Hostelling 2.0: How Hostels Are Making a Comeback as Airbnb Faces Controversy
Hostelling 2.0: How Hostels Are Making a Comeback as Airbnb Faces Controversy - The Rise of "Poshtels"
The past decade has seen the rise of a new breed of hostel, aptly dubbed the "poshtel." While hostels have traditionally been associated with barebones dorm-style bunks and backpackers on a budget, poshtels are redefining the concept with upscale amenities, trendy design, and appeal that reaches beyond the student traveler demographic.
The poshtel movement emerged in response to shifting guest expectations and demographics. Today's travelers, including millennials and digital nomads, value unique experiences and want accommodations that are social while also being stylish and comfortable. Poshtels cater to this with chic, boutique-like interiors featuring upscale bedding, luxe bath products, trendy cafes and bars on-site, and sophisticated communal spaces designed for connecting and co-working.
Many poshtels occupy prime real estate in the heart of popular neighborhoods, providing easy access to the destination's main attractions. Free walking tours, pub crawls, and networking events foster a sense of community. Accommodation options range from standard dorms to plush private rooms with hotel-style amenities.
Globally-renowned poshtel brands like Generator, Freehand, and Selina didn't simply give hostels a facelift - they reimagined the entire concept for today's travelers. Guests aren't just getting a bed for the night but an experience driven by design, programming, and connection. Unique property concepts like boatels even add a novel lodging twist.
The rise of poshtels reflects changing perceptions of hostels and their broadening appeal. Hostels are now attracting not only budget backpackers but business travelers, families, and couples seeking affordable but Instagram-worthy digs. Solo travelers are drawn to the built-in community. And digital nomads leverage hostels as cost-effective co-living and co-working bases.
What else is in this post?
- Hostelling 2.0: How Hostels Are Making a Comeback as Airbnb Faces Controversy - The Rise of "Poshtels"
- Hostelling 2.0: How Hostels Are Making a Comeback as Airbnb Faces Controversy - Hostels Offer Community and Shared Experiences
- Hostelling 2.0: How Hostels Are Making a Comeback as Airbnb Faces Controversy - Hostels Provide Budget-Friendly Accommodations
- Hostelling 2.0: How Hostels Are Making a Comeback as Airbnb Faces Controversy - Unique Hostel Concepts and Designs Emerge
- Hostelling 2.0: How Hostels Are Making a Comeback as Airbnb Faces Controversy - Hostels Tap into the Digital Nomad Market
- Hostelling 2.0: How Hostels Are Making a Comeback as Airbnb Faces Controversy - Hostels Offer More Private Rooms Now
- Hostelling 2.0: How Hostels Are Making a Comeback as Airbnb Faces Controversy - Hostels Focus on Sustainability and Eco-Friendliness
- Hostelling 2.0: How Hostels Are Making a Comeback as Airbnb Faces Controversy - Hostels Provide Local Immersion and Cultural Experiences
- Hostelling 2.0: How Hostels Are Making a Comeback as Airbnb Faces Controversy - The Hostel Renaissance and Rebranding
Hostelling 2.0: How Hostels Are Making a Comeback as Airbnb Faces Controversy - Hostels Offer Community and Shared Experiences
One of the defining aspects of hostels that sets them apart from other lodging options is the way they facilitate shared social experiences and foster a sense of community. This is an integral part of the hostel experience that simply can’t be replicated at hotels or private vacation rentals.
At a hostel, the communal spaces like lounges, game rooms, and dorm-style rooms provide built-in opportunities to meet, mingle, and connect with fellow travelers from around the globe. Travelers often cite the social atmosphere and making new friends as one of their favorite things about staying in hostels. Many long-lasting travel friendships and adventures have kicked off with a friendly “hello” in a hostel common room.
The social nature allows solo travelers to easily meet people and avoid loneliness that can come with traveling alone. Hostels cultivate a spirit of openness as guests share travel tips, swap stories, plan group outings, share meals in communal kitchens, and forge new friendships. Those connections enhance the travel experience with a support network of people to explore with.
Hostels arrange group activities like pub crawls, game nights, movie screenings, walking tours, happy hours, potlucks, and more. This shared programming helps break the ice and makes it easy to meet fellow travelers. Many hostels also organize day trips and outings, providing built-in companions for exploring sights.
Beyond just socializing, hostels provide shared experiences centered around common interests like yoga, sustainability, food and wine, adventure travel, and more. Niche hostels cater to specific communities, creating an instant connection.
Hostelling 2.0: How Hostels Are Making a Comeback as Airbnb Faces Controversy - Hostels Provide Budget-Friendly Accommodations
While poshtels and upscale hostels continue to gain popularity, traditional hostels still have a firm grip on the budget travel market. For many travelers, hostels provide an affordable way to lodge in otherwise expensive destinations.
