Berlin - For many, the idea of staying in a hostel conjures up thoughts of rickety bunks, draughty corridors and snoring strangers.
They expect chaotic shared kitchens, long looted of their best utensils, and decor which is anything but stylish.
But now the hostel has evolved into something new and altogether more pleasing. The “poshtel” is set to make dodgy lodgings a thing of the past.
Travellers’ bible Lonely Planet has already noted the “irresistible rise” of the phenomenon.
So what’s it all about?
The poshtel combines the hostel’s cohabiting concept and affordable prices with exciting design and special amenities.
“Guests encounter features which you wouldn’t normally associate with a hostel, like a pool, roof terrace, bar, restaurant and free breakfast,” says Paul Halpenny from Hostelworld.com.
Rather than simply the cheapest place to sleep, poshtels aim to provide an attractive atmosphere where you’ll actually enjoy spending time. And the price per night is still significantly cheaper than at a hotel.
Halpenny says a “hostel revolution” has taken place in recent years.
Nowadays, 90 percent of places also offer some private rooms and it is hard to find one without free WiFi, he says.
Travellers’ expectations have increased, and the facilities and ambience of hostels have improved as a result.
“Hostels used to offer a cheap bed for the night,” says Tobias Warnecke of the German Hotel Association (IHA).
“Nowadays, travellers are increasingly placing importance on the design and aesthetics of their temporary home, without wanting to give up the cheap price or the sociable and informal atmosphere of a hostel.”
“Poshtels are experiencing strong demand throughout Europe and worldwide,” confirms Gillian Tans, CEO of the Booking.com online accommodation platform.
This hasn’t been too obvious so far, because the term “poshtel” is not that widespread yet. The locations are often marketed as design hostels or boutique hostels.
Some hotel chains have tried to offer rooms with contemporary design at affordable prices in capital cities. But they have been unable to come close to matching hostel prices.
More and more poshtels are opening, especially in the popular European metropolises.
Halpenny cites the Wallyard Concept Hostel in Berlin, Sunset Destination in Lisbon and the TOC Hostel in Barcelona as examples. Fancy, affordable city hostels have also sprouted up in cities like Chicago and Sydney.
The mainstream hotel industry is also trying to occupy this niche with design hotels, boutique hotels and lifestyle hotels, with locations from 25hours, Prizeotel and CitizenM making their mark.
And the major hotel chains are launching fresh, new, design-oriented brands to appeal to younger guests and compete with Airbnb.
Vice versa, a guest at a hostel with a single room and private bathroom can feel just like they would in a hotel.
“Clear distinctions between individual segments of the market are increasingly difficult to make and are becoming ever more blurred,” says Tobias Warnecke.
For example, AccorHotels has just launched the brand JO&JOE, aimed at millennials - with 50 locations around the world planned by 2020.