There’s a lot to see and do in Italy, be it admiring gentle scenery and gorging on black truffle stringozzi in Umbria, or embracing your inner tourist on a stereotypical gondola ride in Venice. The downside is that it can be hard to fit it all into your allotted time frame or budget.
Fortunately, Il Bel Paese does hostels very well, with exquisite interior design adding a touch of class to affordable accommodation – whether you’re travelling with family, friends, your partner or on your own. Here are nine of the best.*
We-Crociferi’s courtyard is a suntrap
We-Crociferi is set in a restored 12th-century monastery just 400 metres from Venice’s Galleria Giorgio Franchetti and Ca' d'Oro, one of the city’s finest palazzos. The hostel’s light-filled dorms and apartments all feature original brick walls and ceiling beams While shared living spaces allow opportunities to connect with other guests, either over an espresso in the courtyard or an aperitivo on the canalside terrace. Breakfast is also served al fresco – try the café’s sweet ‘baci in gondola’ pastry or a sun-dried tomato ciabatta.
The Hostello, Verona
In fair Verona, lay your head in Hostello’s characterful dorms
The Hostello is a 15-minute walk from the Casa di Giulietta’s Gothic-style balcony, famous for inspiring the most famous scene of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. With a nod to history, some dorms have their own balcony facing the courtyard, while all rooms feature exposed stone walls, wood-panelled ceilings with mosaic-tiled ensuites. Downstairs, the kitchen’s homely décor creates a relaxed atmosphere; help yourself to a continental breakfast or play one of the hostel’s board games.
Dopa Hostel, Bologna
The private rooms at Dopa Hostel come with an artistic twist
Dopa Hostel is in Bologna’s university quarter, just five minutes’ walk from the Palazzo Poggi Museum and Via Zamboni, one of the city’s main thoroughfares. Its private rooms come with wood or industrial-style furnishings, while dorms have booth-like bunks with privacy curtains and personal lockers. Borrow a book at reception and curl up in a quiet nook, or prepare a snack in the shared kitchen where tea and coffee is always on hand. In the morning, there’s a lavish spread of cold cuts, fruit and American pancakes to fill up on.
Ostello Bello Assisi Bevagna, Bevagna
Ostello Bello Assisi is found amid Bevagna’s quaint medieval streets
Ostello Bello Assisi Bevagna makes the most of its 10th-century stone structure. The hostel uses trompe l’oeil wall frescoes and smartly chosen furniture to make its low, rib-vault ceilings and tight quarters feel airy and open. And many of the bathrooms are vividly painted from floor to ceiling, covered in the patterns of rippled water or cubist blocks of colour. Outdoors, you’ll have access to a swimming pool and sun deck with hammocks and a garden grill – not to mention the roof terrace overlooking the green hills of Umbria.
Ostello Alpino, Bormio
Ostello Alpino’s pinewood interiors bring the mountains that bit closer
Two kilometres from the cable cars of Bormio – a ski resort in northern Italy – Ostello Alpino offers a new take on the classic Alpine lodge experience. Decked out in pale pinewood, the hostel’s rooms and dorms come with balconies (most of which face the mountains) and ample storage space. The dining lounge hosts a generous buffet each morning, and you can gather round its open fireplace for an evening drink before the kitchen team rustles up regional dishes using produce from their vegetable garden.
The guest lounge at ControVento features vintage furniture and rich greenery
ControVento is found in a grand old building decorated with creative details, just three minutes’ walk from Trieste’s historic centre. The dorms are laid out nice and simply, and the communal rooms are dotted with potted plants, retro TVs and repurposed furniture. You’re free to choose the music on the lounge’s vinyl player or Bluetooth speaker, while the kitchen welcomes you to a breakfast of biscotti and coffee, plus cereal and fruit.
BelloGrande’s roof garden is a great place to relax, day or night
Mere footsteps from Milan’s Centrale station, BelloGrande makes any trip a blissful breeze. On top of serving breakfast all morning, the hostel puts on a daily free evening buffet – starting with a sparkling welcome drink. There’s also a lively piano bar that hosts concerts, karaoke and quiz nights, and tablets available to use at reception. For a more low-key activity, recline in a hammock in the rooftop garden with a freshly ground espresso.
Babila Hostel, Milan
School’s always out at Babila Hostel: creative, carefree vibes are always in
Housed in a former school, Babila Hostel is a 10-minute walk from Milan Cathedral and the city’s flagship high-end fashion boutiques. Guests of the hostel will be invited to join open-mic nights, yoga classes and tournaments of table football and ping-pong, while the bar area prompts spontaneous chatter (or maybe it’s the free welcome drink). Work out in the basement gym, play some of the hostel’s video games or gorge on delicious Italian antipasto during aperitivo hour.
Timbuktu Hostel, San Vito lo Capo
Timbuktu’s desert island décor and community feel make for a relaxing getaway
Timbuktu Hostel promises shabby-chic interiors, Sicilian food and sea views – all just an hour’s drive from Trapani Airport. Here you can jumpstart your day with a yoga session at sunrise, followed by a croissant and foamy coffee for breakfast. It’s all about going with the flow, whether that’s in the laid-back music lounge or on the backyard terrace at night, when everyone comes together for drinks, DJ sets and traditional dishes flavoured with herbs from the hostel garden.
**The data scientists at Booking.com used internal review data to find the most highly rated hostels in Italy.