Compared to hotels, hostels offer significantly lower nightly rates, especially for beds in shared dormitories. While a basic private hostel room may run $50-70 per night, a comparable hotel room often starts at $150-200. The savings are even greater when splitting a 4-12 bed dorm room that can cost as little as $15-25 per person.
These wallet-friendly rates open the door to destinations that may be off-limits to budget travelers staying in hotels. Take London, for example. Hostel rates under $40/night make it possible for travelers to stay in central London neighborhoods like Soho on a budget. The average London hotel rate is roughly $212/night.
Amsterdam tells a similar story. Nightly rates at Amsterdam hostels average $40 while hotels ring in around $167. For budget-conscious travelers, the hostel savings quickly add up over the course of a trip.
Affordability also attracts long-term travelers and digital nomads staying in destinations for weeks or months. When living abroad long-term, hostel dorm rates that work out to $300-600/month allow travelers to keep costs low.
Beyond dorms, private hostel rooms with ensuite bath provide an affordable "budget boutique" experience, often including amenities like breakfast, linens, toiletries, and WiFi. Travelers have called these private hostel rooms a "game changer" - all the social atmosphere and location of a hostel with the privacy and comfort of a budget hotel room.
While backpackers still make up a key demographic, increasingly hostels attract older budget travelers and those with families thanks to expanded private room options and family rooms. Reviewers on booking sites praise hostels for providing "five-star facilities at one-star prices."
The ability to keep costs low while still lodging centrally is a major draw. As one seasoned traveler put it, "Being able to stay affordably right in the heart of the action is huge." Hostels maximize time and money during short city breaks.
Hostelling 2.0: How Hostels Are Making a Comeback as Airbnb Faces Controversy - Unique Hostel Concepts and Designs Emerge
The cookie-cutter hostel model is being turned on its head as imaginative new property concepts emerge to captivate travelers. No longer just a place to crash, today's hostels aim to be an experience with unique designs, themes, and programming that reflects local culture.
A key example is Generator Hostels, which has pioneered the poshtel movement with its trend-setting properties in sought-after locales like Miami, Seattle, and Paris. Far from dreary dorms, Generator's interiors resemble swanky clubs with lush lounges, stylish bars serving craft cocktails, and chic outdoor terraces. Their upmarket amenities and on-site cafes exude boutique hotel vibes, while social events create a carefree, communal vibe. Settings range from heritage buildings to an old police station converted into quirky accommodations.
Creativity shines through in hostels like the innovatively designed Soul Kitchen in St. Petersburg set in a former 18th century palace. Its whimsical Wonderland theme brings fantasy to life with explosion boxes, art installations, secret doors, and an "Eat Me" drink-me cake mirroring Alice's adventures. They've reinvented hostelling as a choose-your-own adventure.
Equally imaginative is Oslo's Anker Hostel with its musical theme. Guests are immersed in Norway's music history through unique venues modeled after cultural landmarks - the Opera bar, Jazz cellar, and Concert hall with live music. This hostel-meets-museum hybrid hits the high notes.
Hostels are also getting active with sports-centric properties catering to thrill seekers. Germany's Superbude St. Pauli channels surfer vibes with a wave pool bar, beach volleyball court, and free surfboard rentals. At Jamie's Hostel in Croatia's Medulin, on-site bike rental and daily tours let cyclists peddle through scenic Istrian peninsula.
Nature takes center stage at Sarajevo's Balkan Han hostel with dorms inside jumping red cable cars on mountains overlooking the city. Overwater bungalow rooms at Australia's Bungalow Bay Koala Village float atop the Great Barrier Reef for immersion in tropical paradise.
Themed pods are a traveler favorite, exemplified by Books Hostel's cozy literary dorms with bunks nestled inside repurposed bookshelves. Guests at Warsaw's Cocoon Hostel sleep like astronauts in futuristic space pod beds. For storybook whimsy, Helsinki's Fairy Tale Hostel has mythic dorms styled after Finnish folklore.
Hostelling 2.0: How Hostels Are Making a Comeback as Airbnb Faces Controversy - Hostels Tap into the Digital Nomad Market
The rise of remote work has fueled a boom in digital nomads - location independent workers taking their jobs on the road. This growing demographic of long-term travelers is right in the hostelling sweet spot. Hostels provide an affordable, built-in community that sets nomads up for success abroad.
