South Africa hostels vary greatly on quality, comfort and customer service. My goal for this blog post is to inform you of my experience staying in each hostel. I will also mention hostels I stayed at in Zambia and Namibia.

What I will do is give rankings to the best South Africa Hostels. I will create different categories for the rankings to help you make a decision when traveling to South Africa.

Without further delay, here are the South Africa hostels:

Best customer service in all the South Africa hostels:

Shoestring Airport Lodge – Johannesburg

 

 

Appearance – 6/10

Security – 9/10

Comfort – 7/10

Customer service11/10 (I’ll explain why below)

Cleanliness – 6/10

Food (if applicable) – 6/10

Price – 9/10

Wifi – 8/10

Location – 7/10

Experience:

We stayed here for a total of five nights in three separate occasions. On our first and second stay here, our accommodation looks like the room in the image above. But, our third stay’s accommodation looked more like a shed. While I liked the first and second time we stayed there, I didn’t quite like the room the third time we stayed over. There was also ants walking around randomly throughout the house.

The breakfast was alright, it was cereal with some toast and jam. Wifi speed was decent but only accessible in the kitchen area.

However, all my complaint about this hostel is irrelevant when you see the owner, Rob, in action. He has the best customer service I have ever seen in my life. Hands down top of the line most amazing customer service experience. He took my clothes to the laundry mat while I was exploring the Cradle of Humankind, he offers free airport pickup, he will help you piece together your South African travel itinerary because he himself has travelled throughout the country. Be sure to get his advice but they are golden and crucial to have a good time when exploring the country. I cannot say enough about how amazing his customer service is. It’s so good I wrote an entire blog post about him located here.

If it’s your first time going to South Africa, your first stop must be this hostel. As a matter of fact, even if it’s not your first time in South Africa, you should still stay because Rob can guide you to make your travel itinerary even better. I am definitely staying here again the next time I’m around Johannesburg.

Best overall hostel:

Cristal Cove Backpackers – Jeffreys Bay

 

 

Appearance – 9/10

Security – 9/10

Comfort10/10

Customer service – 9/10

Cleanliness10/10

Food (if applicable) – Breakfast wasn’t included but you can easily buy food in nearby stores.

Price10/10

Wifi – 8/10

Location – 10/10

Experience:

After a brutal 10-hour drive from Coffee Bay to Jeffreys Bay, I was pleasantly surprised how awesome Cristal Cove Backpackers is! For the price we paid, we got an ensuite washroom, and kitchen! Later on, it turns out there was no other people booking the accommodation so we ended up having an apartment size accommodation complete with a private kitchen, washroom and a view of the beach from our balcony! We got all these perks for the price of a private hostel room.

The grocery store was also a short walk away and Karen and myself took advantage of this. We bought groceries everyday and cooked all our meals. It was a pleasant home away from home experience that we were yearning after being on the road for almost two months backpacking.

Next time I come back to South Africa to do another road trip, I will definitely stay in this hostel again.

Best looking among all South Africa hostels:

Amphitheatre Backpackers – Drakensberg 

 

 

Appearance – 10/10

Security – 9/10

Comfort – 9/10

Customer service – 8/10

Cleanliness – 9/10

Food (if applicable) – Breakfast wasn’t included but you can buy food in the hostel restaurant.

Price – 9/10

Wifi – 0/10

Location – 8/10

Experience:

The only hostel high up in the Drakensberg mountain. Karen and myself were shocked when we arrived in Amphitheatre backpackers. The hostel looked more like a mountain resort than a the typical hostel we were accustomed to. The kitchen was clean and roomy if you wanted to cook your own meals.

There is also a grocery store not too far from the hostel you can easily drive to and buy some food. The only downside would be the wifi is not free. Even if you pay for wifi, you only get a little bit of data usage before it runs out and you have to pay for it again. And, the wifi is also slow.

However, this is a small problem because you can easily purchase a data plan when you arrive in South Africa and use it when you’re in Amphitheatre backpackers.

The hostel also offers a tour to Lesotho which no other accommodation offers. It was definitely a good experience and I’d love to come back here one day and bring my sisters here so they can enjoy this accommodation.

Best hostel food and wifi:

The Backpack Hostel – Cape Town

 

 

Appearance – 9/10

Security – 9/10

Comfort – 7/10

Customer service – 8/10

Cleanliness – 8/10

Food (if applicable)10/10

Price – 7/10

Wifi – 10/10

Location – 8/10

Experience:

Karen and myself stayed in the dorm room in this hostel as oppose to a private room. Typically, if the private room cost is the same as if we both paid for a dorm room separately, we would get our own room. Cape Town accommodation is quite expensive and even the dorm room was quite expensive.

However, the good thing about the Backpack hostel is that they provide lockers which is unheard of while staying in South Africa. They also have onsite security to ensure your car is safe in the parking lot. (South Africa is known for car jacking)

The biggest perk with staying in the Backpack hostel is definitely their breakfast. You will get an amazing breakfast buffet and the food is spectacular! Oh and the wifi is extremely fast compared to other South Africa hostels.

I’d definitely stay here again just to eat their breakfast buffet again.

Most comfortable bed:

Cardboard Box Backpackers – Windhoek Namibia

 

Appearance – 5/10

Security – 5/10

Comfort – 8/10

Customer service – 8/10

Cleanliness – 8/10

Food (if applicable) – 6/10

Price – 8/10

Wifi – 6/10

Location – 5/10

Experience:

Despite the hostel being in Namibia, I wanted to give a review on countries neighbouring South Africa since you will probably visit them if you’re in the area.

