From Copenhagen to Chiang Mai, from Miami to Mexico City, these accommodations may be budget friendly—but they don’t skimp on charm, creativity or coolness cache.
Have you checked out the dorm-bed scene lately? In the last few years, a new crop of design-centric, trendsetting hostels have cropped up in some of the world’s most iconic cities—and they’re drawing everyone from gap year adventurers to baby boomers looking to save money as they see the world. If you think your hostel days are over, we challenge you to grab your travel backpack check out the boutique spaces included here—and be pleasantly proven wrong.
“A happy, summer camp vibe” was the inspiration behind last year’s grand opening of The Freehand in Miami, which claims to be the first upscale hostel in the United States. Staff wearing designer uniforms rent out custom bikes during the day and serve custom cocktails around the swimming pool by night. The Freehand’s bar, The Broken Shaker, is a must-visit for all fun-loving visitors to South Beach, from hostelers to luxury travelers alike.
2727 Indian Creek Drive, Miami Beach, Florida, USA / thefreehand.com / dorm beds from $30, private rooms from $150 / breakfast included
SOHOstel is an attempt to bring the trendy hostel scene to Thailand’s second largest city, one largely dominated by simple guesthouses and five-star hotels. Red accents like shiny chandeliers, intricate murals, and cherry dorm beds tie the multi-story hostel and its many amenities together. Key card room access, an elevator, a full kitchen, complete laundry facilities, air conditioning and even bright red rental bikes will seem downright luxurious to travelers traipsing through Southeast Asia.
64/2 Loy Khroh Road, Chiang Mai, Thailand / sohostelcm.com / dorm beds from $8, private rooms from $44 / breakfast not included
Iceland will never be synonymous with budget travel, but that doesn’t mean you need a fortune to visit the land of fire and ice. Renovated from the remnants of a biscuit factory, Kex is a retro-chic example of why Reykjavik is one of Europe’s hottest cities. With a vintage barbershop, an old school gym, a heated outdoor patio and the trendy DRINX bar all housed within the factory walls, it’s a miracle guests ever manage to tear themselves away from their lodging to visit the nearby sights.
Skulagata 28, Reykjavik, Iceland / kexhostel.is / dorm beds from $20 in the winter, $32 in the summer, private rooms from $72 in the winter, $151 in the summer / breakfast not included
A Mexican design group known for its opulent hotels pulled the hospitality industry version of creating a budget line for big box stores: they opened a hostel. Bunk beds built from chartreuse-colored lattice brick make a bold statement in the dorm rooms, while en suite bathrooms boast rain showers. And because the rooftop swimming pool and bar is becoming a hotspot for trendy locals, it’s never been easier for travelers to pick up some informal lessons in español.
30 Isabel la Católica, Mexico City, Mexico / downtownbeds.com / dorm beds starting at $15, private rooms starting at $42 / breakfast included
The sleek interiors, bustling bar, and youthful vibe of Generator Copenhagen are distinct signs of a nightlife-centric crash pad. But with the in-house Generator Gallery rotating works of art from hot new Danish artists downstairs, this isn’t your standard party hostel. An events calendar packed with free walking tours, discounted yoga classes, and exhibit openings will appeal to travelers with a wide range of wish lists.
Adelgade 5-7, 1304, Copenhagen, Denmark / generatorhostels.com / Dorm beds starting at $25, private rooms starting at $45 / breakfast not included
What are your favorite hostels around the world? Let us know in the comments section below!
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Alexandra Baackes is a traveling writer, designer, and underwater videographer. She is currently in her third year of living as a full-time nomad.