Often overshadowed by the epic Galapagos Islands, mainland Ecuador is slowly finding its way on to the South America unmissables map, promising adventurers more than just a brief respite from the long bus journey from Colombia to Peru.
Countless small towns have become backpacker hot-spots, and so there are a never ending number of new hostels bursting on to the scene. So, how on earth do you decide where to stay?
Well, that's where this article comes in.
We've listed a selection of the best hostels in Ecuador along the backpacker route as decided by, well, us - but also by other travellers. No hostel on this list has a bad rating on Tripadvisor or HostelWorld, and whilst they may not all have pools or super cool styling, sometimes chilled artist vibes or amazing hosts are enough to propel a place into the big leagues!
Hostels in Ayampe
Dorms from £12 | Privates from £31
Beautifully decorated (seriously, have you seen the pictures below - by far one of the most stunning budget options in all of Ecuador) and only a two minute walk to the beach, this new lodge is proving popular with visitors to Ayampe. Choose from dorm beds, private rooms or cute little bungalows, with a good breakfast provided for all guests.
La Tortuga Hostal
Privates for two from £38
This may not be the cheapest place to stay in Ayampe, but we'd still absolutely recommend it. Choose from either beach front cabañas or large apartment style suites with both having access to a small pool, a games room, an on-site restaurant and bar. The management here really are excellent and will do anything to make your stay just that little bit better.
Thinking of heading to Ayampe? Check out our guide!
Hostels in Baños
Privates from £17
This hostel is not going to win any style awards, but if you're coming to Baños for an active few days and you're looking for somewhere comfortable, friendly, with warm beds, hot showers and a self-catering kitchen, this might just be perfect. No dorms, but multi-person rooms are available.
Great Hostels Backpackers Los Pinos
Dorms from £7.40 | Privates from £22
Looking to hang out with other backpackers and have fun? Los Pinos is for you. With lots of activities such as Spanish classes, group dinners, and movie nights - not to mention free cocktails on Saturday - there's plenty to keep you entertained. They also have plenty of hang-out areas, and on-site bar, guest kitchen and nice and airy sleeping quarters.
Hostal D' Mathias
Privates from £19
Hostels in Cuenca
Dorms from £6 | Privates from £17
A little further way from Cuenca's centre, but by far one of the most stylish and highly rated hostels in town. Plenty of common areas, and although not a party hostel, is fairly social. They also have a guest kitchen, good wifi and a free breakfast.
El Cafecito Hostal
Dorms from £7
Undoutedly, the hostel with the best view in town. Enjoy breakfast, your evening or an impromptu dance class overlooking the beautiful city of Cuenca. No kitchen but well priced (and apparently excellent) group dinners happen several times a week.
Hostels in Guayaquil
Nazu City Hostel
Dorms from £15.89 | Privates from £50 (twin)
First off the bat - we know this is not a cheap hostel, and certainly, the privates are out of most peoples' budget. However, it's just lovely so we had to include it! Fantastically designed, lovely little dorms, friendly staff and a great location. It's easy to see why this is the highest rated hostel in Guayaquil.
Hostels in Latacunga
Hostel Sendero de Volcanes
Dorms from £6.50 | Privates from £16
Whilst this hostel is not going to win any interior design awards, it may just be the best hostel in town. Set our over three floors, it's rooftop has spectacular mountain views, there's a guest kitchen and lots of communal space.
Hostels in Mindo
Casa de Piedra
Dorms from £11.49 | Privates from £23
Just a three minute walk from the centre of Mindo is Casa de Piedra, a beautiful hideaway replete with bar, restaurants, swimming pool, BBQ and games room. Set in beautiful grounds, this is a great place to relax in whilst the owners organise some great adrenaline-fuelled adventures for you!
Cabañas Armonia y Jardín de Orquídeas
Singles from £8.89 | Twins/douobles from £17.79
Wonderful little cabanas in the middle of a forest - this in an amazing spot for nature lovers who will adore being surrounded by humming birds and orchids or relaxing in a hammock slowly being rocked by a gentle breeze.
Hostels in Mompiche
Hostería The Mud House
Dorms from £7 | Privates from £23
Located a short walk from the village and set around a lush garden, this hostel is a great option for longer term stays. Beautifully constructed bungalows, a self-catering kitchen and very friendly staff make this a popular choice for surfers.
Double Privates from £19
The hostel so good, we stayed for three weeks. Family run with restaurant on-site, it also has a basic kitchen for guests to use. Whilst technically they don't have dorms, they do have up to five person rooms that groups can share. Couples have the option of fancy new built rooms with private bathrooms or bamboo privates. They also do cracking long-term deals!
Can't recommend this hostel highly enough for backpackers.
A little note...
Mompiche is not a town that you come to to party, however if you're determined enough, consider heading to DMCA Hostel. We weren't huge fans, but it's definitely the most sociable place in town.
Hostels in Montañita
Punto Verde Ecological Hostel
Dorms from £6 | Privates from £15
If you prefer a little nature to balance out long nights of partying, consider Punto Verde. Situated up the hill, it has fantastic views over the ocean. The hostel itself is full of handmade furniture with a strong emphasis on ecological practices (such as composting toilets) and a chilled environment.
Don't dig the hippy vibe? Give it a miss.
Dorms from £6 | Privates from £27
We checked out a lot (A LOT!!) of hostels before we settled on Hostal Moai. Located a block from the beach, far enough away from town so as you can get some sleep but close enough to the party that the stumble home is never complicated. Bright, airy rooms, a guest kitchen, a free freshly cooked breakfast and good wifi. Not a party hostel, but attracting young backpackers and surfers means that it remains a really sociable spot!
Hostels in Otovalo
Twin privates from £23
Seriously, have you seen these photos - this place is beautiful!
Originally a stone-built house, it has been fully renovated with locally-sourced wood and bamboo, and all the furniture has been re-purposed. Situated on a large plot of land, it has access to the river and it a stunning place to spend a couple of days.
Unfortunately the kitchen is not for guest use, but they do prepare home-cooked meals for guests.
Hostels in Quito
Dorms from £8
Ever wanted to stay in one of those super-cool Japanese pod hostels? Now's your chance! Set up by travellers who know what's important, this place is super comfy, has a great breakfast for an extra $3 and is super well priced (you can even book one of their large pods for two people and just pay for one bed!).
The Secret Garden Hostel
Dorms from £7.76 | Privates from £21.74
A wonderful social hostel with a brilliant bar, great staff and comfortable rooms. No kitchen on site but they host 'family style' dinners each day, and breakfast is included in the deal. Also boasts a fantastic view over the city!
Dorms from £7 | Privates from £23