Top 30 Biggest Hostel Chains Worldwide In 2020 | Full List


Biggest Hostel Chain Worldwide

The largest hostel chain in 2020 has 39 properties across 8 countries. Do you know which one it is?

When using “biggest”, I am talking about the number of properties. Some might argue that the total number of beds measures the “real” size of a hostel chain.

I don’t necessarily agree with that. Imagine you’d search for the biggest gym chains worldwide. Would you want to know how many people they can squeeze into their facilities?

I doubt it.

Yet the same holds true for hostels. Hence, the following list is ranked based on the number of properties.

Alrighty. Let’s get right to the meat.

The Largest Hostel Chains In The World

Let’s take a glance at the look at the full list before we go into the details.

Complete List

No.Hostel Chain NameNumber Of PropertiesNumber Of Beds
#1a&o Hostels3928500
#2Zostel372000
#3Meininger3014700
#4St Christopher’s Inns263700*
#5Nomads World25 n/a
#6Hostel One171000
#7Mad Monkey Hostels151200
#7Generator158100
#9Che Lagarto14 n/a
#10goSTOPS13850
#10K’s House13 n/a
#10Safestay134300
#13Vietnam Backpacker Hostels10 n/a
#14Tribe Theory9 n/a
#15Nest Hostels8 n/a
#15Mad Monkey8 n/a
#17Pirwa Hostels7 n/a
#17Oasis Backpackers Hostels7 n/a
#17MacBackpackers7 n/a
#20Loki Hostels6 n/a
#20Hostels HUB6700*
No.Hostel Chain NameNumber Of PropertiesNumber Of Beds
#21Astor Hostels5n/a 
#21Wombats52500
#21Samesun Hostels 5n/a  
#21Lub D Hostels 5n/a  
#25Freehand41000
#25Bohemian Hostels4n/a  
#25USA Hostels4725
#25Hatters Hostels4n/a  
#25Smart Hostels4n/a  
#30Wake Up Hostels3 n/a 
#30Pariwana Hostels3 n/a 
#30Flying Pig Hostels3 n/a 
#30Clink Hostels31500
#30Equity Point Group3n/a  
#30Gatliff Hebridean Hostels3n/a  
#30Hoppo Hostels3n/a  
#30Plus Group32000
#30Urbany Hostels3n/a  
#30Be Hostels3n/a  
#30Destination Hostels3283
#30Funky Hostels3

n/a  

*not officially confirmed

Top 1-20

Here’s a list of the top 1-20 largest hostel chains. The numbers in the brackets show the exact number of properties.

Top 20 Biggest Hostel Chains worldwide

#1 a&o Hostels

  • Number of properties: 39
  • Number of beds: 28,500
  • Continent: Europe
  • Locations: Germany (27), Austria (3), Denmark (2), Czech Republic (2), Italy (2), Hungary (1), Netherlands (1), Poland (1)

a&o hostels was founded by Oliver Winter in 2000. What makes a&o hostels remarkable is that they offer modern, almost hotel-like facilities in central locations while still offering affordable prices.

Their goal is to increase the number of properties by 2 every year. [Source]

#2 Zostel

  • Number of properties: 37
  • Number of beds: 2,000
  • Continent: Asia
  • Locations: India (35), Nepal (2)

Zostel was founded in 2013 and quickly became India’s as well as Asia’s largest hostel chain.

Almost all Zostels are run as a franchise model which explains its fast growth.

#3 Meininger

  • Number of properties: 30
  • Number of beds: 14,700
  • Continent: Europe
  • Locations: Germany (13), Austria (4), Italy (3), Netherlands (2), Belgium (2), France (2), Hungary (1), Copenhagen (1), England (1), Russia (1)

Meininger was founded in 1999 and calls itself a “hybrid hotel” since it offers budget hotels with hostel-like facilities.

Their hostels differentiate themselves through high-quality furnishings and modern accommodations.

#4 St Christopher’s Inns

  • Number of properties: 26
  • Number of beds: 3,700*
  • Continent: Europe
  • Locations: England (10), Germany (3), Netherlands (3), Edinburgh (2), France (2), Wales (1), Interlaken (1), Spain (1), Belgium (1), Denmark (1), Czech Republic (1)

St Christopher’s Inns is managed by a young & dynamic team. Their focus lies on fun, value, and safety.

