Hostels in Kampala

Red Chilli Hidaway Kampala

Hostels have been the mainstay of the budget traveler for years. Yet, here in Kampala, they tend to be more than that. Hostels here often host long-term tenants who are here either working on their thesis, in between homes, or in the country for an extended business trip. Because of this, the crowd at hostels tends to be an eclectic mix of old expatriates, weary interns, and fresh arrivals from the Entebbe Airport.

For quite some time two main hostels have dominated the scene in Kampala. Red Chilli Hideaway in Bugolobi and Kampala Backpackers in Mengo. However, other options such as ICU Guesthouse and Premier Inn, have begun to round out the Kampala hostel scene. We’ll take a look at all of these, and give you the scoop on the best place to lay your well-traveled head.

Backpackers Hostel

Located in the Mengo neighborhood of Kampala, is another option that’s been around for a while. The grounds for Backpackers are large and lush, with plenty of areas to camp or simply sit and relax. The lounge areas are beautiful, and the seats are comfortable. They also boast a nearby pool to cool off in during the day. They offer camping, dorms, private rooms, grass-thatched bandas, and self contained rooms. Backpackers also has free internet, DSTV, a restaurant and a fully stocked bar. The pizzas here are amazing, however, the rest of their menu is left a bit wanting.

Backpackers Kampala

Their rooms are clean and spacious with mosquito nets and bedding that rivals Red Chili. Their bathrooms are also kept in great condition and hot water is available as long as the power is on. The hostel offers a number of treks and tours around Kampala. These involve gorilla trekking, climbing the Rwenzori Mountains, and visits to Kidepo, Murchison and Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Address: 3km from the city centre on the Natete/Wakiliga Rd
Phone: +256 (0) 772430587

ICU Guesthouse

ICU Guesthouse is the creation of a Dutch and Ugandan NGO. Of course, anybody is welcome to stay at this large Victorian home, but it is geared toward volunteers from Holland. They have an option of dorm rooms and private rooms, which can go by a daily rate, although, they also offer rates for long-term residents.

Amenities such as wifi, a library, a bar, restaurant, washing machine, and shared kitchen are also available. In addition, tours through ICU Grassrootz low-budget safaris are also available to take you around Uganda. Numerous travelers boast of the great drivers and guides and speak highly of the trips they take.

Their rooms are basic but clean and the rooftop terrace has lovely views and a very relaxed vibe. Bathrooms are clean and the staff is friendly. However, one caveat we heard from guests is that if you are not Dutch you might feel a little bit out of place. A pleasant insight is that profits from ICU go to benefit community projects, which is a decent incentive for spending your cash here.

Address: Bazzekuketta Road, Rubaga
Phone: 0774 338 708 / 0701 100 486

Premier Inn

The newest addition (with the closest location to town and Acacia’s famous nightlife) comes to us on Kira Road near Kamwokya. Premier Inn caters to all budgets, both backpacker and business traveler alike. Their rooms range from dorms to private rooms with en suite bathrooms, and they offer rates for short or long-term stays. The 10-bedroom inn gives off a considerably cozier vibe than other backpacker options. However the Inn still offers wifi, DSTV, a book exchange, art gallery, and, of course, tour options that book through Afrika Tur.

Their rooms are modern, clean, and stylishly decorated with lovely photography, flat-screen televisions and dark wooden beds. The staff is polite, efficient and knowledgeable about the area and is especially up-to-date on Kampala’s art scene. The restaurant is airy with a variety of meals and drinks being served. Breakfast is included in the price of your stay.

Address: 92 Kira Rd, Kamwokya
Phone: 0414 531 636 / 0777 244 871

Red Chilli Hideaway

Located in Bugolobi this hostel has been a Kampala landmark since 1999. Set on an expansive compound, the hostel accommodation includes camping areas, dorms, a variety

of privates, doubles and twins, and two self-catering cottages. There is a restaurant and well-stocked bar. DSTV and wifi are also available. The staff at Red Chilli is friendly and efficient and will likely offer you a variety of trips that they sponsor around Uganda. The most popular trips include a multi-day trip to their sister site in Murchison Falls and white water river rafting on the Nile with Adrift.

Red Chilli Hideaway Kampala

The dorm rooms are clean and spacious but are packed full of beds. The upside to this is that you tend to meet lots of interesting people just unpacking your socks. However, one of the major downsides involves the variety of overland trucks Red Chilli caters to. They tend to pack into the dorms and wake up painfully early. Hearing constant zipping, shuffling and wake-up calls at 6:00am can be off-putting to some. However, the showers are hot and the water pressure is good, which for the budget traveler, can feel like an incredible luxury.

Private rooms are clean and to the point. However, some of them do lack power outlets. If this is important to you, it’s best to double check with the staff before agreeing to the room. The self-catering cottages are a great option for families, well-to-do couples, or those traveling in large groups. They come with a small living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. They are light and spacious and surrounded by lush grass. There is also a small dipping pool nearby where you can sit in the sun, and cool down on hot afternoons.

So no matter if you’re in between homes, welcoming family and friends, or new to the city yourself, you can find a place that will suit your needs. From the average dorm to a thatched roof hut, your options are, well, not endless, but they’re a lot better than they used to be. So rest easy, keep your budget balanced, and enjoy the city of seven hills, regardless of where you choose your vantage point.

Address: Plot 17. Gangaram Road, Mbuya
Phone: 0414 223 903 / 0772 509 150


About Lizabeth Paulat

Hi, I’m Lizabeth, a freelance writer whose been stomping around Kampala for the better part of two years. I came here while pursuing a story and decided never to leave. I’m originally from Seattle and have found refuge in both the sun and the culture of Kampalans (plus I still get the rain when I’m feeling homesick).I’m always trying to unearth new and interesting stories about Kampala’s culture and development and am so exited to have an amazing platform to explore the city with. I hope to bring a bit of know-how and a bit of fun to Living in Kampala. Feel free to contact me any time at