A courtyard on Zagreb’s main shopping street harbours this former dry-cleaning and textile-dying factory, still featuring an atmospheric combination of exposed brickwork and industrial floors. There are some cute double rooms alongside the regular dorms, and the guest communal areas (complete with kitchen facilities) come with exactly the right mix of laid-back vibe and social buzz. But Swanky's main draw is its new 'Swanky Monkey Garden' terrace, which is always heaving with people sipping beers and pina coladas under fairy lights - it's so good that even the locals turn up every night in their dozens. If you're looking for a social stay, Swanky's your best bet.
Initially round the corner from Britanski trg, Chillout relocated to Tomićeva, nearer the main square, in early 2013. The recipe is largely the same: a totally renovated apartment building in an off-street courtyard, newly-installed facilities, and neat air-conditioned dorms, ranging in size from three-bed to 12-bed – the smaller ones can be rented as private doubles if space allows. The beds themselves come in the form of brightly-coloured pods. The hostel’s key attribute is the common room with Wifi and 24-hour bar – an ideal place to hang out and plot your next foray. There's a fully-equipped kitchen, and breakfast is available for an extra €4.
Why sleep in a building when you could sleep in a train? The newly opened train hostel sleeps 90 in its four carriages. It may sound like the last place you'd want to sleep after spending hours in a hot (and probably delayed) train, but the hostel has everything you'd expect from your regular bricks and mortar guesthouse - air conditioning, bathrooms, wi-fi... The best bit for late night travellers is its location - it's right on the rails, so you need not even pass through the station entrance to dump your mammoth rucksack.
This new arrival on the hostel scene certainly enjoys an enviable location, situated in a courtyard opposite the Europa Cinema and just round the corner from cafe-clogged Cvijetni trg/Flower Square. Dorm rooms are neat and colorful, and there are a couple of small doubles too. The groovy downstairs café-bar (9am-11pm Mon-Thur, Sun, 9am-2am Fri 11am-2am Sat) is open to non-residents and has a genuine social buzz.
This striking office-block conversion in a former newspaper HQ offers some of the swankiest hostel accommodation in the region. With a high proportion of doubles and triples, solid beds and contemporary decor, it’s more like a good, cheap hotel than a shoestring backpacker option. Computers on every floor and witty graphics (rooms are labelled ‘secretariat’, ‘import-export’ and other officious-sounding names) play ironic tribute to the building’s businesslike past. Rooms on the northern side have great views of Zagreb’s twin-pronged cathedral. The large basement includes a café with breakfast options and a snooker table. Triple and quad rooms also available.
One of Zagreb's most popular hostels, Funk Lounge tends to attract the social traveller. It's equipped with an ever teeming bar and, unusually, its own restaurant. Rooms are relatively spacious with pared back decor, and staff are always friendly. While it's not right in the centre, it'll take you ten minutes walking or a few moments tram-riding to get to the main square, and if you venture in the other direction you'll reach Maksimir park and zoo.
Fulir, on the north-west corner of the main square, once housed the servants of the square's namesake: Jelačić. Below the hostel, the famed Croatian leader kept his horses. It's been done up a bit since then, and now it's a comfortable hostel with everything you need and nothing more. It's a small and intimate 16-bed place, with a relaxing common room, fully-equipped kitchen, wireless internet and laundry machines. But it's the owners who make the difference; Davor and Leo have a wealth of local knowledge and will likely go out with your group to make sure you have the best Zagreb experience possible. Logically, Fulir has no curfew.