#5 Nomads World

  • Number of properties: 25
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Oceania
  • Locations: Australia (15), New Zealand (10)

Nomads World was founded by Richard McLeod in 1994 and is now the largest hostel chain in Oceania.

In 2015, Nomads World bought the second biggest hostel chain in Oceania called “Base”. They now operate under the umbrella of Nomads, too.

#6 Hostel One

  • Number of properties: 17
  • Number of beds: 1,000
  • Continent: Europe
  • Locations: Spain (8), Czech Republic (3), England (2), Hungary (2), Portugal (1), Poland (1)

Hostel One has many properties in Spain and concentrates on the community-aspect.

One of their lodges “Hostel One Paralelo” was awarded #9 best hostel worldwide by TheHostelHelper with an average review score of 9,61 across all online travel agencies.

Hostel One also has one of the most sophisticated hostel websites I’ve ever seen in the industry. Click HERE to have a look.

#7 Mad Monkey Hostels

  • Number of properties: 13
  • Number of beds: 1,200
  • Continent: Asia, Oceania
  • Locations: Cambodia (4), Philippines (4), Thailand (2), Indonesia (1), Laos (1), Australia (1)

Mad Monkey hostels have a quite unique and altruistic approach. They focus on socially-responsible, fun and design-led properties that not only serve guests but also the local community.

On top of that, they have their own projects to bring clean water to rural areas and help kids to get access to education.

Since 2019, they are known as “Mad Monkey” (removed the Hostels).

The reason: “Since our accommodation options also have delicious onsite restaurants and bars, incredibly day tours, and engaging nighttime events. In other words, we are so much more than a hostel chain!” – Kelly, Marketing Manager

#7 Generator

  • Number of properties: 15
  • Number of beds: 8,100*
  • Continent: Europe, North America
  • Locations: Germany (3), USA (2), Spain (2), Italy (2), England (1), Netherlands (1), Denmark (1), Ireland (1), France (1), Sweden (1)

Generator was founded by the siblings Louise and Kingsley Duffy in 1995.

What separates them from other hostels is that they have hybrid properties, i.e. hotel and hostel aspects combined. They also give extra attention to their design.

#9 Che Lagarto

  • Number of properties: 14
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: South America
  • Locations: Brazil (11), Peru (1), Uruguay (1), Argentina (1)

Che Lagarto was founded in 1997 and is the largest hostel chain in South America while having their stronghold in Brazil.

#10 goSTOPS

  • Number of properties: 13
  • Number of beds: 850
  • Continent: Asia
  • Locations: India (13)

goSTOPS is India’s second-largest hostel chain and was founded in 2013.

#10 K’s House

  • Number of properties: 13
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Asia
  • Locations: Japan (13)

K’s house was founded in 2003 and is exclusively present in Japan.

Besides accommodating travelers, they are also active in various charitable organizations.

#10 Safestay

  • Number of properties: 13
  • Number of beds: 4,300
  • Continent: Europe
  • Locations: England (3), Spain (3), Scotland (1), Germany (1), Italy (1), Austria (1), Portugal (1), Czech Republic (1), Belgium (1)

Safestay opened its first hostel in 2014 is growing rapidly ever since.

On their website, they make it clear to investors that they want to continue growing at a fast pace.

#13 Vietnam Backpacker Hostels

  • Number of properties: 10
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Asia
  • Locations: Vietnam (10)

Vietnam Backpacker Hostels was founded in 2004 by two Aussies based on the idea of: “Let’s make a place where we’d want to stay.”

#14 Tribe Theory

  • Number of properties: 9
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Asia, Europe
  • Locations: India (3), Indonesia (1), Singapore (1), Myanmar (1), Estonia (1), Philippines (1), Portugal (1)

Tribe theory has an incredibly enticing USP – at least from my perspective: They cater to digital nomads, traveling startups, and entrepreneurs. They don’t call themselves a “hostel” but rather a “global entrepreneurial ecosystem”.

I’ll visit one of their hostels in a few months and I can’t wait to experience the entrepreneurial spirit first-hand.

#15 Nest Hostels

  • Number of properties: 8
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Asia, Europe
  • Locations: Spain (6), Caribbean (2)

 Nest Hostels was founded in 2004 by Moises Margaix Beltran.

