HostelBookers Awards for Excellence 2010: Africa’s Top Hostels Revealed

The following post is about the 2010 awards but you can read the latest results from HostelBookers Awards for Excellence 2011 including:
Best Hostels in Europe
Best Hostels in North America
Best Hostels in Oceania

Over the past six weeks we’ve been taking a closer look at the winners from the HostelBookers Awards for Excellence continent by continent.

In that time we’ve looked at some fantastic hostels in some of our most popular travel destinations including Lisbon’s Travellers House and New York’s Times Square Hostel.

This week, in our final blog on this year’s hostel award winners, we take a look at the best hostels Africa has to offer.

Africa is home to some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery and is popular among budget and well-to-do travelers alike thanks to its amazing cultural heritage, safari opportunities and fantastic weather all year round.

Cape Town in South Africa, one of this year’s FIFA World Cup venues, and the ever popular backpacker destination of Marrakech in Morocco both feature hostels that won Africa’s awards this year along with hostels in Kenya and Tanzania.

Check out all the winers below…


Riad Zahraa GuestHouse

Meknes, Morocco

Overall Rating: 98%

Located in one of the oldest quarters of the medina, in the heart of Meknes Medina, it’s easy to see why Riad Zahara GuestHouse made it into the top 3 hostels overall.

The Riad is a charming guest house with unbeatable views of the town from its roof-top terrace and architecture to die for.

The alley entrance leads into a stunning grand courtyard, with Islamic arches and original carved woods blending beautifully with the tiled floors decked out in Berber rugs and antique Moroccan furniture.

At the ground floor, the courtyard opens into two rooms and two suites; with a further two rooms at the first floor. There is also a douiriya – a small house with a spacious salon, three rooms and a bathroom- perfect for a family or small groups of friends.

“This is one of the best places I have ever stayed! The hotel is beautiful, mosaics, beautiful paintings, wood carvings, the carpets; all are beautiful. The rooms were nice, comfortable and the garden area below was even better. We met some wonderful people at the hotel, the staff was extremely helpful and friendly, the food was great; it was all wonderful! We extended our stay by one night and will be coming back again in a few days to stay here. The owner and manager were so helpful and showed us around the medina. I highly recommend staying here.” – Customer Review by Kathryn Zaleski on 18 December 2009

The decor throughout is elegant and simple while the antique furniture mixed and beautiful Berber rugs ensure that the ridad has loads of character and a very authentic feel.

Facilities include a games room, 24 hour reception and a restaurant which serves fine and traditional Moroccan cuisine which includes an extensive feast of tagine, couscous and pastilla.

Add to this the fact that the hostel offers free linen, towels and luggage storage and you’ll begin to understand why this won such rave customer reviews on the HostelBookers website and obtained an outstanding overall rating of 98%.

Fellow Moroccan hostel Riad Jamana and the Luna Hotel & Hostel in Cairo, Egypt make up the top 3 hostels overall for Africa with overall ratings of 94% and 90% respectively.

Riad Jamana made its way in to the top three thanks to its superb location in Bab Doukkala and outstanding on-site facilities like its lounge, bar and restaurant which serves fantastic Moroccan food.

Luna Hostel & Hostel was recommended by an impressive 102 out of 112 customers that left feedback and earned its place in the top 3 thanks to its oustanding rooms and facilities and added extras like free airport pick-up for stays of four nights or more.


Equity Point Marrakech

Marrakech, Morroco

Location Rating: 94%

Situated just 300 meters from Plaza Djemaa el-Fna, Equity Point Marrakech is about as central as you can get in Marrakech, making it one of the best places to stay in Morocco’s most popular city and a very worthy winner of its award for excellence

With rooms available from just €15 a night per person, it is excellent value for money and is a sanctuary for backpackers seeking good, quality accommodation in the heart of town at a price that doesn’t break the bank.

The private rooms are a little more expensive but are well worth the extra money for the extras you get like a fully equipped bathroom and exquisite furnishings which include sofas, cushions, mirrors and paintings.

The staff are extremely friendly and helpful, good location once you find it, the directions are a bit confusing but there always kids to guide you there for a few dihrams for their trouble. A very well run hostel, clean and well decorated. Definately a good place to stay.” – Customer Review by Carolyn Park on 30 March 2010

Guests can also take advantage of the fantastic roof-top terrace which offers amazing views of the sprawling city below. Here you can sit back and relax with a chilled beer from the hostel’s fully stocked bar.

Alternatively, you can enjoy the peace and silence of the Riad’s softly lit inner courtyard which is a great place to share a romantic moment or reflect after a busy day spent wondering around the energy sapping and endless labyrinth of streets of Marrakech.

Rachida, Equity Point’s resident cook, is on-hand around the clock to ensure that you never go hungry, while all the staff are warm and friendly.

