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Perhaps surprisingly, hostels are still somewhat of an exotic concept to me — prior to this trip, I’d probably stayed in less than fifteen. My travels have predominantly been in Southeast Asia, where hostels are still a rare choice compared to cheap guesthouses and bungalows — though they are gaining popularity. In Europe, where the hostel reigns supreme, I’ve crashed with friends or stayed in hotels with family. I have stayed in a few dorms across North America, which is still a surprising enough decision to be met with raised eyebrows.

But here in South America, hostels are an integral part of my experience. Travelers discuss them as if they themselves were the destination, and often display fierce loyalty to the brands that pop up in several cities per country. Hostels are grouped into “party” and “quiet” categories, and your choice can make or break your experience in a new destination. I’ve quickly adapted, and found myself joining the crowds bemoaning the lack of charging outlets and rating the merit’s of various free breakfast offerings. Onto the first round of my Peruvian hostel experiences…

The Flying Dog in Iquitos

The Flying Dog was my home base in Iquitos, where I stayed before, after, and in between my trips into the jungle. Situated directly on the Amazon River (I had waterfront views from my first room!) and in the heart of the city, I can’t imagine a finer location.

Flying Dog Hostel in Iquitos, Peru

Flying Dog Hostel in Iquitos, Peru

As there are limited hostel options in Iquitos — compared to cities like Lima and Cusco — Flying Dog attracts travelers of all types, from middle aged adventurers heading out on extended jungle treks to gap year backpackers looking to enjoy the city’s tropical nightlife. There is a large common area, a full communal kitchen, charming private rooms, and a breakfast that has yet to be beat among my hostel-hopping. Slow wifi and tepid water is understandable — after all, this is a city deep in the heart of the Amazon, completely unreachable by road.

Flying Dog Hostel in Iquitos, Peru

Flying Dog Hostel in Iquitos, Peru

The staff was engaging and always asked where I was going in order to direct me to the best and safest way to walk there, which I greatly appreciated as a solo traveler. However, I did become frustrated at one point when I couldn’t get a straight answer on how much it would cost to hire a guide to go to the Belen Marketplace — they told me to “work it out with the guide,” but I desperately wanted some kind of guideline on what to expect to pay. That was the only blemish on an otherwise excellent stay at Flying Dog, which truly felt like my home away from home in the jungle.

Contact: Malecon Tarapaca 592, Iquitos / (51) 65 223755
Amenities: Full kitchen, daily breakfast, wifi and computer use
Pros: Amazing breakfast (eggs, toast, tea, and fresh fruit smoothies!), concerned staff, excellent location, good security
Cons: Bad wifi, temperamental water pressure and temperature
Room tip: Room 1 is the best private room by a mile (and has air conditioning!), Room 2 and Room 4 follow in its footsteps. Avoid room 3, where the only window opens to the stairwell.
Price: Four and six bed dorms are $10, privates with ensuite bathrooms are $35. A three bed private with a shared bath is $38.
Book Here: Flying Dog Iquitos

Flying Dog Hostel in Iquitos, Peru

Flying Dog Hostel in Iquitos, Peru

Ekeko Hostel in Lima

This hostel is no longer open, but here are other hostels in Lima. In the hustle and bustle of Lima, Ekeko Hostel is a quiet choice in what appears to be a renovated private home. Most Miraflores hostels are located in the heart the district around Kennedy Park, though Ekeko is about a ten minute walk beyond. One plus — the hostel is seconds away from the Huaca Pucllana ruins.

Ekeko Hostel Lima

Ekeko Hostel Lima

Ekeko has bright and colorful common areas as well as a full kitchen — a rarity among Lima hostels — and the most eager-to-help hostel staff I have found in Peru to date. The two front desk guys David and Guiseppe were warm, friendly, and proud of their city and happy to show it off. They really went above and beyond — when we had a question about bus service and David couldn’t get through at work, he called from home that night to get an answer.

Ekeko Hostel Lima

Ekeko Hostel Lima

That said, the rooms vary wildly in quality and shared bathrooms are in desperate need of renovation. The room I stayed in was, frankly, unpleasant — extremely small (probably about 7 x 8) with uncomfortable beds (the mattress slats fell out every night) and just a teeny window for light. Yet I toured a spacious and chic room with a private bathroom and balcony — for a mere $2 more per night!

If Ekeko rethinks their pricing structure and upgrades their bathroom, this could be an excellent choice for those seeking a quiet, off-the-grid hostel in which to make themselves a nice dinner and have a chat with a sweetly dedicated staff.