Dave Williams (@daveexplores) chronicles his nomadic lifestyle on YouTube with 1M+ subscribers. He relies heavily on hostels for long stints in destinations like Chiang Mai, Tokyo, Medellin, and Budapest. Hostel dorm rates around $10-15/night allow him to keep costs down. The social scene is a lifeline for nomads. At MOji Hostel Tokyo, he describes how the lively common room is "full of people to meet and hang out with" - a godsend for solo digital nomads.
Fellow YouTuber Kara Ronin (@kararonin) agrees hostels combat the isolation of full-time travel. While lodging at Los Amigos Hostel in Portugal, she met "so many amazing people" through activities like beach days, movie nights, yoga, and karaoke. The built-in community and convenience are crucial when living abroad.
Nomadic Matt (@nomadicmatt) explains in a blog post how hostels "help foster a community and homelike environment” digital nomads crave. The communal kitchens, lounges, game nights, and group events make it easy to expand your social circle. At Oslo's Anker Hostel, he became fast friends with other nomads by bonding over travel adventures in the lively common room.
Co-living and co-working hostels specifically designed for digital nomads take the experience up a notch. Selina offers boutique hostel lodging with on-site co-working spaces, community events, and discounts on long stays. Their digital nomad-friendly environments and high-speed WiFi cater to remote workers.
Hostelling 2.0: How Hostels Are Making a Comeback as Airbnb Faces Controversy - Hostels Offer More Private Rooms Now
As the hostel industry evolves, private rooms are becoming increasingly common offerings, even at many traditionally dorm-style properties. This shift towards more private accommodations opens up hostels to a broader range of travelers. No longer just catering to backpackers and budget travelers willing to bunk up in shared dorms, hostels are now attractive options for couples, families, and solo travelers seeking a little more privacy.
Offering private rooms allows hostels to accommodate guests across diverse needs, preferences, and travel styles. A couple wanting their own space on a romantic getaway can book a private queen room. A family of four can reserve a four-bed private room to keep the kids close instead of splitting up into separate dorms. A solo traveler can opt for a single room for solitude after long days out exploring. The flexibility of private rooms alongside dorms means hostels can be one-stop-shops serving every type of guest.
The rooms themselves aim to provide hotel-style comfort at hostel prices. An ensuite bathroom and secure storage for valuables are standard. Plush bedding, blackout curtains, climate control, flat screen TVs, and soundproofing create a tranquil retreat. Some even boast mini fridges, kettles, and patios. Without breaking the bank, private hostel rooms deliver cozy digs.
At the same time, private rooms come with the built-in community of a hostel. Guests can still take advantage of communal lounges, activities, shared kitchens, and social events while having their own private nest to unwind in. It's the best of both worlds. As Paul, a frequent hostel guest puts it, "I love the private room and bathroom but access to the whole hostel. I can be social in the common areas or relax in my room."
The growth of private rooms also reflects hostels upping their aesthetic game. Stylish boutique finishes elevate the experience. Generator Hostels offers sleek, hotel-inspired private quarters with rainfall showers. Freehand Miami's private rooms exude tropical chic with breezy balconies and terrazzo tiling straight off Pinterest boards. Selina's private suites scream bohemian luxe. When it comes to design, hostel private rooms rival trendy boutique hotels.
Hostelling 2.0: How Hostels Are Making a Comeback as Airbnb Faces Controversy - Hostels Focus on Sustainability and Eco-Friendliness
As climate change progresses, sustainable travel has become a priority for eco-conscious travelers who want to reduce their environmental impact. Hostels are answering the call by going green with eco-friendly practices that benefit both the planet and their bottom line.
Many hostels have implemented comprehensive sustainability programs touching all aspects of operation. For Portland's Hawthorne Hostel, the comprehensive Green Program aims to educate guests and the local community on sustainable living. The hostel strives for net-zero waste through composting and recycling. Low-flow water fixtures and LED lighting cut resource consumption. An on-site garden provides fresh produce and herbs for the daily vegetarian breakfast. Upcycled materials like reclaimed wood and vintage decor give used goods new life. Event programming connects travelers with local green initiatives.
Eco-hostels take green to the next level by embedding sustainability into the core of the travel experience. At Hawaii's HI Honokaa Hostel, travelers get hands-on with sustainability through volunteering on an organic farm harvesting crops for the communal kitchen. Germany's dasKultur Creatives Hostel fuels travel-for-good with volunteer programs supporting local charities. They even upcycle discarded bed sheets into reusable shopping bags.
Many hostels leverage their properties to benefit the environment. Costa Rica's Tree House Lodge runs on renewable energy with solar and hydro power. Near Iceland's Southern Coast, the HI Hveragerði Hostel taps into the island's geothermal heating to eliminate fossil fuel usage. Rather than harsh cleaners, they opt for steam cleaning. Select Selina locations let guests swap plastic waste for discounts.
