A boutique hostel has opened inside a historic 13th-century building in Bristol, England, that used to be the city’s police headquarters. The structure has also in the past been host to a prison, a circus troupe and a group of artists, but now, it has been transformed into a chic getaway with a social message. As part of the YMCA, The Bristol Wing works with young, at-risk homeless people to provide temporary accommodation and counselling.

The Bristol Wing
The Bristol Wing hostel carries a social message © The Bristol Wing

“Homelessness is a massive problem in Bristol, we wanted to develop a model where the commercial side of the business could support the charitable work we do which avoids us relying heavily on outside funding. Our vision was to create boutique hostel accommodation which was suitable for families and travellers alike. We felt that there was a lack of this kind of accommodation in Bristol. We have nine beds for young people who are at risk of homelessness. Our paying guests support the work that we do with young people, which means that if you stay with us you are helping to combat youth homelessness,” Rebecca Jenkins, General Manager of The Bristol Wing told Lonely Planet. 

YMCA Bristol Wing
The hostel has nine rooms set aside where young homeless people can stay © The Bristol Wing

With 97 beds spread over four floors, the hotel is located in the city centre of Bristol. It has a shared meal every Thursday, run by the hotel’s resident chaplains. The dinner is open to everyone, guests, staff and longer-term guests. Volunteers and guests help prepare the food which has been donated from Fareshare, a project that distributes unwanted or surplus food from supermarkets. The chaplains also provide support to young at-risk guests in the form of one to one talk sessions.

Bristol Wing
The building dates back to the 13th Century and was formerly the police headquarters in the city © The Bristol Wing

The hostel also comes with a green message, and has nesting boxes for birds in the roof, while some of the power comes from solar panels. It encourages guests to use the recycling bins provided, refill water bottles at hydration spots and have shorter showers as ways to decrease their impact on the environment. The Bristol Wing also has events spaces that can be hired for different occasions.

The Bristol Wing bedroom
By staying at the hostel, guests support the work that they do with at risk youths © The Bristol Wing

“We have received brilliant feedback from our guests about the hostel, people like that just by staying with us they can make a positive impact on another person’s life. We have many people who return to us again and again drawn to our community feel and relaxed atmosphere,” Rebecca said. 

More information on The Bristol Wing is available at the official website

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