By Madeleine Wilson
Travellers are a curious, creative and passionate lot so a new breed of boutique hostels around the world are demonstrating that cheap chic is possible.
Prepare to be a little dumbstruck by this list of 50 gorgeous hostels fit for even the most discerning of travellers including slummy mummies, need-to-impress girlfriends or businessmen on a budget. See the world in style!
Australia | Austria | Argentina | Brazil | Canada | Chile | China | Croatia | Czech Republic | Denmark | France | Greece | Hungary | Iceland | Israel | Italy | Mexico| Morocco| The Netherlands | Poland | Portugal | Russia | Serbia | Singapore | South Africa | Spain | Sweden | Switzerland | Taiwan | Thailand | UK | USA
Soak up Sydney’s spectacular skyline from the hip hostel roof terrace complete with BBQ and cabana – perfect coverage for any of you who caught a few too many rays at nearby Bondi Beach. You do not have to be a gadget geek to appreciate the charging points fitted inside the personal lockers. And what do we have to say about the funky lounge with leopard print clad furniture? Grrr…
One of the funkier properties in the Wombats hostel chain, this property has plenty of character as well as mod cons, light-filled rooms and a decent bar area. Backpackers dragging themselves out of bed in time for a cheap breakfast is not usually a pretty sight, but their lush dining room offers a pleasant visual wake-up call and the garden theme is the next best thing to alfresco breakfasting.
A purpose built hostel, this place offers backpackers a stylish and relaxing area to socialise with fellow travellers. It doesn’t look much from the outside, but inside there are streamline leather sofas forming a rather chic TV lounge. Daily Buenos Aires goings-on are chalked up on a blackboard and there are plenty of mags to flick for inspiration for your trip.
Located in Lapa – the heart of the nightlife in Rio – Caipi Hostel offers air conditioning in every room, a great common area with a happy hour bar, tv and a lounge area for smokers. They take fun and sleeping seriously here – after 11pm, the party must go on in the streets!
If it was good enough for the Winter Olympics teams in 2010, then it is certainly good enough for us! A roaring fireplace and leather armchairs in the swish TV lounge (think private premier screening room); there is something rather sexy about this hostel-come-ski lodge.
Making squeaky bunks a thing of the past, this hostel boasts the latest furnishings in a bohemian neighbourhood in Santiago. Rooms encircle a courtyard – candlelit by night – complete with bar for drinks under the stars. It has a brightly painted frontage with earthy wooden touches throughout and dried flowers dangling from the rafters.
This remodelled Chinese hutong house surroundes an enchanting Qing-dynasty courtyard. The bundles of flowers and potted plants pleasantly cluttering the interior bring out the artistic side and welcoming temperament of the owners. An absolute gem!
The zen-like garden complete with fish-filled pond and water features is just one of the relaxing spaces where guests can indulge in moments of calm. But come evening, the bar is always lively. Something to do with the cheap beer perhaps? Warm wooden flooring throughout, light-filled rooms and curious framed photos on the walls; this is the stuff of backpacker inspiration.
It has a lot to live up to situated next to the Diocletian Palace, but Design Hostel Goli&Bosi holds its modern own. Once a 19th century warehouse, then briefly a department store in the 20th century, it is now a cutting edge boutique hostel complete with designer bar, restaurant and cinema projection room.
An old favourite on the boutique hostel circuit, Miss Sophie’s offers playful dorms designed by local architects and is tucked away down a historic side street. Spend winter nights snuggled up in the cosy cellar lounge in front of the plasma telly or exploring the surrounding bars.
Scandinavia generally oozes good design with a plenty of wood to remind us of Mother Nature to offset more utilitarian elements. And that is Danhostel in a nutshell. You don’t have to leave the hostel to find a cool or cheap Copenhagen bar. Couples on a city break can smooze over a a glass of red in the dimly lit drinking den which offers fine views of the Opera House and Brygge Islands. All that is missing is the live piano crooner.
Looking for that je ne sais quoi? This design hostel offers budget Parisian chic in the heart of the city. With private rooms, it is also a desirable choice for couples on a budget. And the best bit? Your girlfriend/wife will still talk to you after checking in to this Paris hostel!
Local artists are responsible for this carefully refurbished and typical Marseillan house in the idyllic Côte d’Azur region. There are sturdy wooden bunks, pleasing artworks propped up against walls and delicate Anglepoise lights on the dorm room desks. Something of a dreamy rustic French retreat that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Wallpaper* either.
Overlooking the Ionian Sea and a Blue Flag beach, this luxurious retreat ticks all the boxes for a budget beach break. It is more of a hotel offering a few dorm rooms with activities, a bar and restaurant and is within reach of the picturesque and traditional village of Barbati.