Sustainable hostels translate into savings, too. Energy and water conservation plus waste reduction lower operating costs. These savings get passed onto budget-conscious travelers through lower rates. Reviewers praise hostels like YES! in Berlin for eco-friendly practices that "reduce environmental impact without reducing comfort."
Hostelling 2.0: How Hostels Are Making a Comeback as Airbnb Faces Controversy - Hostels Provide Local Immersion and Cultural Experiences
Staying at a hostel is about way more than just getting a cheap place to sleep. Hostels give travelers a portal into authentic local culture and the chance to live like a local, if only briefly. By their communal nature, hostels excel at facilitating cultural exchange and immersive local experiences that engender a sense of place.
At hostels, mingling with fellow guests and swapping travel stories leads to insider tips on sights only locals know. The social atmosphere breeds the kind of openness where travelers share their favorite hidden cafes, little-known museums, street art trails, flea markets, and more. Hostels often organize free walking tours given by knowledgeable locals. Unlike generic bus tours, these excursions offer intimate explorations of neighborhoods through the eyes of residents. Walking side-by-side fosters personal connections. As one hostel guest remarked after a tour in Berlin, “Our guide brought the city to life by showing us his favorite spots.”
Beyond tours, hostels stage programming like cooking classes, craft workshops, language exchanges, and themed events that lend cultural insight. At music-themed Ostello Bello hostels in Italy, Wine Down Wednesdays pair regional vintages with local cheeses and meats for an immersive taste of Italian food and wine culture. In Israel, Abraham Hostels hosts Shabbat dinners on Fridays open to Jewish travelers and anyone interested in experiencing the customs firsthand. Getting hands-on with local gastronomy and traditions forges memorable connections that mass tourism attractions can’t replicate.
Hostel staff also share inside knowledge that enhances cultural discovery. A receptionist in Prague may suggest stopping by a hidden Communist-era museum. The hostel barista in Mexico City could point you towards smile-inducing street art. Conversations with staff who call the area home uncover stories and sights not listed in guidebooks. As Kevin who stayed at Little Havana Hostel in Miami noted, “The staff gave awesome recommendations that let us experience the neighborhood’s Cuban culture.”
Beyond fostering social and informational exchanges, hostels themselves often repurpose heritage buildings with historical significance. For example, Lub D Hostel in Cambodia’s Phnom Penh occupies a building from the 1960s Golden Era. Original architectural touches transport guests back in time. At MadHouse Prague, dorms and common rooms inhabit a Baroque building from the 1700s imbued with old-world character. Thoughtful design touches educate travelers on local history and identity throughout their stay.
Hostelling 2.0: How Hostels Are Making a Comeback as Airbnb Faces Controversy - The Hostel Renaissance and Rebranding
The hostel industry is undergoing a renaissance and rebranding revolution. Hostels are shedding outdated reputations as grungy last resorts for penniless backpackers. They're emerging as desirable lodging options with broadening appeal thanks to conscious rebranding efforts. This hostel renaissance opens up a world of stylish, social, community-driven accommodations to new demographics.
Jennifer, a 30-something fashion blogger, raves that Generator Hostels made her rethink hostels. She'd always shunned "dorms as dingy dives with weirdos and snorers." But Generator's gorgeous design featuring trendy bars and chic lounges made hostelling seem glamorous. "It felt more like a hip hotel than a hostel." The lively social scene attracted her, too. She met fellow female travelers at the hostel's weekend programming who she's still in touch with. "I expected grubby dorms but got safe, stylish sisterhood."
Jacob, a freelance writer, booked a bunk at Freehand Chicago skeptically. But the hostel's creative luxury dorms blew him away with lofty ceilings, warm lighting, ultra-comfy beds, and sleek bathrooms. It felt more boutique hotel than backpacker crashpad. He loved meeting other solo travelers without the isolation of a regular hotel. "Freehand combines the community of hostelling with sophisticated design you'd pay top dollar for elsewhere."
Parents Brittany and Miles chose a family room at Plus Hostel Berlin for a family Europe trip to stretch their budget. They were pleasantly surprised by how modern and secure it felt compared to childhood hostel memories. Their kids loved having other children to meet in the family playroom and game lounge. "It didn't even feel like a hostel," remarked Brittany. The low cost let them stay longer than pricier hotels.
creative digital nomad Marie highlighted the appeal of Selina Hostels for remote workers. The relaxed, boutique atmosphere encourages connection. She sipped fresh juice from the on-site cafe in a chic courtyard lounge between Zoom calls. In-house co-working spaces with high-speed internet enabled productivity. Weekly community events meant she quickly made friends with fellow nomads. "Selina made working remotely abroad feel effortless."