Gone are the days of amenity-free hostels.
More luxury hostel offerings have launched to cater to the next generation of traveler, who demands tech-savvy functions, cultural immersion and less pain on the pocketbook.
Andrea Mehanna, owner of HostelsClub.com, says a shift from the traditional backpacker to “flashpackers” and other travelers means hostels have to keep up with the changing face of travel.
A flashpacker is a backpacker with a host of gadgetry who has more money to spend.
Along with free Wi-Fi and myriad outlets, road warriors can now find luxury hostels with private rooms, swanky rooftop lounges, pools, hot tubs, leather furniture, Italian marble bathrooms, 300-thread-count sheets, central air conditioning and on-site coffee shops, bars and eateries.
Room rates for luxury hostels generally range from $40 to $75 per night.
“With the ease of access to information, this generation of globe-trotters now can easily find the cleanest, most up-to-date hostels, with the best amenities and at the most competitive prices, with a few keystrokes of their smartphone,” says Ian Ord, travel blogger of Where Sidewalks End.
“One of the only ways to stay afloat in today’s market is the age-old, tested and true strategy of providing the best service,” Ord says.
There are a number of design hostels launching, showcasing an artsier aesthetic than the bare walls once associated with this type of accommodation.
And let’s not forget the programming. To appeal to the new generation of traveler wanting to go local and socialize, many hostels now offer cultural programming like art exhibitions and live music, as well as fun outings from pub crawls to local sporting events.
Ord says many of these superior features are created to appeal to millennials, young professional couples looking to have the social hostel experience with hotel-like privacy in the room, and digital nomads working online while traveling.
Mehanna says one of the first things today’s tech-obsessed traveler seeks is free Wi-Fi. In fact, travelers often choose accommodations based on it.
“Travelers and bloggers spread the word through social media and blogs to their followers and friends. Both the hostel and the guest benefit, especially as the hostel has the chance for free publicity,” he says.
Moreover, the more innovative and posh the features are that they offer — and the more Instagram experiences there are on-site — the more likely they are to post online.
There are things to consider when booking a luxury hostel on a budget.
Private rooms aren’t hard to find in 2015, and they make a big difference. After narrowing your search, compare for the best location; an inexpensive property gets pricey if you’re constantly taking public transportation or taxis.
And choosing a kitchen-equipped hostel also can help travelers meet others and save on food.