#15 Mad Monkey

  • Number of properties: 8
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Oceania
  • Locations: Australia (8)

Mad Monkey is NOT the same as Mad Monkey Hostels.

This hostel chain was founded by best friends Peter Mcleay & John Paull who’ve been traveling the world.

#16 Pirwa Hostels

  • Number of properties: 7
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: South America
  • Locations: Peru (7)

Pirwa Hostels was founded in 2007 and offers a franchise model to work under their brand name.

#17 Oasis Backpackers Hostels

  • Number of properties: 7
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Europe, North America
  • Locations: Spain (5), Caribbean (1), Portugal (1)

What separates Oasis Backpacker Hostels is that they are designed to make it feel more like a home rather than a hostel. They concentrate on making their guests feel like they’re actually living in the city.

#17 MacBackpackers

  • Number of properties: 7
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Europe
  • Locations: Scotland (7)

Besides accommodation, MacBackpackers offers various trips and even have their own online shop to buy branded clothes.

#20 Loki Hostels

  • Number of properties: 6
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Argentina
  • Locations: Peru (4), Argentina (1), Bolivia (1)

Loki Hostels was founded in 2005 by 3 traveler friends who started their first hostel due to the struggles they’ve experienced during their travels: “Our aim was to create a place that we would love to stay in.”

#20 Hostels HUB

  • Number of properties: 6
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Europe
  • Locations: Portugal (6)

Top 21-30

Here’s a list of the top 21-30 hostels. Note that the scale changed.

Top 21-30 Biggest Hostel Chains Worldwide

#21 Astor Hostels

  • Number of properties: 5
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Europe
  • Locations: England (5)

#21 Wombats

  • Number of properties: 5
  • Number of beds: 2,500*
  • Continent: Europe
  • Locations: Germany (1), Austria (1), England (1), Hungary (1), Italy (1)

#21 Samesun Hostels

  • Number of properties: 5
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: North America
  • Locations: Canada (4), USA (1)

Samesun hostels is the largest hostel chain in North America. 

#21 Lub D Hostels

  • Number of properties: 5
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Asia
  • Locations: Thailand (3), Cambodia (1), Philippines (1)

#25 Freehand

  • Number of properties: 4
  • Number of beds: 1,000*
  • Continent: North America
  • Locations: USA (4)

#25 Bohemian Hostels

  • Number of properties: 4
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Europe, Africa
  • Locations: Czech Republic (3), Ghana (1)

#25 USA Hostels

  • Number of properties: 4
  • Number of beds: 725
  • Continent: North America
  • Locations: USA (4)

#25 Hatters Hostels

  • Number of properties: 4
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Europe
  • Locations: England (4)

#25 Smart Hostels

  • Number of properties: 4
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Europe
  • Locations: England (4)

#30 Wake Up Hostels

  • Number of properties: 3
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Europe
  • Locations: Australia (3)

#30 Pariwana Hostels

  • Number of properties: 3
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: South America
  • Locations: Peru (2), Chile (1)

#30 Flying Pig Hostels

  • Number of properties: 3
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Europe
  • Locations: Netherlands (3)

#30 Clink Hostels

  • Number of properties: 3
  • Number of beds: 1,500
  • Continent: Europe
  • Locations: England (2), Netherlands (1)

#30 Equity Point Group

  • Number of properties: 3
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: North America, Africa
  • Locations: USA (2), Morocco (1)

#30 Gatliff Hebridean Hostels

  • Number of properties: 3
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Europe
  • Locations: Scotland (3)

#30 Hoppo Hostels

  • Number of properties: 3
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Europe
  • Locations: Scotland (3)

#30 Plus Group

  • Number of properties: 3
  • Number of beds: 2,000*
  • Continent: Europe
  • Locations: Germany (1), Czech Republic (1), Italy (1)

#30 Urbany Hostels

  • Number of properties: 3
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Europe
  • Locations: Spain (2), England (1)

#30 Be Hostels

  • Number of properties: 3
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Europe
  • Locations: Spain (3)

#30 Destination Hostels

  • Number of properties: 3
  • Number of beds: 283
  • Continent: Europe
  • Locations: Portugal (3)

#30 Funky Hostels

  • Number of properties: 3
  • Number of beds: n/a
  • Continent: Europe, Oceania
  • Locations: England (2), New Zealand (1)

Hostel Networks

Hostel networks work quite differently compared to hostel chains. Pretty much every hostel can join or leave networks while still being completely independent. It works like a membership.

