Monday, 19 May 2014
We've already shown you the UK's best boutique hostels and, for travels further afoot, here are their European counterparts. If anything, they are even more impressive: swimming pools, sun terraces, home cooking, laid back European cool. I'm dusting off my backpack as I type.
If you paid attention to the UK Hostels, you'll remember London's Generator hostel. Well, they've also got equally stylish stays on offer in Dublin, Berlin, Barcelona, Hamburg, Venice and Copenhagen, where this picture of this rather cool communal area comes from. Copenhagen as a city is pricey: save more money for beer by staying here.
Plus is another chain offering smarter than your average hostel experiences in Rome, Florence, Venice and Prague. This swimming pool is found in their Berlin hostel, where prices start at just 11 euros a night. They also have a sauna, offer free yoga classes and, perhaps most importantly, there's a bathroom in every room, including the dorms. Other hostels to look out for in Berlin include the sleek One80 hostel and the Cat's Pajamas, recently voted the fourth best large hostel in the whole world.
Istanbul is one of my favourite cities. However, last time I went I ended up staying somewhere where you needed to sit on the loo to shower. I won't be making that mistake again. Next time, I'm definitely going to book myself into bunk. There are two branches in the city. Beyoglu is in the heart of arty, party Istanbul, situated in one of its gorgeous historical buildings, complete with marble bathrooms. Its rooftop terrace offers the perfect place to chill out with an Effes after a hard day's sightseeing.
Madrid's U Hostel is also situated within a converted historical building - a 19th-century palace no less! Spacious and airy, they pride themselves on their mattresses, apparently worthy of a five star hotel. The cinema room and sun terrace are both also strong selling points, for prices starting at £11 a night. There are also women-only dorms available.
This, meanwhile, is the impressive looking restaurant and bar attached to another of Madrid's hostels, the Ventura branch of Room007.
Seriously, can you believe this is a hostel? It is, honest! It's Lisbon's Independente. Aside from gorgeous ceilings, tiled floors and impressive chair options, this hostel's treats include a beer garden, a bar that looks like it would be at home in the next issue of Wallpaper, and four private suites overlooking the River Tagus. Lisbon is actually chock-full of brilliant hostels: take a look also at the Lisb'on Hostel, Travellers House and Home Hostel, where there's a home-cooked meal on offer every night in 'mamma's kitchen'. And, if you do go to Lisbon, be sure to bring us back some Ginja, it's perfect for making Black Forest gateaux cookies.
Portugal does an extremely good line in hostels. This is one of the double rooms available in Porto's Tattva. Facilities include a terrace, barbecue, restaurant and an aquarium lounge. Only downside? You probably won't be able to get that Kula Shaker song out your head your entire visit. Porto's Gallery Hostel, meanwhile, lives up to its name with its own art gallery, amongst many other delights.
Ostello Bello proves there's more to Milan than designer labels. There's a brilliant emphasis on food here, with a Mediterranean breakfast included in the price, cultural events on offer that include tastings, a 'Italian-Grandma style kitchen' for self-catering options, or the hostel's own bar and restaurant, frequented by locals as well as guest. Relax in one of the hammocks on the roof terrace if all that eating becomes a little too much.
Barcelona's Sant Jordi Gracia actually prides itself as being the first "fixed-gear themed hostel". This may or may not be a selling point, depending on your enthusiasm for talking about fixies in Spanish. It does also provide a cool, chilled out environment, with books, a sound system and even a guitar in its communal areas for alternative entertainment to bikes. Also in the city, Chic & Basic Tallers is actually more of a hotel than a hostel. As the name suggests it's chic (think lots of white with cute, colourful wall sticker embellishments), but basic. They do single rooms, so could be a great option if you're travelling alone and don't fancy bedding down in a dorm bunk.
But what's really got me itching to get on the backpack again is Goli &Bosi, in the gorgeous Split, Croatia. You'll need to learn to love their yellow and white colour scheme (I'm sure it'll look lovely in the sunshine), but it's situated right in the heart of Split Old Town, near the waterfront and this is their De Belly restaurant, which serves 'no frill foods for the traveller'. Well, it certainly looks like it'll be better than my usual 'no frills' budget meals. Prices start at only 20 euros a night.
Visited any amazing hostels on your travels? Tell us all about them in the comments!