Zostel – Kathmandu’s Coolest New Backpacker Hostel
Zostel were the first and are still the biggest modern backpacker hostel chain that has grown super quickly and now has over 20 locations in India. After staying in Bir and trying paragliding and checking out some of the Zostel backpacker hostels in India I was excited to hear that Zostel opened their first hostel outside in India in Kathmandu, Nepal and staying here was a great start to my Nepal trip.
Location is always really important when choosing accommodation and Zostel Hostel has a great location within a few minutes walk to the center of bustling Thamel, the most popular tourist area, but on a quieter side street so you can actually get some sleep.
Thamel may be super touristy but it’s a perfect place to prepare for a trek and there are many shops selling all the trekking gear and Nepali souvenirs you’ll ever need. There’s also many hotels, cafes, restaurants and bars serving food from all over the world and massage places to soothe aching limbs. Most travellers stay around Thamel when visiting Kathmandu so it’s a good place to meet other travellers. Check out this blog post for more info on Thamel.
Thamel is also within walking distance to the main attractions in Kathmandu, I followed the walking tour in my Lonely Planet Nepal Guidebook and it took me winding through the interesting and atmospheric lanes and courtyards of Old Kathmandu seeing interesting local markets, historic architecture, little temples and stupas until I ended up at famous Durbar Square which is still impressive despite some Earthquake damage.
Freak Street, which was famous in the days of the hippie trail is nearby but nowadays has just a few souvenir shops and cafes. I also walked to the famous Swayambhunath Temple in about 30 mins from Zostel but took a taxi to reach Pashupatinath and Bodhnath stupa. You can also do day trips to other historic towns like Patan and Bhaktapur from Kathmandu.
Backpacker hostels are cheap places to stay but that’s not the only reason to love staying in hostels, usually the best part about staying in a hostel is meeting other like minded travellers and Zostel, Kathmandu Hostel was really sociable and friendly. Zostel was only opened about 6 months ago so the whole place is super clean, modern and comfy with lots of art on the walls and cool places to chill and hang out after a day sightseeing.
Nowadays I prefer to stay in a private room and my room at Zostel was really plush with lots of natural light, more like a hotel than what I would normally expect from a backpacker hostel. The dorms are all clean and comfortable with lockers under the beds and individual reading lights and power sockets.
As I was staying in a private room I was really glad of the many funky common areas to hang out in to meet other backpackers to chat, exchange travel tips and play the traditional Nepalese game of Baagh Chaal. My favourite areas to hang out was on the rooftop where you could see amazing views over Kathmandu and over to the mountains. I especially loved the massive hammock thing that you could sit on on top of the roof.
There were also some cosy inside common rooms and I also spent a lot of time in the garden restaurant downstairs which was also a good place to meet other backpackers. I think the restaurant at Zostel was the best I’ve experienced at a hostel before. As well as hot and cold drinks and alcoholic drinks, many breakfast options, Nepalese and Indian food they also served Chinese food and a large variety of continental food including Italian and Israeli food.
Kathmandu is a fascinating city but can be a bit dusty, crowded and overwhelming. Staying at Zostel Hostel was the perfect base from which to explore Thamel, Kathmandu and around while also meeting fellow backpackers and staying in comfort that doesn’t break the bank.
Dorms start at about 900 Nepalese Rupees (that’s about £6.50 or $8.50) Private rooms are approx. 2,400 NPR (£17.50 or $23) You can probably get cheaper private rooms in a budget guesthouse but the rooms here are swish and new and you wouldn’t get the lively social atmosphere there. You can also leave your luggage at the hostel while you travel around Nepal for a small fee (15 rupees a day) which is super handy. Prices (and exchange rates) can vary of course. If you are visiting Nepal in peak season it’s a good idea to book in advance because the hostel was full when I was there in October. Click here for more info about Zostel hostel and to book your stay.
I’ll be writing more posts about Nepal soon…