However, sometimes you as a hostel owner have to meet certain criteria or pay a fee to join these networks.

By far the largest hostel network is the non-profit association “Hostelling International”. More than 4,000 hostels in over 85 countries are part of this network.

Hostelling International Network

Other well-known hostel networks are “YHA” in (worldwide) and “Selina” in South America.

The main benefit for hostels is that these platforms have large marketing budgets and provide another opportunity to receive direct bookings with their integrated booking engine.

However, hostel travelers benefit from these networks, too. Oftentimes, they receive special deals and discounts through a membership model.

Key Takeaway

While looking at the total number of properties you might wonder: “Really? And that’s all?”

After all, other lodging industries have grown MUCH larger chains:

The Top 10 Largest Hotel Chains

Top 10 Biggest Hotel Chains Worldwide

In other words: The biggest hotel chain has more than 207 x the locations than the biggest hostel chain!

The Top 10 Largest Motel Chains

Top 10 Largest Motel Chains Worldwide

Put it this way: The largest motel chain has more than 36 x the locations than the largest hostel chain!

So, what does that mean for us?

We’re still in the infancy stage!
The extreme growth phase is yet to come.

Industry growth follows always the same pattern:

  • #1 Infancy: It’s growing slowly and few know about the opportunity.
  • #2 Growth: Exponential growth takes place as more and more jump on the train.
  • #3 Maturity: The growth mitigates either naturally (through market saturation) or artificially (through regulations).
  • #4 Decline: The industry is declining due to better available opportunities.

What differentiates industries though is…

  • a) how fast they go through these stages (trends vs. long-term opportunities) and
  • b) what impact they have (barely known vs. 24/7 in media).

Since hostels solve a basic need for accommodation, it’s safe to say that this industry is going to have a loooong growth and maturity stage.

The following chart shows the stages of industry growth. The red dot symbolizes where we currently are.

Hostel Growth Stages / Current Industry

A decade ago, none of the hostel chains mentioned above had more than 10 properties! However, I expect to see chains with more than a hundred properties by 2030.

STOP! 🤚

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Kevin

Kevin is the founder of TheHostelHelper and a former German engineer in his late twenties. In the middle of his grad school studies, he started a consulting business and broke several branch records within the first six months… until he finally quit this venture to pursue his passion for hostels. Kevin is known for his super black humor – yet, super black might still be an understatement. He also LOVES dogs and drinks too much coffee. When he’s not obsessing about hostel topics you’re likely to find him at the gym – where the heavy weights are.

18 thoughts on “Top 30 Biggest Hostel Chains Worldwide In 2020 | Full List

  1. Thanks for mentioning our hostel.
    It’s interesting to see that hotel and motel chains are that big. That makes me confident that there’s still plenty of room to grow =)

  2. Oh wow. I didn’t know that hotels and even motels are that much bigger than hostel chains! That really makes me confident in our future.

    1. I thought the same. However, I feel like that kind of represents one crucial aspect of the hostel industry: its level of personality and individuality.

  3. Thanks for including the USA Hostels chain on your list! We opened our first one in San DIego nearly 25 years ago, so it’s great to see hostels growing in Northern America.

  4. Hi Kevin,
    thanks for the listing.
    I’m convinced that as soon as investors see the profitability of a well-run hostel, there will be new and even larger chains in a matter of years.
    Happy New Year!

  5. Hi Kevin,
    great article!
    I think you forgot the hostel chain “YHA”. It’s quite popular here in Australia and I think there are also some hostels in New Zealand, too.
    Cheers, Nils

    1. Hi Nils,
      thanks for your feedback!
      YHA is listed under hostel networks. Since they allow any hostel to join and leave their network while still being independently owned and managed, it’s not considered a “real” chain.
      – Kevin

  6. Hi, I thought Flying Pig and St. Christophers were the same. Also, Selina bought Hatters, a few years ago now. Cool article!

  7. Abraham Hostels in Israel operates 3 hostels with a total of 750 beds, and were about to open a 4th hostel in Eilat before COVID-19 started…

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