Expect boutique decor at this popular Budapest hostel. And you can forget about bunk beds. Even budget conscious travellers are treated to spacious loft dorms that each arouse a sense of either exotic India, adventurous Africa or minimalistic Japan.
Forget Communist-era Budapest, at this hostel it is all about colourful and striking design with a sociable terrace and bar area. The exterior definitely has more going for it than the interior, so make the most of any fine weather with drinks in the courtyard ogling the somewhat zaney but uplifting paint job.
A new kid on the block, this hostel is housed in a former biscuit factory in Reykjavik’s most lively and exciting cultural quarter. Utilitarian hints of the hostel’s former industrial life remain but the collection of found and salvaged furniture soften the overall effect. It is every inch a design project, and the restoration journey has been lovingly photographed. You’ll find guests and locals alike in the uber chic bar or chilling out on the heated patio area.
High ceilings and luxurious Ottoman-style decor are winning formulas for this 200-year old Arab mansion. Enjoy free cake and Arabic coffee under the hand-painted ceilings and with panoramic views in the communal area. Anyone travelling through Syria, Lebanon or Iraq (and has a stamp in their passport to prove it) can stay for one free night at Fauzi Azar Inn which supports backpackers visiting the Middle East.
If you visit the Siracusa archaeological park by day, you will feel right at home returning to the historic LoLhostel with beautiful stone walls. It has all mod cons including internet, a fantastically fashionable guest kitchen where you’ll be proud to rustle up your own cheap Sicilian dinner and a sunny courtyard with cheerful umbrellas.
Donning a worldly collection of art and curious clutter, Sir Tanus is a treasure trove of interesting finds which you can spend many happy evenings soaking up in the lounge area, perhaps with a nightcap in hand.
Meet Cancun’s trendy neighbour, Playa del Carmen. This hostel is a cheap and chic solution for those shunning the concrete blocks of built-up Cancun. A short walk to the infamous beaches, there are decorative bunks and en suite facilities in all the dorms.
For the riad you’ve always dreamed of, Equity Point Marrakech is a tranquil sanctuary for budget travellers. Plush furnishings are draped throughout all the rooms and surround the exquisite arcade courtyard complete with fountain for the ultimate Bedouin experience.
The beautiful glass rooftop make this an enchanting riad in Fes. The decor is traditional but policies on drinking and partying are rather modern by Moroccan standards with a bar open during Ramadam, iPod docking stations and a Berber Jaima on the 360 degree panoramic terrace with spectacular views of the medina.
Housed in a former school, Dutch designer Edward van Vliet is responsible for the new and colourful interior. The hostel shares the building with a cinema and theatre so you have culture right on your doorstep.
The hostel takes inspiration from its cultural neighbours around Museumplein: the Rijks Museum and Van Gogh Museum. Only a short walk from the centre, those in the know will prefer the cool and local vibe of the De Pijp area.
Situated in the heart of Krakow old town, next to the famous Cracovian main market square, Mama’s Hostel mixes stylish modern decor with old fashioned wooden floors and a gorgeous balcony. Added perks include events every day of the week like vodka tastings or pierogi parties.
The bunk beds are works of art! Multi storey wooden platform beasts are tailor made so you leggy lot can forget about getting cold feet! Splashes of orange and lime green bring together old and new with the wooden floorboards and neutral stone walls. It’s the apartment you would kill to own, reflecting the life of your dream Lisboeta!
Hostels in Portugal are miles ahead of the rest when it comes to offering stylish budget accommodation. And Rossio Patio Hostel is a firm favourite. Housed in the old Rossio Railway Station, the designers have harnessed the historic charm of this iconic building with rooms leading off from a central winter garden with glass roof
Surrounded by the important Porto art galleries and exciting shopping, Gallery Hostel holds its own in this distinguished neighbourhood. Relax on the sofa with a bottle of the fine Portuguese good stuff, or quiz the staff on the best nightlife in the area. You can exchange views on fine art around the dinner table too.
This stylish hostel is situated in the historical part of Moscow on Merzlyakovskiy lane, and combines modern conveniences with wooden floors and exposed brick walls. Go explore the fun area or relax in your room, with windows, heating and decorated in a loft style.
Eat, sleep and socialise in style at this fantastic hostel in St Petersburg. Utilitarian-looking bunks and lockers work well with the twinkling chandeliers and wooden floors. The bathrooms are a dazzling white – just what we like to see in hostels, squeaky clean facilities! Staff have great local suggestions for nearby restaurants and bars.
There is a nook and cranny for every mood: read a book, browse the web in their top notch media centre or throw together a meal for a few fellow guests in the luxury kitchen. The ambient light features are sculptural and there are ample bean bags and cushions for lolloping on. You’ll never leave! But not because you are stuck in Eli Roth’s Hostel horror!