Contact: Garcia Calderon 274, Miraflores District, Lima / (01) 22 21498
Amenities: Full kitchen, basic daily breakfast, wifi and computer use
Pros: Extremely helpful staff, ability to cook own food, good wifi, nice common areas, good security
Cons: Slightly out-of-the-way location, wild variations in private room quality, bathrooms need remodeling
Room tip: Room quality varies wildly. Avoid the single bed and twin privates — both represent poor value.
Price: An eight bed dorms is $8, a four bed female dorm with an ensuite bathroom is $9, a single bed private is $14, a twin private is $28, and a double bed private with an ensuite bathroom is $30.
Book Here: This hostel is no longer open. Here are other hostels in Lima.

Ekeko Hostel Lima

Ekeko Hostel Lima

Banana’s Adventures in Huacachina

Sometimes, backpackers just need a vacation. And that’s when they come to Banana’s Adventures in the desert oasis town of Huacachina.

Banana's Adventures in Huacachina, Peru

Banana's Adventures in Huacachina, Peru

Banana’s Adventures lacks many of the basic amenities you might expect from a hostel — there’s no kitchen, no free breakfast, no computers for guest use, and some dorms even lack lockers. Yet all those complaints are quickly forgotten once sidled up to the  pool, enjoying a cerveza and a snack from the full service bar and kitchen, and prepping for the hostel’s nightly sandboarding tours. The staff also organizes trips to the nearby wineries of Ica, as well as to the more far-flung Ballestas Islands of Paracas and flights over the Nazca Lines.

The twin private rooms that Zoe and I took up shared a clean bathroom and overlooked the lagoon and the sanddunes, respectively. Though things were a tad noisy on the night we decided to stay in, we had a great time on the night we partook in the hostel’s evening barbecue and mingled late into the night.

Banana's Adventures in Huacachina, Peru

Banana's Adventures in Huacachina, Peru

Banana's Adventures in Huacachina, Peru

It’s true that Banana’s Adventures is pricey, and that the cost of eating and drinking here makes it even more so. Yet most backpackers only stay here for a night or two, making it a wildly worthwhile splurge. In fact, I didn’t get enough the first time — I’ve already made plans to return on my way back to Lima.

Contact: Calle Angela de Perotti, Huacachina / (51) 56 237129
Amenities: Swimming pool, wifi, in-house tours, restaurant
Pros: Great poolside atmosphere, plenty of hammocks and lounging areas, daily sandboarding tours, nightly BBQs
Cons: No kitchen, breakfast not included, expensive food, some rooms lack lockers
Room tip: Request the upstairs dorm rooms, which have an ensuite bathroom and lockers.
Price: Four and five bed dorms are around $12. Recommended six bed dorms with an ensuite bathroom are around $15. Private rooms with a shared bathroom are around $27.
Book Here: Banana’s Adventures

Banana's Adventures in Huacachina, Peru

Stay tuned for reviews of hostels in Cusco, Puno, and Arequipa!

This post was made possible by Hostelworld and the generous hospitality of Flying Dog, Ekeko, and Banana’s Adventures. The content of my reviews was not influenced in any way by these partnerships — as always, you have my honesty above all else.

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29 Comments...
  • Sky
    November 14 2013

    I love how honest you are in your reviews! I’ve never stayed in a hostel and, honestly, the idea is still intimidating to me. But Banana’s Adventures sounds pretty fun!
    Sky recently posted..In Which Sky Attempts to Learn Spanish…Again.

    • Alex
      November 15 2013

      I’d recommend easing your way in with private rooms, Sky! You get all the comforts of a hotel (well, most) but with the social and budget bonuses of a hostel. You’ll be hooked in no time 🙂

      • Angela
        May 12 2016

        I’m just wondering for private rooms you were mentioning about $30. If I’m traveling with my boyfriend is that $30 per person or for the room?

        • Alex
          May 18 2016

          That is the full price for the room.

  • Katherine
    November 15 2013

    Hi Alex! Will be hopping on a night bus from Cusco tonight going to Arequipa, guess will miss the chance to grab a hot chocolate with you in Cusco!

    Great reviews as usual! Too bad for me that your Arequipa review is not up yet!

    • Alex
      November 17 2013

      Shame we missed each other! Enjoy Arequipa… if you’re feeling social, head to Wild Rover 🙂

  • Rachel of Hippie in Heels
    November 15 2013

    Great reviews! I love hostels as a solo traveler. That was the hardest part for me when I first came to India. I found guesthouses nicer/ cozier but harder to meet people. Hope you are enjoying your trip!
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..9 Tips for Saving Money toward Travel

    • Alex
      November 17 2013

      That’s the same issue in Southeast Asia! Guesthouses are always cheaper and typically more convenient. Hostels haven’t really caught on quite yet.

