simply ask one of the guests to take your picture in front of HK’s photo booth wall, or to jump into a portrait with you. Friendly faces in former guests’ polaroids adorn the walls, along with eclectic records and wall hangings.
1807 E. Cesar Chavez – Website
4/ Firehouse Lounge & Hostel
Events, nightlife, and music attract locals and tourists to downtown, and Firehouse Lounge & Hostel offers access to it all. On the spot where Austin’s oldest fire station was once located, Kent Roth and Collin Ballard have transformed an 1885 structure into an international hostel. The lobby stays active, with guests checking in and local patrons of the lounge arriving for drinks and live music.
The bookshelf next to the check-in desk offers hidden access to a welcoming environment of ruby red walls, dark leather booths, and bartenders who have mastered the craft of making a quality cocktail. The lounge is open every night of the week, with snacks offered daily and hot food offered Wednesday through Sunday. Conveniently located across from The Driskill Hotel, Firehouse is convenient for those wanting a prime downtown setting without paying a premium price.
605 Brazos St. – Website
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In a building originally constructed in 1897 as lodging for railroad workers, Native intends to provide affordable sleeping quarters and a whole new hostel experience. General partners Michael Dickson, Antonio Madrid, and Will Steakley combined their local backgrounds and experiences to design a hostel founded on “community and social engagement.”
With private quarters for hostel guests that include curtained bunks, loft suites, and a romper room big enough for 20 people, Native ensures guests have the privacy they want, with the opportunity to socialize in public spaces.
Open to everyone, Native’s café with coffee shop and parlor welcomes anyone looking for an individual or co-working space. Native Bar & Kitchen serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and brunch on the weekends).
With its location just off I-35, Native is within easy walking distance to downtown, Rainey Street, and east Austin. Solo travelers, small groups, larger parties looking to all lodge together, and locals can all enjoy the space Native has created. Spacious, yet cozy, this local hostel successfully blends spaces where the best of all worlds (hostel, hotel, coffeehouse, café) work seamlessly together.
807 E. 4th St. – Website
When you’re looking for affordable accommodations around the downtown area, hotels aren’t your only option. All of these local Austin hostels aim to provide an overall experience, rather than just a place to sleep. With nightly and weekly programming, deep ties to the local community, and convenient walkability, visitors and locals alike are drawn to what these hostels provide. Even if you’re not an overnight guest, Firehouse and Native are worth checking out for craft cocktails and live music…on a regular basis.
Danielle Fritz enjoys exploring new places and eating all the things. Follow her on Instagram and let her know your favorite places to try.