Ooh we likey the spacious pod beds with private reading lights; the almost London mod showers and Skittle-coloured assortment of bean bags in the lounge. this place will leave the gadget-mad traveller drooling. In the neighbourhood you will find niche bookshops, concept stores and a cinema with a rooftop bar – perfect for balmy Singapore nights.
The hostel is fashionably hot on Fair Trade policy and offers guests the opportunity to volunteer to work on local projects. The place is buzzing and the atmosphere was recognised by guests in the HostelBookers Awards for Excellence. There is also a swimming pool and outdoor lounge in the shadow of magnificent Table Mountain.
The local sunset, stunning views over Montana Park and stylish private rooms give this B&B a warming and homely atmosphere. Relax by the heated swimming pool or head out to the patio to fire up a braii (BBQ).
More of a friend’s trendy apartment than a hostel, it has an address to be proud of along the elegant Paseo de Gracia. The hostel exhibits photography, painting, fashion and jewelry and hosts occasional design events.
Don’t feel you quite fit the boozy Ibiza stereotype? Check in to this hostel which has fantastic splashes of authentic and colourful Spanish design throughout its rooms and bar. And even if you do find yourself with a hangover, the restaurant serves up hearty home made dishes.
Pair Salamanca’s breathtaking architecture with this ‘finger on the pulse’ hostel. Aside from its lively decor they feature a busy programme of events; anything from concerts to live sports in the TV lounge. Their koi carp-filled pond in the garden can be enjoyed year-round with a warming supply of outdoor heaters.
Struggling to find economy and style in Stockholm? Here you can enjoy a touch of Ikea design with a few luxurious twists such as sauna facilities. And for you fashionable eco-conscious lot, the hostel does their bit with recycling and energy efficient light bulbs.
Newly refurbished in 2010, this Basier ‘Daig’ was home to one of the well-to-do families of the city. Now a hostel, it boasts a leafy location close to the river Rhine with plenty of natural light filling the minimalist rooms. Concrete never looked so good.
A slick ski retreat located right on the slopes and reachable only by cable car, here you can experience the Swiss Alps in style. Enjoy panoramic views of the Bernese snowy peaks from the bar, best experienced at sunset. This place is perfect for your daily dose of apres ski.
A cutesy accommodation option that may require sunglasses indoors! The walls trickle with painterly flowers, shoals of fish or illustrative pop art-style creations which frame the cheerful white bunks.
An escape from city hustle and bustle, order is restored in this stunningly Bangkok hostel. It may be a traditional old Thai house but there is nothing old about the facilities and features. Relax in the shadow of a Tamarind tree inside or snuggle in to the colourful and plush cushioned lounge.
Featuring gorgeous sturdy wooden bunks arranged in a unique octagonal dormitory, this hostel is bringing resort style holidays to backpackers. And we like it! Modern facilities are softened with traditional Thai furnishings, flashes of colour on the walls and fantastic exotic floral displays. The jungle-like gardens surrounding the swimming pool are luscious and beautifully lit in the evening .
Just two minutes from Lamai Beach, this chic hostel offers a sun deck with mountain views and futuristic dorms and bathrooms. Humble backpackers are treated to private reading lights, socket points, air-conditioning as well as a personal TV with headphones. Female touches in the ladies-only dorms include stylish privacy curtains around the bunks.
Located in the central area of Phuket’s beautiful old town makes Ghetto Childs Hostel the perfect spot to go exploring the many restaurants, bars, markets, art galleries, and temples nearby. Or just chill out in the Ghetto Childs garden or the stylish bedrooms.
As good looking inside as out, this refurbished Georgian townhouse, complete with Rococo ceiling, will add a touch of class to any weekend break in York. Even the dorm rooms are en suite with original rafter ceiling features and views of either the famous York walls, the cathedral or the historic Micklegate neighbourhood.
Bold colours are uplifting on rainy days while sunny ones are best spent indulging in a BBQ on the terrace or hopping on one of the rental bikes. The hostel location is a great alternative to the downtown area and guests looking for a more local vibe can easily stumble on decent bars and student hangouts close by.
You will certainly feel that Mexico is just across the border from this hostel! Bright, breezy and a slap up colourful paint job gives USA Hostels San Diego its hacienda-style atmosphere. Guests will feel obliged to grab a margarita and head to Tijuana.
Well, you are in celebrity-ville after all so you’ll be needing a pad to be proud of. Located right on South Beach, the hostel bar has something of the colonial era about it – picture happy hour with cocktail in one hand, cigar in the other while reclining in the wicker furniture, we think so!
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Add your gorgeous hostels or tell us your favourites in the comments section below….we love to share!