The irresistible rise of the 'poshtel'
A ‘poshtel’ – otherwise known as an upscale or luxury hostel – combines the style and comfort of a boutique hotel with the price and sensibilities of a hostel. And the trend is coming your way.
An ever-increasing number of budget-conscious but discerning travellers expect something radically better than a bedbug-infested bunk in a dingy dorm full of snoring backpackers; they want good value yet sophisticated and unique places to stay – and, in response, some hostels are upping their game.
'A poshtel is a high-end version of a hostel, with a sense of fun, energy and passion,' says Josh Wyatt, the Chief Strategic Officer of Generator Hostels, one of the companies fast redefining the sector.
Poshtels often occupy intriguing buildings, place an emphasis on design, and offer spacious, clean rooms, freebies and perks, cool bars, top-notch restaurants and, perhaps, even a rooftop lounge or pool – and all at an affordable price.
Here’s our pick of six of the best around the globe.
Generator Paris, France
With nine design-led hostels already and two more planned for 2016, Generator Hostels is taking the hospitality world by storm.
At Generator Paris, which opened in February, creative director Anwar Mekhayech’s pared-back interiors are inspired by the ‘cinematic experience’ of strolling through the city; think concrete walls, vintage objects from local flea markets and chic furnishings by Tolix, Jielde and Tom Dixon.
There are dorms and spacious double rooms, some with their own terraces and private bathrooms. The vibrant Café Fabien serves French dishes, burgers, salads and sandwiches as well as regional wines and Paris-inspired cocktails such as Le Macaron.
There’s even an underground disco resembling a Metro station and a rooftop terrace overlooking Montmartre and Sacré-Coeur. Other bonuses are the complimentary wi-fi and in-the-know staff who can arrange anything from a street-art walk to a table at a top-secret restaurant.
More information: generatorhostels.com
Freehand Miami, US
This chic hideaway, set in a 1930s Art Deco building, is no ordinary hostel. It has stylish interiors by design duo Roman and Williams, an outdoor swimming pool, bocce ball courts, ping-pong tables and a lush tropical courtyard. The décor is minimalist, with unique pieces created by local artists. The 81 private and shared bedrooms have desks, seating areas and reading lights.
Other perks include free wi-fi and breakfast, a 24-hour reception and concierge, and organic Dr. Bronner products in the bathrooms. What’s more, the hip cocktail bar, Broken Shaker, was named one of the World’s 50 Best Bars in 2014; and 27, the on-site restaurant, which opened in late 2014, serves Miami-inspired dishes using fresh ingredients straight from the garden.
More information: thefreehand.com
Shophouse The Social Hostel, Singapore
This Arab Street hotspot rebuffs the description ‘posh’, claiming to be a warm and personal ‘indie boutique hostel’.
The 16-, 12-, eight- and six-bed dorms are air-conditioned, with extras such as personal lights, power points and hangers as well as complimentary breakfast and wi-fi. The bathrooms are shared, but hot water, shampoo, soap and hairdryers are provided. Each room has a different theme: those on the second floor have a rustic ‘loft’ feel, with red-brick walls and exposed light bulbs. The ladies-only third floor, named No Man’s Land, is a pink-hued haven. One of the rooms, named Arab Street in homage to its location, has stained-glass lights and a cushioned chill-out area.
Shophouse also has a rooftop lounge, where you can soak in the views and Working Title, a vintage café that is decorated with handmade and upcycled furniture and serves burgers, pizzas, coffee and craft beers.
More information: shophousehostel.com
Space Hotel, Melbourne, Australia
For two consecutive years, Tourism Victoria has named this upscale hostel the ‘Best Victorian Backpacker Accommodation’ – with good reason.
The contemporary, spacious rooms range from eight-bed dorms to en-suites with balconies, all with reading lamps and extra-long Posturepedic mattresses. The private rooms also have iPod docking stations, HD televisions and some have spa baths.
Space is home to an in-house theatre, a gym, a ‘Master Chef-style’ guest kitchen and the popular bar and restaurant, Blue Moon. You may not get complimentary breakfast or wi-fi here, but the magnificent rooftop – which has a barbecue, a spa and a jacuzzi boasting 270-degree views of the city – easily makes up for it.
More information: spacehotel.com.au
Once in Cape Town, South Africa
Here, you can enjoy serious comfort (clean rooms, free wi-fi and parking, a 24-hour reception and travel desk) in a fun environment. Local artists designed the ‘travel-grunge’ interiors, which feature vintage suitcases, old record players and a 1955 Chevrolet pick-up parked outside.
The en-suite four-bed dorms and private rooms have custom-made beds, locking boxes, charging stations and reading lights. Most of the bathrooms have a water-saving shower over the bath as well as an eco-friendly grey-water system.
And this is certainly one for lazy foodies – the options are plentiful: Yours Truly serves coffee, fruit, croissants and muesli for breakfast, and later, sandwiches, pizza and craft beer; Hudsons specialises in gourmet burgers; and Mitico dishes up pizza followed by Italian sorbet, washed down with Limoncello. There’s also a rooftop bar called Up Yours, where you can sip punchy cocktails out of jam jars.
More information: onceincapetown.co.za
Clink78, London, UK
This backpackers’ hub is tucked away in an elegant 200-year-old courthouse in King’s Cross. It doesn’t like to call itself a poshtel, but it’s certainly no ordinary hostel, with innovative facilities and playful décor.
British designer Shaun Clarkson’s bold interiors reflect London’s most eclectic corners. The rooms range from atmospheric converted prison cells to 16-bed dorms containing pod beds, each with its own privacy panel, reading light and locker.
Many of the private rooms have en-suite bathrooms with power showers and complimentary towels, and there’s free wi-fi and breakfast for all. The TravelSHOP is on hand to help or you can download the ClinkSocial app for more insider city tips.
Although there’s no restaurant, buzzing basement dive ClashBAR serves scrummy cocktails and there’s a Stay & Play policy, where musicians don’t have to pay if they perform. The brand plans to expand to five more European cities by 2020; the first, ClinkNOORD, opens in Amsterdam this June. Watch this space.
More information: clinkhostels.com