Cardboard Box backpackers looks quite sketchy. They let locals in at night to drink and party. Theft is a common problem in this hostel as locals would enter the dorm rooms and take people’s belongings.

Thankfully, Karen and myself got a private room instead of a dorm room since the cost was similar. The private room looks like a prison cell but surprisingly, the bed was VERY comfortable. I had a really good sleep in this hostel. Their washrooms were also surprisingly clean.

Would I stay here again? Probably not because I don’t think I’ll be coming back to Namibia after my bad experience in this country.

Best sleep:

Sugarloaf Backpackers – Coffee Bay

 

 

Appearance – 7/10

Security – 6/10

Comfort – 6/10

Customer service – 8/10

Cleanliness – 7/10

Food (if applicable) – 8/10 (there’s no free breakfast but food in the restaurant was quite good)

Price – 8/10

Wifi – 0/10

Location – 1/10

Experience:

Coffee bay is hands down the worst place I have ever been to in South Africa. I had to deal with crappy roads and hostile locals when I left this city.

Sugarloaf backpackers is a good hostel to stay in if you are the surfer type individual. They have good waves for surfing and the hostel vibe caters to those that like the chill laid back life.

Wifi is non-existent here. Be sure to get a data plan before traveling in South Africa because you can still access the internet that way.

The location of Sugarloaf is also quite bad for amenities because Coffee Bay in general is not a very convenient place to visit.

Their restaurant burgers were quite good and surprisingly, their bed is very comfortable. Karen and myself slept very well in the dorm room!

They also offer gated parking; though, space is limited so don’t expect to get a parking spot if you come during peak season (November to February).

I will never go back to Coffee Bay ever again because of the risk of dealing with hostile locals. However, if you like surfing, Sugarloaf backpackers is a perfectly decent hostel.

Other South Africa hostels and hotels I stayed at (neighbouring countries included):

Happy Hippo Backpackers – Durban

 

South Africa Hostels

 

Appearance – 8/10

Security – 7/10

Comfort – 6/10

Customer service – 6/10

Cleanliness – 8/10

Food (if applicable) – No breakfast or food sold.

Price – 8/10

Wifi – 6/10

Location – 7/10

Experience:

Happy Hippo looks like a pretty good hostel. The washroom is very clean despite being a shared. My only problem in this hostel is their beds. They are so sunk in that it hurts your back to sleep in them.

Besides the terrible bed, the hostel does have a nice decor, a sizeable kitchen, spacious lounge and sometimes working internet. This hostel is a good quick stop over if you do a road trip in South Africa.

White Shark Backpackers – Gansbaai

 

 

Appearance – 5/10

Security – 8/10

Comfort – 6/10

Customer service10/10

Cleanliness – 7/10

Food (if applicable) – No free breakfast or food sold.

Price – 8/10

Wifi – 5/10

Location – 9/10

Experience:

At first glance, White Shark Backpackers looks like a pretty dingy hostel. The rooms are quite dated, and the kitchen is very small. There’s also an uncomfortable feeling while staying in this hostel due to how old the place looks.

However, the owner’s customer service is amazing! If you are looking to do great white shark cage diving in Gansbaai South Africa, I would definitely recommend staying here! The owner will give you a better price than shown on most websites. She is also on top of things when it comes to catering to your needs.

Because you’re really only going to Gansbaai for shark cage diving, then I would recommend staying here for a night or two. This accommodation is a five minute walk from the docks where all the shark cage diving companies are located. If you’re searching through South Africa hostels to setup base for shark cage diving, White Shark backpackers is a great choice.

Jollyboys Backpackers – Livingstone Zambia

 

 

Appearance – 9/10

Security – 7/10

Comfort – 2/10

Customer service – 8/10

Cleanliness – 7/10

Food (if applicable) – 8/10 (No breakfast but food was sold in the restaurant)

Price – 7/10

Wifi – 5/10

Location – 8/10

Experience:

I felt really disappointed when I stayed in this hostel in Zambia. Upon arriving, the hostel looks amazing. It looks like some kind of resort with a nice bar, swimming pool and great decor.

However, the moment night time falls, you are in for a treat. This hostel gets swarmed with mosquitoes. Going to sleep becomes difficult as swarms of mosquito starts biting you left and right leaving you covered with welts the next morning.

The hostel also doesn’t provide mosquito nets. I’d rather they get rid of all the cool decor and replace it with a mosquito net so people can have a good night sleep!

At least their customer service and bar food is quite good, just expect to get eaten alive by mosquitoes as you eat your yummy meal.

Kruger Gate Protea Hotel – Kruger National Park

 

 

Appearance – 10/10

Security – 8/10

Comfort – 10/10

Customer service – 8/10

Cleanliness – 8/10

Food (if applicable) – 9/10

Price – We redeemed Marriott Hotel points but it’s quite pricy if you paid out of pocket.

Wifi – 8/10

Location – 9/10

Experience:

Even though it’s not one of the South Africa hostels I stayed at, it’s the only hotel I stayed in. Because it is a Marriott hotel brand, the accommodation is very nice. I redeemed my Marriott Hotel points thanks to travel hacking and got two free nights. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have stayed here.

The only bad thing I can point out about this accommodation is that on our last night here, we got swarmed with random insects falling from the roof. Aside from that and its expensive price tag, it’s a very nice hotel in Kruger National Park.

I hope you found this review on all the South Africa hostels I stayed at helpful. Feel free to reply back or send me an email should you have anymore questions or comments.

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