Rise of the 'Poshtel': When Hostels Get Fancy

May 31, 2018

Gone are the days of uncomfortable metal cots and tattered rented towels. No more slipping gingerly into sketchy sheets - hostels are now stepping up their game, appealing to the more sophisticated jet-setter. The posh hostel (or 'poshtel') is here to stay. With the rise in demand for fancier digs, many hostels now provide high-end toiletries, afternoon wine tastings and sheets with an actual thread-count. Think non-conventional, boutique amenities at hostel prices. With both private and shared options, these hostels aren't just for the youthful backpacker; according to Hostelling International's 2014 Annual Report, 65.4% of their members are over 40, and international chain Generator Hostels notes the number of guests over 35 is on a meteoric rise.

From Miami to Madrid, these are our favourite places that take the hostility out of the hostel.

The Independente Collective

Lisbon, Portugal

Shared 12-person dorms at this Lisbon-based poshtel are $17; private rooms start at $120

What once was built to be the Swiss ambassador's residence is now an adults-only hostel in Lisbon. The decor is fluid and modern with muted colours contributing to the relaxing atmosphere of this art-deco mansion. While this poshtel pointedly has no pool or spa, the free Portuguese-style breakfast, wine tastings and private balconies above a trendy restaurant scream luxe relaxation off the beaten tourist path.

Freehand Miami

Miami, USA

A spot in this chic 8-person bunk starts at $30 and private rooms start at $140 at the Freehand Miami.

Soak up rays by the pool of this restored 1930s art-deco hotel, and sip on cocktails crafted in the James Beard nominated bar, a two block walk from the beach. This hostel offers both private and shared accommodations artfully decorated with bright colours, local original artwork, lush linens, and most importantly air-conditioning. Amenities like yoga classes, free Wi-Fi and complimentary breakfast are the norm for all guests, a third of which are over 30 years old.  

Their Chicago sister opened in fall 2015 and is adorned with dark wood trim and chic private rooms.

Generator Paris

Paris, France

Premium rooms with private terraces at Generator Paris start at $185; private rooms from $149; shared rooms from $38.

The views of Sacré-Cœur from the rooftop terrace of this 10th-arrondissment poshtel rival any 5-star property in Paris. Private terrace rooms come with hammocks, free sparkling water in the mini-bar and toiletries. These touches add a hotel feel that complements hostel conveniences like 24-hour laundry and €5 breakfast. 

If the City of Lights isn't on your bucket list this year, this hip chain has fancy hostels in Barcelona, Copenhagen and half a dozen other European destination cities.


Reykjavik, Iceland

Kex Hostel
Shared accommodations at KEX start at $30 in the 16-bed dorm, they have 4 and 6 bed options as well, and private rooms run from $140. (Flickr, Eric de Redelijkheid)

This quirky Reykjavik poshtel resides in an old biscuit factory with retro accents and a distinctly cool feel. Sip on coffee (or a local lager) in the lofty restaurant or heated outdoor patio, or hole up in rooms with fluffy duvets on a chilly night. Those needing a haircut don't have to stray far - there's a 3rd generation barber in the corner of the lobby in the vintage-inspired Raxtur.

The Hat

Madrid, Spain

The Chill-Out suite at The Hat just off the Plaza Mayor starts at $136 and dorms from $32.

This design-centric poshtel is less than a 5-minute walk from the Plaza Mayor. It features modern, functional design, light and airy private guestrooms and the Cave, which hosts local art exhibitions. The free breakfast buffet serves fresh fruit and hot coffee daily in typical hotel fashion, while the €9 airport shuttle caters to business travellers and backpackers alike.

Bunk Beyoglu

Istanbul, Turkey

Private rooms at Bunk in this posh neighbourhood start at $55; shared from $24. (Bunk Beyoglu Instagram)

Situated in the modern Soho-like neighbourhood of Beyoglu, guests of this poshtel wake up to elaborately painted ceilings, marble bathrooms and free Turkish breakfast. Amenities include hair straighteners, free Wi-Fi and a rooftop terrace with expansive city views, all steps away from the bustle of this chic area.

Slo Living Hostel

Lyon, France

Suites opening to the central courtyard at Slo Living start at $138; doubles from $99; shared from $38.

Sleeping bags are forbidden at this poshtel, which is housed in the centre of the gastronomic capital of France. There is an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet for €5 full of local breads, cheeses and meats. The design is minimal yet thoughtful, as sunshine spills into airy guestrooms through floor-to-ceiling French doors opening onto the shared terrace.

Gallery Hostel

Porto, Portugal

Double rooms at the artsy Gallery Hostel from $106 and shared are dormitories $34.

A self-described "luxury hostel", the Gallery Hostel is housed in a 1906 refurbished home with an ever-changing art gallery. With the kindly staff giving free walking tours of the surrounding Miguel Bombarda neighbourhood, free breakfast and private rooms with garden views -- there's nothing hostile about this poshtel.

PLUS Berlin

Berlin, Germany

PLUS Berlin private twins from $90, shared accommodations from $38.

There are no shared bathrooms at this large central Berlin poshtel. Cool, minimalist design characterizes the guestrooms that come with fresh linens and free Wi-Fi. The moody atmosphere of the indoor swimming pool and sauna will relax even the weariest of travellers, and a lush garden furnishes the large central courtyard in the middle of this Friedrichshain district retreat.

City Circus Hostel

Athens, Greece

Double rooms start at $76 for this Psirri neighbourhood poshtel, shared rooms from $24.

Mid-century furniture, contemporary murals and bright open spaces define this modern bohemian mansion, situated a 15-minute walk from the Acropolis. This poshtel garners all the expected amenities like free Wi-Fi and complimentary continental breakfast, as well as ergonomic mattresses, soundproofed rooms and spectacular views from the rooftop terrace.

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