Equity Point has put a lot of time and effort into the design of the hostel which shows in the standard of the hostel and is a great place for travelers who are searching for a unique and authentic experience.

235 out of 242 HostelBookers customers can’t be wrong, surely?!

Moroccan duo Hotel Batha and Pension Souika complete Africa’s top 3 for location with location ratings of 94% and 98% respectively.

Hotel Batha is situated in the heart of the Medina area of Fes, just 10 kilometers from the airport and offers guests an in-house restaurant serving local and international cuisine and a large outdoor swimming pool which is great in the summer.

The newly opened Pension Souika is a pretty and traditional andalusi guesthouse that won its award thanks to its great location in the old part of the popular tourist destination of Chefchaouen.


Wildebeest Camp

Nairobi, Kenya

Atmosphere Rating: 93%

Wildebeest Camp is the place to relax during your stay in Nairobi! Its beautiful gardens provide tranquility and are an oasis of calm away from all the hustle and bustle of the center of Narobi, while Its friendly ‘home-like’ atmosphere makes it the perfect place to meet other travelers.

Wildebeest is unique in that it is Nairobi’s first permanent tented camp. This adds to its fantastic atmosphere, giving guests the opportunity to sleep beneath the stars in the peaceful and beautiful surroundings of the site’s tropical gardens in deluxe, en-suite safari tents.

If camping isn’t your thing the site also has a number of private and dorm rooms available at very reasonable prices which should keep even the fussiest of travelers satisfied.

“The gardens were beautiful and our permanent tent was excellent. The tours offered were really good and enjoyable and the included breakfast was really good. The hotel also offered a dinner buffet which we really enjoyed. Overall an excellent place to stay.” – Customer Review by Robert J Irwin on 20 December 2009

The camp is situated just 2 km from the city center with easy access to transport links to and from the city, making it perfect for people who want somewhere that’s calm and peaceful but also close to all the hubbub of town.

However don’t let the tranquil surroundings fool you into thinking that this place is solely for chilling out. During the peak season it can get lively in the evenings, especially in the communal areas. The camp also has its own on-site bar and restaurant and also has a games room and lounge area that are seldom empty.

The camp’s on-site travel office where you can book safaris, airfares, bus, train, day tours, rafting, balloon safaris, or anything else that you might need during your visit to East Africa provides the icing on the cake for this excellent hostel and worthy awards for excellence winner.

Cape Town’s The Backpack & Africa Travel Center and Zanzibar’s ZenjiHotel were the other award winners for best atmosphere, obtaining atmosphere ratings of 95% and 90% respectively.

The Backpack & Africa Travel Center found its way into the top 3 for atmosphere thanks to its outstanding communal facilities like a bar and games room. The hostel also holds regular communal events like a weekly barbeque and pool competition, while its on-site internet café is always busy and is a great place to meet fellow travelers.

Zenji Hotel won its award for excellence thanks in no small part to its Zanzibarian-Dutch owners who try to integrate the best of both cultures with traditional Zanzibarian details fused with Western comfort. This makes for a homely and relaxing atmosphere which is only aided by the friendly staff and beautiful rooftop bar.


Bob’s Bunkhouse

Johannesburg, South Africa

Cleanliness Rating: 96%

Recommended by 29 out of 31 customers as somewhere they’d stay again, Bob’s Bunk House is a comfortable Hostel/Guest House with a warm and friendly atmosphere that is conveniently located just 10 minutes from Johannesburg International Airport.

Run by a South African couple, Bob & Joan, guests can expect a high-class and friendly service at all times. Facilities include a fully stocked bar, swimming pool and 24 hour hot showers.

“Perfect location, hospitality and service. Bob and Joan are the nicest people you will ever meet. Stayed at Bob’s bunk for a night in august and 5 nights at September.Had such an amazing BBQ night.Would recommend it to anyone. Bob and Joan, thanks for taking care of us through our malaria lol. Cheers FRAZ-DIV-SAMMY-MOE”- Customer Review by Fraz Raheem on 27 September 2009

As you’d expect of a winner of an award for cleanliness, the hostel is kept spick and span at all times. The communal lounge area is clean, comfortable and bright while the toilets, bathrooms and rooms are immaculate regardless of room type.

Guests get a free breakfast, towels, linen and access to the hostel’s luggage room as part of the price, while the hostel also offers an airport pick-up service.

One of the best features of the hostel is its tours desk where you can arrange trips and book tickets on tours to some of Johannesburg’s top attractions including Kruger Park and Gold Reef City.

You voted Riad Sabah in Marrakech, Morocco and Wake Up! Cairo Hostel in Cairo, Egypt as Africa’s other cleanest hostels.

