Call it a high-end hostel or even ‘homstel’ – the hybrid term used by hoteliers to describe this nascent union of home, hotel and hostel. They’re intended to connect guests with one another and with like-minded locals over experiences within communal spaces.
Luxury here might come in the form of an unusual experience: a food tour of the city, enjoying an aperitivo with Milanese locals, cocktails in a converted historic train station or something as simple as a spectacular view.
The target market: entrepreneurs in need of fast, free technology, clean accommodation and good but not overly indulgent service. It’s for travellers who don’t want to spend so much time in their rooms but do care about their living environments. The following nine luxury hostel gems rise to the occasion.
The House of Sandeman Hostel & Suites, Porto, Portugal
The House of Sandeman sits on top of a 227-year-old wine cellar in Porto. It’s a collaboration between the Sogrape wine company and the Independente Collective hospitality group.
While the exterior of the historic building has remained relatively untouched, the interiors have been transformed: you get large, airy, stylish communal spaces that still retain faithful architectural elements of the old building. Double-height ceilings, arches and skylights, wine barrel-inspired dorm beds and suites overlooking the Douro river make this a jaw-dropping contribution to the art of low-cost hotel design.
Nexy Hostel, Hanoi, Vietnam
Wedged between tall, narrow houses in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, surrounded by a maze of street wires and wayside scooters, stands the smart, cheerful white-and-blue facade of the Nexy Hostel.
The hostel is described as ‘a place to sleep or not sleep at all’, thanks to shared spaces that include a games room, a cafe and a lively rooftop terrace. Rooms are minimalist, clean and comfortable. A locker for storage, power outlets for juicing up gadgets, privacy curtains for enjoying quiet time and even minor details like hooks for hanging up damp towels show a great attention to detail.
The Quisby, New Orleans, US
The meaning of ‘quisby’ can be interpreted as ‘misadventure’ or someone who is ‘out-of-sorts’. That’s cool with the owners of The Quisby in New Orleans, who self-identify as a ‘bunch of misfits and loveable troublemakers’. Some of them are native to the city, some visited the Big Easy and didn’t have the heart to leave. Together, they have created a hostel in the three-storey structure of the historic Audubon Hotel. It was built in the 1930s as a basic form of housing for Mississippi riverboat crews, but its beautiful cream and emerald facade belies its humble origins. The hostel has 30 rooms, a mix of shared and private dorms. Large sunny windows, memory-foam mattresses and free New Orleans chicory coffee and local pastries at breakfast all enhance the experience. Rooms overlook Charles Avenue, the route of the Mardi Gras festival: make sure to book your rooms here well in advance – and I mean seriously well – to take in all the action.
Once in Cape Town, South Africa
Located on Kloof Street, not far from a thriving hubbub of bars and restaurants, is the sustainable luxury hostel Once in Cape Town.
This is a large hostel, sleeping over 150 guests, with conference rooms, meeting room, cinema space, communal kitchen, on-site restaurant and bar – and a lively social calendar. The rooms are mostly private with en suite bathrooms, graced with crisp white linens and local artwork. The on-site bar, Yours Truly, is a Cape Town institution, where locals and guests gather in a space that’s half urban hipster, half sub-tropical jungle.
Mojo Nomad Central, Hong Kong
Ovolo Group founder Girish Jhunjhnuwala closed the group’s budget-category hotel in Sheung Wan last year, making way for this reinvention with room-sharing options, bold neon signage and plenty of graffiti. Mojo Nomad’s motto ‘go big or go small’ translates as private guest rooms sized from S to XL, plus dormitory-style spaces that sleep up to a dozen in single and double bunks. Catering to digital nomads, each sleeping space has a television that can connect to Bluetooth headphones, plenty of USB and traditional plugs, as well as international adaptors. The Common Room, a shared space with a snack bar and mismatched furniture, is designed for both work and socialising. The in-house gym feels indulgent with its TRX machine, punch bags and yoga mats. Buzzed about since opening night, the hostel’s Mexican eatery Te Quiero Mucho serves generous pours of spicy margarita.
Wired Hotel Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan
US design agency OMFGCO wrangled authentic Japanese culture and craftsmanship into this new hotel by partnering with artisans who created its vintage-inspired furniture – a fitting initiative, given its location in the traditional Asakusa district. Polished parquet flooring and geometric-patterned textiles add modernity to the 30 photogenic guest rooms, which include a jaw-dropping penthouse with a deep-soak bathtub. Budget-minded travellers can take refuge in the hostel-style mixed and female-only dorm options. But even these beds get made with ultra-luxe Duxiana mattress toppers. Local goodies like matcha lattes and small-batch sakes round out the menu served at the street-front Zakbaran cafe, its raw concrete walls finished with original art from hip Japanese artists.
Dock Inn Hostel, Warnemunde, Germany
The age-old German shipyard harbour quay of Warnemunde is home to the unique Dock Inn Hostel, constructed from overseas shipping containers. These containers, with their special patina etched by countless voyages across the world’s oceans, were dumped in the port of Hamburg, 150 kilometres away, before being moved and skilfully transformed into spaces for the millennial and mobile.
Although the structure of the hostel is made from such basic building blocks, it’s surprisingly comfortable and airy – thanks to the lofty terraces and high windows. The container theme merges well with the rough, fresh charms of the Baltic seascape. Here, bathrooms are concealed in shipping crates, while larger containers offer space for eight-bed dorms and suites. There’s even an indoor rock-climbing centre.
The Pod, Singapore
There are only bunk beds at this Beach Road location in Singapore’s Kampong Glam quarter. The tasteful, wood-panelled pods sleep singles, apart from a handful of queen-size ones that can accommodate two. Each sleep space comes with a roomy locker, a privacy blind and power sockets. Plush chairs or sofas flank these immaculate capsules, and there are private changing rooms for travellers who prefer to disrobe out of sight. Guests enjoy an impressive array of freebies, including Wi-Fi, Nespresso coffee, an indulgent breakfast buffet, use of a business centre with laptops and local telephone service, and even dry-cleaning. Foodies will love the diverse neighbourhood, with a world of dining options within a few steps.
Bedstation Ratchathewi, Bangkok, Thailand
This inviting spot sitting adjacent to the Ratchathewi BTS station offers comfy accommodations along with free and fast Wi-Fi, and generous breakfast spreads with homemade breads and juices. Private rooms with double beds, powerful showers and bespoke soaps epitomise industrial style with their polished concrete walls and exposed pipes. Less expensive yet no less photogenic shared spaces allow for bunking together in four-, six- or eight-bed configurations, including a six-bed, female-only dorm. Beds have their own night light, electric socket and shelf space, plus a secure and generous luggage locker. Movie nights, local food tours and Buddhist temple ceremonies are among the activities offered by the young, multilingual team.