Forget what you think you know about hostels. Hostel guru Kash Bhattacharya reveals five hostels well worth going out of your way to find
Hostels ain't what they used to be. Besides stylishly designed dorm rooms with pod beds that have privacy curtains, individual reading lights and power sockets, you can expect a range of cool facilities in these hostels which can vary from a swimming pool, an indoor cinema or even a private meditation room. It’s no longer about just about a bed and a cheap night's sleep. Hostels are upping their game and offering guests a real home away from home, a real experience.
Here are five great luxury hostels for you to check-out that are outside the norm and off the beaten track.
If you’re looking to go off piste on a budget but in style, look no further than the Loft Mountain Hostel, a ski hostel in the picturesque ski resort town of Bourg St Maurice, 800 metres above sea level in the Les Arcs mountain range. With direct connections to Bourg St Maurice from London via Eurostar, it’s within easy reach. The hostel is just a few minutes walk from the station. Ski lift is just 500 metres away.
The place is impressively geared with its target customer in mind: At the entrance before you enter the hostel there is a handy drying room for your boots and gloves plus there is also a skitech on hand in case you forget to wax your board before you come out. The Loft has the feeling you’ve been welcomed into someone’s home – very spacious and snug.
The hostel is on two levels and rooms up to 15 people. No bunk beds. It is large enough for you to hang out with everyone in the large communal kitchen and living areas, if you wish to seek privacy there is a quiet chill-out area upstairs.
Charley, a snowboard enthusiast is a great host with a big smile and awesome tips like where to find the best stone-baked pizzas in town. The kitchen is very impressive for the size of the hostel with all the cutlery you need and also a large fridge-freezer to store your food.
From €22 a night.
Dream Hostel is the perfect blend of excellent Finnish hospitality and design philosophy. The palette of blue and white colours lends to the hostel interiors a dreamy, happy feel. Staff are friendly and armed with tips of the best of what Tampere can offer.
The best feature of the hostel is the kitchen-cum-common-room where guests can reconnect with friends and family on their smartphones or tablets using the hostel’s excellent free wifi. Relax on the sofa, leaf through the excellent library of travel literature to plan your daily travels. Help yourself to unlimited free refills of the hostel’s excellent Columbian-grinded coffee from the filter coffee machine.
Rooms have big heavy doors and thick walls which means a good night’s sleep is guaranteed. Beds are comfortable and come equipped with discreet reading lights and power sockets. Shared toilets and showers facilities are plentiful and spotless. Other notable perks for guests include the offer of free popcorn when it rains (which it does a lot in Tampere, so your chances are good) or on a Friday night. You have the option of renting bikes from the hostel to explore the city and the great Finnish outdoors.
From €22 a night.
Interlaken is the ultimate adventure playground of Europe, ideal for travellers who are looking for a holiday packed with thrilling outdoor activities. Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof is perfectly located inbetween the city’s two train stations in Hohematte and a big green space you can see the paragliders land.
This hostel is a blend of old and new – you can choose to stay in the old chalet or the modern new extension. I recommend booking their Jungfrau rooms which offer spectacular views of one of the most emblematic sights of the Swiss Alps.
For a large hostel, it has quite an intimate atmosphere with plenty of shared spaces to choose from like the large common room with its beautiful parquet floors, big plasma screen TV and 100+ movie library to choose from. Alternatively you can relax in the more zen-like Meditation Room with its library of inspirational books at the top of the chalet.
Guests can save money and take advantage of the hostel’s large, well-equipped kitchen. If the weather is nice, there is an outdoor patio where you can drink in the views and enjoy your meal. The hostel can help book adventure activities for guests and also offers a card that gives them free access to the local swimming pool, use of local public transport and offers discounts on local restaurants.
From €31 a night.
Winding my way to Capel Curig from picturesque Betws-y-Coed, the mist shrouded Moel Siabod mountain looming in the distance, coming to Plas Curig Hostel felt like entering a different world. The interiors are warm, beautiful and like something out of an Ikea catalogue but far better.
It rained most of the time I was there but I had no reason to complain. I was snug in their lounge room by the log burning stove, staring out of the broad bay windows, cup of tea in hand, enjoying the floating mist above the mountains and the soothing sound of the nearby River Llugwy. It’s hard to think of dorms and luxury in the same breath but Plas Curig offer exactly that: built in wooden bunk beds come (great for tall people) with private fitted curtains, power point and reading light. Beds are made up before arrival and come with woollen blankets and fluffy duvets – Welsh hospitality at its best.
Staff are on hand to give you tips for finding the best hiking trails and offer guided walks of the area, wildlife tours for as little as £8.50 per person. You have a drying room for hanging up your waterproofs, excellent free wifi, self-catering facilities plus an excellent pub, Bryn Tyrch Inn next door. What more could you want?
Beds in dorm start from £22.50, Doubles from £50 per room, per night.
Formerly an 18th century villa, the Gallery Hostel was born out of the unique idea of creating a modern, design hostel that could also function as an art gallery. Twice a month, the hostel opens its doors to the public and showcases the works of local artists. Guests can choose from private and shared rooms with great views of the city and they often come with a balcony.
The hostel boasts its own private bar for guests where they can sample their ace port tonic cocktails and later dive into the living room where they host live music concerts, movie nights and also allows guests to enjoy their own private karaoke sessions with friends. The hostel also has an in-house chef who helps prepare a fantastic breakfast buffet and three-course dinners for as little as €10 (including a bottle of wine). Guests are treated to traditional Portuguese dishes like Caldo Verde and Arroz de Pato. The hostel uses local, organic products and offers vegetarian meals on request.
If you are looking to get off-the-beaten-track and explore the surrounding Douro valley, the hostel offers a range of excellent guided tours.
From €20 a night.
For more information about Europe's coolest hostels, download Kash's free e-book, Luxury Hostels of Europe, from the BudgetTraveller.org You can also follow Kash on Twitter (twitter.com/BudgetTraveller) Facebook (Facebook.com/BudgetTraveller) and Instagram (Instagram.com/BudgetTraveller)