  • Rika | Cubicle Throwdown
    November 15 2013

    AHHH! I have my name on the wall at Flying Dog! That was our one ‘splurge’ hostel there. By far, the nicest one I stayed at during my entire Peru trip 🙂
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..“So, like… what do you EAT in Honduras?” – Part 2

    • Alex
      November 17 2013

      So fun! I wish I had known so I could have looked for it 🙂 Loved that hostel!

  • SnarkyNomad
    November 16 2013

    Those look a lot classier than the ones I saw. My experiences in Peruvian hostels mostly just consisted of realizing how much of a crazy party place South America can be. There were people who seemed like they literally never bothered leaving the hostel for days at a time…
    SnarkyNomad recently posted..In search of the best travel pants for men

    • Alex
      November 17 2013

      I’ve definitely been to a few of those so far on this trip as well (reviews to come!) I do like the more social, bar-based hostels sometimes but I think the key is to mix it up.

  • leann
    November 17 2013

    Thanks so much for this post! Im going to those places soon!

    • Alex
      November 18 2013

      Happy to help! 🙂 And more hostel reviews to come, soon!

  • Chris
    November 18 2013

    Ok, you’ve left me hanging in that Banana’s Adventures review.

    Please finish the sentence and indulge my curiosity please.

    “Room tip: Request the upstairs dorm rooms, which have..?”

    Thanks! 🙂
    Chris recently posted..Now where to next?

    • Alex
      November 18 2013

      Argh, thanks for catching that! Just completed the sentence, not sure how that happened 🙂

  • TammyOnTheMove
    November 18 2013

    I really love the look of Banana’s Adventures in Huacachina. This post is really helpful, as I am a bit overwhelmed by the amount of hostels available in Peru. It is good to get an honest review!
    TammyOnTheMove recently posted..The day I ate a tarantula

    • Alex
      November 19 2013

      I know how you feel Tammy! Plenty more reviews to come 🙂

  • Jamie
    November 19 2013

    Banana Adventures little bar looks absolutely adorable. Looks like a nice place to forget about life for a few days..mostly cause of the winery tour haha.
    Jamie recently posted..Compress this – Weeks 3′s triumphed return to running

    • Alex
      November 19 2013

      I’m on my way back there tonight 🙂 I can’t wait!

  • Stephanie
    November 20 2013

    Never saw rooms like this when I was there! Maybe I stayed in the wrong hostels..! Looking forward to reading about the rest of your South American journey.
    Stephanie recently posted..Review of G Adventures Tour: In Search of Iguassu – Buenos Aires to Rio

    • Alex
      November 20 2013

      Do you remember where you stayed, Stephanie? I have lots more hostel reviews coming up soon!

      • Stephanie
        November 20 2013

        Ah I wish I could remember the names but the only one I can think of from Peru is EcoPackers in Cusco. Stayed in a 20 bed dorm. I remember the showers were good and the beds comfy but the breakfast selection was absolutely poor… literally just avocado and bread (by this time on my trip I was sick to death of avocado!).
        Stephanie recently posted..Review of G Adventures Tour: In Search of Iguassu – Buenos Aires to Rio

        • Alex
          November 21 2013

          I actually thought that hostel would be fantastic considering the price and the fact that it was a Lonely Planet pick! I have to say though that many of the hostels I’ve been to have had just bread and tea for breakfast… avocado would be a welcome addition 🙂

          • Stephanie
            November 21 2013

            The actual hostel is nice though, very clean, three computers and good wifi. Great location too. It’s just opposite Milhouse Cusco I noticed, which I think if I were to go back I’d probably try it out instead. I had such a great time at Milhouse Avenue in Buenos Aires – it was my first stop alone and I’d gathered a group of friends in an instant. The staff are also lovely!
            Stephanie recently posted..Review of G Adventures Tour: In Search of Iguassu – Buenos Aires to Rio

  • Camels & Chocolate
    November 27 2013

    It’s funny how South America has so many nicer hostels than the ones I’ve found in Europe, and I’d venture to say they’re a fraction of the price, too!
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..Photo Friday: Hocking Hills, Ohio

    • Alex
      November 28 2013

      I’ve been really impressed with the quality of some! Part II and III will reveal some duds as well, but I guess those are anywhere…

  • Kartik Jain
    September 16 2016

    Hostels in Peru were definitely one of the highlights of my trip! And crazy cheap. We never payed more than $40/night and that’s on the high side! The coolest was probably Eco Quechua Lodge in Santa Teresa, which felt like a treehouse in the middle of the jungle.

    • Alex
      September 17 2016

      Years later I still rave about the hostels in Peru… I haven’t been to a country with a better collection of them! Thanks for the suggestion for next time!

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