Anyone who’s taken a gap year or traveled across continents has likely stayed in a hostel at some point along the way.
Cluttered and cheerful, these simple properties host millions of budget travelers, making it easy to explore exotic destinations without racking up a big bill.
No longer catering just to students, in recent years hostels have upped their game. Facilities have improved, rooms have more privacy and interior design could match some of the hippest hotels. .
And as the cost of living crisis continues to bite, hostels present a much more economical option for a vacation. Try some of these European options for a stress-free short break this year…
A&O Hostel Rotterdam, Netherlands
In a bid to reduce its ecological footprint, A&O aims to become Europe’s first chain of zero-CO2 hostels by 2025. Even better for eco-conscious travellers, the location of this branch – 10 minutes walk from Rotterdam Central Station – makes it ideal for Eurostar connections from London St Pancras. The 19th century brick building has free Wi-Fi, satellite TV, tea/coffee making facilities, as well as desks and lounge areas. Enjoy a complimentary breakfast buffet. Dogs are welcome and a bicycle rental service is also available.
Details: From €49 per night (twin room, for two). aohostels.com
Swiss Youth Hostels Crans-Montana, Switzerland
For more than a century, the upscale seaside resort of Crans-Montana has been a center of health and well-being. Once used as a sanatorium, this beautifully converted inn promises to benefit both body and soul, with views of the Rhone Valley, Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Summer activities on offer include mountain biking, road biking, hiking and water sports on lakes at 1,500 meters above sea level. Visit Chalet Alaïa, an indoor and outdoor skate and trampoline park, or Alaïa Bay, a new artificial surf park.
Details: From £48 per person per night in a six bed room including breakfast. aubergedejeunesse.ch/fr/hostels/crans-montana
Next House, Copenhagen, Denmark
A cinema and yoga studio position this hostel above other affordable properties in a city known for its quality and design. A whopping 1,666 beds are spread across 433 rooms and include female-only dorms. Common areas are split between a lounge, two rooftops, a soccer field, and a restaurant serving stone-baked pizzas.
Details: Rooms from €16.50 per person in a 6-bed dormitory. nexthousecopenhagen.com
Where to sleepIn Fængslet, Horsens, Denmark
Spending the night in a cell might not sound like fun, but this historic inn in Horsens, a 45-minute drive from Aarhus, has a kitsch charm. Once one of Europe’s largest prisons, Fængslet was commissioned in 1853 and closed in 2006. Years later the bars have been abandoned, allowing curious travelers to experience what it’s like to spend a night “inside”. Hear the stories of the inmates – like the story of Carl August Lorentzen, who escaped from prison in 1949 by spending 11 months digging an 18-meter tunnel.
Details: Doubles from £56.50. faengslet.dk
WOT Peniche, Portugal
Choose from dorms, suites, studios and apartments at this hip, designer hostel in Europe’s bohemian surf capital. Within walking distance of Peniche’s best seafood restaurants, the colorful property is run by a team of friendly locals who know the destination inside out. Learn to surf with one of the schools along Baleal Beach or take a boat trip to the Berlengas, an archipelago with spectacular scenery, thriving wildlife and one of Portugal’s most beautiful forts.
Details: From €20 per person per night in a 6-bed dormitory. www.wotelshub.com