Fancy hostels are the new hotels for high-end travelers

The Blue Hostel in Rome

With the ever-increasing popularity of glamping and Airbnb, it is no wonder even business travelers are now opting for more luxe versions of “roughing it.” Hostels — once thought to be the lowest form of travel with bunk beds and communal showers — are now splurging on upgrades to attract millennial travelers. These days many high-end hostel brands offer concierges, rooftop pools and even boast top-rated bars, blurring the line between hotel and hostel.

And it seems these additions are attracting not just the young, but travelers from all walks of life. “We’re not just seeing the low end of millennials at our hostels,” said Frederik Korallus, the CEO of Generator, one of the fastest growing high-end hostels, “but also Gen Z, families with several kids, creative professionals—design, fashion, IT, software-development folks—and even empty nesters.”

According to data from Hostelworld, the world’s largest hostel booking engine, 9.3 percent of bookings are made by travelers age 41 and up; another 20 percent are between 31 and 40 years old.

Business travelers find themselves attracted to next-level hostels because of their co-working environments and vibrant common spaces. The social aspect of travel can sometimes override luxuries like room service or nightly turn-down service. Oftentimes those traveling for work are priced out of nearby hotels if there is a major event happening. As a result, they end up gravitating to these shared spaces.

Roughly 80 percent of non-millennials register satisfaction with their stays. As such, Paul Halpenny, global director of supply at Hostelworld, who spent the majority of his career at mainstream hotel brands says, “I wouldn’t have touched the hostel business in my earlier years, but it’s a high-end product now.” [Bloomberg]