Mention the word “hostel” and most people recoil in horror, perhaps haunted by memories of dirty dorms, queues for the bathroom and rowdy backpackers. But hostels have transformed in recent years into some of the best value accommodation around, offering the same comfortable rooms and range of facilities you’d expect in a hotel.
As the credit crunch bites and travelers cut back on their holidays, this couldn’t be a more timely transformation—why pay the high room rates of hotel chains when you can get the same standard in a hostel?
Forget the standard youth and backpacker hostel, the term now covers a huge range of lodgings, from guesthouses to beachside apartments (you can even find hostels in tree-houses and old castles these days!). Many hostels now boast private rooms with ensuite bathrooms, widescreen TVs and even a Jacuzzi if you’re lucky!
The rise of the ‘boutique’ or ‘design’ hostel in major cities, with cutting-edge design, stylish interiors and high-tech facilities, is perfect for those of us that want to be cheap and chic.
Here is a look to the five most luxurious hostels out there:
La Controra Flashpackers Hostel
La Controra puts the flash in flashpacking —a buzzword used to describe the new crop of travelers with more cash to burn, demanding higher standards and facilities from hostels, but looking to keep some of the travel spirit of their dirt-poor backpacker days.
This hostel occupies a former monastery in the heart of Naples, renovated with bright walls and art sculptures placed around the building. The rooms are decorated with offbeat “good luck charms”, from sea shells to coffee pots. Out back there’s a lush garden filled with hammocks. The La Controra lounge bar hosting contemporary art exhibitions and film screenings, a games room and free breakfasts.
Living Lounge Hostel
This hostel is run by the same family who brought the boutique hostel to Lisbon—the Lisbon Lounge has been voted one of the best hostels in the world time and time again. The Living Lounge is no less luxurious, and is the hippest hostel in town.
In the heart of the city, close to the upscale Chaido and the historic Baixa neighborhoods, the Living Lounge is also a stumble away from Lisbon’s uber-cool nightlife.
The hostel oozes contemporary cool—each stylish room has been decorated by a local artist, there’s a funky bar and lounge downstairs and a chill-out Garden Room upstairs, complete with fake grass.
Cape Town, South Africa
Daddy Long Legs
Staying at the Daddy Long Legs is like sleeping in an art gallery. How else could you explain the feeling of waking up surrounded by walls of abstract art? There are only 13 rooms at this independent hostel, each decorated by different artists—be they musician, poet or photographer.
In the heart of Long Street, Cape Town’s most bohemian area, the Daddy Long Legs has the most comfortable and cool rooms in the city, and with a free drink on arrival, you know from the outset that this is no ordinary hostel.
Los Angeles, U.S.A.
The chicest place to “stay” in LA, this hostel is run by former backpackers with a taste for high-end style. With an in-house art gallery, eye-popping colored walls and funky furniture, Stay is loaded with cool extras like a computer cluster of Macs and X-Boxes to play video games in the lounge area.
If you’re feeling peckish, the Tuck Restaurant will deliver comfort food to your room, or head down to the Nip lobby bar when it opens in the summer. Located in downtown L.A., great ethnic cuisine is only a walk away in Little Tokyo and Chinatown. Fittingly, the Museum of Contemporary art is also close by.
This hostel is the ultimate indulgence, offer a luxurious spa break in the Kinosaki Spa resort. For a calming, restful retreat in zen-like surroundings, this guesthouse is housed in a Japanese Style Inn built in the late 19th century.
Traditional but with achingly modern interiors, the Mikuniya Ryokan has three hot spas, filled by the local hot springs that are known for their restorative properties. Believed to relieve joint pain, relax your muscles and improve your circulation, this is the perfect place to unwind, before exploring the neighboring temples or tucking into fresh sushi in the dining room.
Huge thanks to Lauren for guest writing this post. Lauren usually writes for HostelBloggers, the Insider’s Guide to Budget Travel. A frequent flyer herself, she is always on the lookout for stylish accommodation that doesn’t break the bank!
HostelBloggers, not incidentally, is connected with HostelBookers, which is Spot Cool Stuff’s favorite booking engine for low cost accommodations. Many high value hotels and backpacker digs not found through the major booking engines are available through HostelBookers. Check them out on your next budget trip. And, in the meantime, follow them on Twitter @hostel.
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