Riad Sabah scored a perfect 100% rating for cleanliness, offering guests spotless and outstandingly presented en-suite rooms looking out onto a central courtyard. The communal areas are also kept in pristine condition while the decor is immaculate throughout.

Wake Up! Cairo Hostel also won its award for excellence thanks to its obsession with cleanliness. As you’d expect the entire hostel is kept tidy at all times, while the staff take great pride in ensuring that you have clean linen and towels on a daily basis.


Sherief Hotel

Luxor, Egypt

Value Rating: 82%

Sherief Hotel’s aim is to provide guests with as ‘carefree as possible’ and with services like a free and hearty daily breakfast and a free airport and train station pick-up service, it does just that for as little as €3.37 a night.

And that’s not all that you get for your money; guests also get free linen, towels and access to communal bathrooms.

If sharing isn’t your thing then you can ‘splash out’ on a private room for the marginally hire price of €5.39! This will get you a clean, comfortable bed in your own room complete with private bathroom.

“We loved this hostel – Amr, the owner is possibly the nicest Egyptian we have met. At the bob marley they dont hassle you to book excursions through the hotel (although they are offered via a sign on the wall) and are always very helpful if you need anything. The internet is free, the breakfast is basic but very nice and we loved sitting on the roof terrace with a Stella at night time. Would recommend to all for a relaxing place to stay in Luxor.” – Customer Review by Stephanie D’Arcy on 26 December 2009

The hotel offers all guests a number of additional quality facilities like access to a full internet service, fully stocked bar, 24 hour hot showers and an on-site restaurant which serves both local and international cuisine.

One of the hotel’s best features is its latest addition- the Bob Marley roof top café- which is a great place to relax in a friendly atmosphere among good company, good music and stunning views across the city and River Nile.

84 out of 97 HostelBookers customers would recommend Sherief Hotel to a fellow backpacker. When you consider that you get a personalized service, roof-top café and clean comfortable room for less than €5 it’s easy to see why!

Marrakech duo Riad Attoyour and Riad Marrakech Rouge make up Africa’s best value hostels, winning the awards for their high quality services and facilities at outstanding prices.

Riad Attouyour offers guests beautifully decorated and comfortable private rooms for just €17.50. In addition to a room of the highest quality this gets you free towels, linen and breakfast and access to first rate facilities like an on-site restaurant and a games room.

Offering guests a complimentary pot of Moroccan tea upon arrival and outstanding facilities like a beautiful roof terrace complete with shisha pipes, Riad Marrakech is outstanding value at just €11.63 for a shared room and €16.11 for a private room respectively. The views from the terrace are worth the money alone!


Hotel Central

Casablanca, Morocco

Located in the heart of the Medina, minutes away from the Hassan II mosque and the train station, Hotel Central is a newly renovated hotel that guarantees a unique and relaxing atmosphere amidst the hustle and bustle of Casablanca.

The hotel is excellent value offering guests the choice of 32 rooms all equipped with a bathroom, satellite TV, phone and heating for just €14.76.

All rooms are decorated in the traditional Moroccan style combining comfort and authenticity. 18 have balconies and views over the sea and the harbor of Casablanca.

I was terribly sick one day I stayed at Hotel Central. Check out was at noon, but the extremely nice staff at the hotel allowed me to stay and sleep at the hotel for several hours, while the rest of my group toured the city. Also, there’s a great terrace above the hotel. Big fan of this place. You should stay here. Great value for your money. – Customer Review on 7 March, 2009

Facilities include a superb on-site restaurant serving a wide range of quality fare from Morocco and beyond and a coffee shop which is a great place to relax and unwind after a busy day site seeing.

However, its stand out feature is its superb roof-terrace which provides breathtaking views of the Medina and Hassan II Mosque.

Add to this the free breakfast, comfortable lounge area and business center featuring broadband internet and it’s easy to see why this was one of Africa’s most booked hostels in 2009.

Israel’s Citadel Hostel and Old Jaffa Hostel and Guest House were Africa’s two other most popular hostels in 2009.

Citadel Hostel proved popular amongst backpackers thanks to its fantastic location in the heart of the old city in Jerusalem and fantastic prices. It’s roof terrace sleeping facility and free wi-fi internet access also did its popularity no harm!

Recommended by 119 out of 134 backpackers, Old Jaffa Hostel and Guest House won its award thanks to its fantastic setting overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and it’s superb chilled out atmosphere.

Old Jaffa Hostel and Guest House completes our review of Africa’s award winners and also has the honor of concluding our look back at the HostelBookers Awards for Excellence 2010.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the award winners as much as I have enjoyed writing about them.

Don’t forget to check out our guide to Africa on the website and stay tuned to the blog and facebook fan page over the next few weeks for news of our upcoming promotion offering hostel beds for just 20 cents!

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