Where do I stay? The eternal bane of the travel-hungry wanderer. While the domain of backpacking comes with the giving up of life’s luxuries, it’s definitely shouldn’t include giving up on basic hygiene. For a long time, India had two extremes of travel. Either you stayed at a five-star resort and paid the price or you resigned yourself to a mediocre hovel and saved your money. But now with both foreign and local tourists constantly tramping across the country trying to ‘find themselves’, the tourism industry has woken up to a very special niche in the market.
These travellers are on the look out for something clean, comfortable and vibrant. Away from the cookie cutter cream walls of hotel franchises, something that speaks to the identity of the city while maintaining a professional dynamic. Thus was born the youth hostel culture, places that were cute and quirky, low on amenities but uncompromising on comfort. We’ve rounded up a selection of South India’s best offerings so when you decide to explore the south of the sub-continent, you never have to worry about where to rest your head.
I. Roadhouse Hostel - Across Goa
Goa isn’t exactly wanting for budget accommodation but sometimes it really helps to know what names to trust so you don’t end up crammed in a room with 20 strangers and no AC. Roadhouse manages to combine the convenience of budget living with the comfort you need and since they have 3 hostels across Goa, you’re never too far away from a quality stay. Geared towards the youth they provide a host of fun extras like free Wi-Fi, a library and a recreational room equipped with a PlayStation, foosball and a pool table to while away the lazy afternoons.
Cost: It starts at about Rs. 400 per room per night and varies upwards depending on whether you want breakfast included in your package.
II. Green’s Guesthouse - Auroville
Situated in Auroville, Tamil Nadu, this hostel is a mere three kms from Pondicherry airport. The hostel features a terrace restaurant, free Wi-Fi, private parking and vegan meals. Wind surfing, yoga, and horse riding are some of the workshops conducted in and around the hostel. The Matrimandir, a site of spiritual significance for practitioners of Integral yoga is not too far away. The hostel has a diverse set up of rooms and offers many options including terraces/balconies, co-ed dorms, family suites as well as private rooms.
Cost: Dorm rooms are available at Rs. 350 per night. Private rooms range from Rs. 1200 per night to Rs. 3000 per night.
III. Vedanta Wake Up! - Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala
Inspired by their backpacking trip across Australia, two IT professionals founded this hostel chain in the hopes of giving travellers a decent place to stay without breaking the bank. As you might expect from a hostel chain, frills and flounces have been kept to the minimum with emphasis being laid on their superior cleanliness and spectacular locations. Their Pondicherry branch is idyllic to say the least and their outlet in Varkala is right on the beach.
Cost: Starting at about Rs. 700 per night you couldn’t ask for a more perfect choice.
IV. Social Rehab - Bangalore
Ideated after hostels in the West, Social Rehab aims to make the backpacking experience fun and quirky again. You can choose from their male or female 6 room dorms or get your own private suite all of which are clean and kitschy. Their main common room offers access to board games, movies, books or just a fun place to hang out. Best of all, you never have to worry about being fed, their breakfast buffet comes included in the price of the room as do afternoon snacks and amazing dinner spreads.
Cost: Starting at Rs. 800 for a bunk in the dorms, considering how much you’ll save on meals, this is more than your money’s worth.
V. Natura Ashram - Pondicherry
For the more serene traveller, this is the place to be. A community space, many of Natura’s residents are long-term, working on projects in the city and as it’s located in a private residence, it can currently accommodate 10 people at a time. As you would imagine at an ashram, there is very little by way of luxuries, the minimalist rooms are clean and comfortable and traditional South Indian fare is available for meals, so it’s perfect if you’re looking to go back to the basics and cleanse yourself from city life.
Cost: Starting at Rs. 200 per person per night there’s nothing to lose from a stay at this quiet sanctuary.
VI. Construkt - Bangalore
Construkt was designed to be a convenient, business-oriented space aimed at the working professionals and ‘hackpackers’, a term they coined themselves to describe the tech entrepreneurs who are always looking for a clean, safe and inspiring place to stay that doesn’t break the bank. They designed the space to keep up with recent trends in workspace. Their premises are all-open plan with shared desks and spaces. The 3500 square foot area includes 4 bedrooms that accommodate a total of 20 people, shared bathrooms, a living room, a dining area, balconies, a library area, laundry area and a fully equipped self-catering kitchen.
Cost: Starting at Rs. 400 per night for a bunk, this is perfect for anyone who believes in networking wherever they go.
VII. Happy Camper Hostel - Kochi
The name gives away the experience in this case, and you’ll be hard pressed not to enjoy your stay at this boutique backpacker hostel. Their dorms sleep between 6-8 people (they also have a women-only pod) and they even have a couples dorm if you don’t want to split from your travel buddy. Their rooftop cafe is the perfect place to grab a bite before heading out and they offer plenty of guided tours to help you discover the most interesting experiences the city has to offer.
Cost: Starting at Rs. 500 you have nothing to lose at this cheerful hideaway.
VIII. Karuna Farm - Kodaikanal
Located on a hill overlooking the Kodaikanal Valley, Karuna is a community farm with cottages available to rent. The farm is completely off the grid and only uses solar energy and hydroelectric power. Karuna Farm grows Brazilian coffee, avocado, lime, jackfruit, custard apple, and passion fruit through organic methods. It even has its own beehives. Each of the nine cottages at the farm is equipped with a kitchen for those who wish to cook and for the others, there is a restaurant overlooking a lovely little waterfall, which serves vegetarian meals to order.
Cost: With rates starting as low as Rs. 750 and only going up to Rs. 2,500 per night, this place is super affordable and the best way to experience eco-friendly living.
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