Boutique Hostels Are Taking Over Europe
Some people have finally realized that staying in a hostel doesn’t have to be a miserable experience – and bless them for it.
A new trend taking off around Europe is the emergence of the “boutique hostel.” Like the concept of boutique hotels, these hostels have some added frills, modern designs and an urban vibe. Plus, they’re cleaned regularly. Ultimately, the best part is that these upscale hostels don’t usually cost much more than the typical city hostel and are still quite a bargain.
Take the Living Lounge Hostel in Lisbon, Portugal. Hailed as one of the best hostels in Europe, the Living Lounge lives up to its name, the ratings and then some. Located in within the center of the city, it was more comfortable and plush than most hotels I’ve stayed in. The Lounge has a hipster-vibe to it, with themed rooms (i.e. I stayed in the “Lomography” room), plus beautiful living rooms throughout the building and a stocked entertainment center. Rooms are cleaned daily, the beds and bedding are well kept and comfy, and the bathrooms are spotless. (I just wish there were a few more of them.) And I did I mention the free port wine for guests?
A little tip: If there aren’t any vacancies here when you want to book (which could be the case if you don’t do this well in advance since it’s quite popular), check out their sister hostel, the Lisbon Lounge Hostel, a few blocks away. (It was also dubbed the #1 European boutique hostel by the London Times.)
Even though the Lisbon Lounge has certainly set the bar above and beyond, other hostels don’t need to go to extremes to please their guests while maintaining high standards. The City Backpackers Hostel in Stockholm, Sweden improves upon the basic hostel model in similar ways to the Lisbon Lounge, like themed rooms, lots of organized group activities for guests to pick from (i.e. sauna tours, bar crawls, etc.) and an overall high standard of cleanliness. Although there are a few of the annoying fees that are customary at hostels (like paying for a towel and sheets), they have a few helpful items for rent, like DVDs and even a city travel card for discounts on the metro and buses. There is a cute public café attached to the hostel, and there is a fully equipped kitchen for guests to use. And there’s free pasta at all times. Who doesn’t love freebies?
Many of these upscale hostels don’t have age limits and are situated close to city centers, only increasing their popularity. Hopefully more hostels catch on and realize that splurging a little more on décor and some cleaning supplies will keep you in business and (positive) word of mouth will spread.
Have you stayed at an above-average hostel lately? What would you like to see changed about hostels that would incline you to make a reservation?