My very first hostel experience five years ago was in Byron Bay. I stayed at the Nomads and it was a strange, but personality shaping experience. I realized I could be uncomfortable in this room with 11 other people that smelt like feet or go with it. And I went with it and it was fine. I survived and I had a great time. That was when I really realized that going out of your comfort zone only makes you stronger. That entire trip for me happened when I was freshly 21 and it really did change my life and perspective. It’s why I’m living in Australia now. With going back to Byron, I of course wanted to stay here again, but I also didn’t want to tarnish the memory. So I decided to try a new hostel, but wow I was overwhelmed with the options. I didn’t remember this many choices from 5 years ago.
Wake Up! Byron Bay
My first week in Sydney I had won a limbo completion and my prize was 3 nights stay at the Wake Up! in Byron so that was going to be my first stop. It was free accommodations so I really can’t complain, but I was put into a 12 person mixed room. The room was huge and my bunk was off to the side so I got some privacy and my own window.
This being my third Wake Up! I knew I was going to be met with the same standard as the others. There were daily activities (Wednesday night wine and cheese mixer, morning Bootcamps, and beach yoga) as well as free surf board, stand up paddle board, and bike hire. The property is a bit out of town, but there’s shuttles running constantly or an Uber back at night isn’t too expensive.
This hostel felt comfortable and given that it was the third location in the brand that I’ve stayed in I knew what to expect and it met all my expectations. I heard they have deluxe rooms with bathtubs ensuite (something I have never heard of in a hostel at the same time would you want to take a bath in a hostel? that is up for debate). There’s also a nice bar/cafe on site. I think this property may have been a hotel of some sort before being converted to a hostel two years ago. The con is the location and don’t get me wrong they do everything to lesson the burden of being out of town, but it’s still there. You can’t walk out and be in town in a few steps. To me because of the benefits this isn’t a deal breaker. I would recommend this hostel.
After my three nights at Wake Up I decided to switch it up and go more into town. The issue was that there were too many options and I can’t really tell you what drove me to try Aquarius over the others. Upon first walking in I was very enticed by the vibe/atmosphere. The front desk staff was super nice and it felt very much like a little community/family immediately.
I was in an 8 person mixed dorm (with a private room attached) with one bathroom so in theory up to 10 people could be sharing the bathroom. We were all on very different schedules and there really wasn’t a time where there was a queue of the bathroom. There was an additional sink/mirror in the open to brush your teeth if someone was in the main bathroom. The people in my room were super nice many of them had been in Byron for a while now. Everything was going well until nighttime. There was a “strict” quiet policy after 10pm that nobody followed making it incredibly difficult to sleep. The second night I upgraded to a private room in the middle of the night because I was completely restless.
They provide free dinner every night (Sundays it’s an afternoon BBQ) and events like karaoke in the adjacent bar. There’s drink specials for staying here as well as discounts at the attached cafe. Unless you want a party hostel (which you very well may) don’t stay here.
After not sleeping very well for five nights I went to an AirBnb for a night of proper sleep. That was my godsend. Afterwards, I had to decide what to do for my last night as my AirBnb wasn’t available for an extension. I was between a really swanky hotel or giving a hostel another go.
Byron Bay Beach Hostel
That entire week I kept walking by Byron Bay Beach Hostel. Something kept pulling me towards trying it and I’m so glad that I did. The staff was lovely from the second I walked in. Everything also looked super beach chic and I found out that they just redecorated two weeks prior to when I stayed. The building is a historic landmark – an old courthouse. They also handed out a free beer voucher to their outdoor bar when checking in. I was booked into a four person room, but ended up being the only one in the room for the night. Everything about my experience was positive and I would have loved staying here my entire Byron trip. I will most certainly be back and recommend this hostel for anyone wanting to stay in the city center.