Hostels

The new breed of hostels

The much maligned hostel has - huzzah! - upped its game. The Sybarite reports on the rise of the designer hostel

Naysayers will no doubt tell you that hostels are synonymous with uncomfortable, germ-ridden bunk beds, shared bathrooms and sleepless nights (caused by the fear that someone might steal your suitcase).

They may have been right circa 2000 but they’re wrong in December 2016. Make no mistake: fast forward to today and hostels - once the preserve of dread-locked teenagers and twenty somethings - have gone decidedly upmarket, proving that it is possible to sleep in style on a budget.

These new breed of boutique hostels are a world away from their predecessors, focusing as they do on quality not quantity. Translation? Expect stylish extras - think fully equipped and, crucially, clean kitchens, complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the property, exhibition spaces, funky art work, rooftop terraces and reading rooms - all for an amazingly economic price.

What’s more owing to their communal spaces, these boutique hostels represent a great way to meet like minded travellers while simultaneously ensuring a guilt free trip: staying in a boutique hostel (most of which are family owned and run) as opposed to a big chain hotel, means that the money you’re spending will go back into the community.

The company that has arguably done more to dispel the image of hostels as dirty, shabby, crash pads for skint students, than anyone is Generator - aka the pioneer of the posh hostels.

Chic, full of character and invariably located in an enviable postcode, Generator (www.generatorhostels.com) is bridging the gap between backpacker basic and four/five star luxury chic. Case in point? Generator Paris - which opened to rave reviews in March 2015 - is situated in the French capital’s up-and-coming 10th arrondissement district and comes complete with a rooftop bar boasting breathtaking views of Montmartre and Sacré Coeur no less for under US$80 (US$36 if you don’t mind sharing with a stranger). In short, Generator mixes the comfort of a hotel with the sociable DIY aspects of a hostel, providing everything you need while doing away with all the things you don’t.

Freehand Hotels (www.freehandhotels.com) is another hot hostel group that’s changing the game by offering first class facilities (read cocktail bars and private pools) for affordable prices. Freehand made its debutin Miami back in 2012 and has since expanded to Chicago, with plans to open in both the Big Apple and New York imminently.

Out of the independent options, The Sybarite has soft spot for Santiago’s CasAltura (www.casaltura.com) which shows that style is possible on a shoestring. Situated in a beautiful 100 year old building, CasAltura is more flash-packer than backpacker thanks to its stunning rooftop terrace, well designed kitchen, comfortable lounge and dining room, satellite tv and friendly staff. The location can’t be bettered either: CasAltura is close to Mercado Central and Parque Forestal (two top Santiago sights) and within easy walking distance of most of the Chilean capital’s must sees and dos. Little wonder then, that this boutique hostel has fast become a hit with savvy Sybarites.

Bottom line? Leave your preconceptions at the door: hostel-hopping around the world no longer requires roughing it….