Sure, college students and party animals may seek out hostels as an ideal way to meet other young travelers and save money on the road, but there comes a point in every traveler's life when showering with flip-flops and playing drinking games with strangers becomes less appealing, and clean bedding and quiet at a reasonable hour become necessities. But what to do when you want to avoid bunk beds but still save money and meet like-minded travelers? We scoped out eight hostels around the world that offer low rates, stylish design, cool locations, private rooms, and the occasional shared (but clean, we promise) bathroom. No flip-flops or ear plugs required!
-- Megan Wood, Oyster.com
The Mosaic House in Prague has earned the rare title of "upscale hostel." Private rooms are decorated with a stylish music theme and include fresh white bedding, flat-screen TVs, and iPod docks. Rainhead showers and large bowl sinks add to the luxe feel, and some rooms have private terraces. Upgrade to a penthouse room for even more space, Nespresso coffeemakers, and views of the city. Public areas are hip and lively; weekly DJs and a cool restaurant draw a fun crowd, but the scene is rarely rowdy. We give this refined-adult-friendly hostel extra points for on-site Segway rentals and a chic lounge.
One of the quirkier hostels on this list, the Arte Luise Kunsthotel features rooms (some with shared bathrooms) that are each individually decorated by a local artist, with themes ranging from Marilyn Monroe to the beach. Gumball machines, quotations painted on stairway walls, and an outdoor terrace add to the artistic ambiance. The on-site restaurant, Habel Weinkultur, serves a mixture of German and Mediterranean food; it's pricey, but the food gets high marks. Noise here rarely comes from the guests, but the hotel does provide ear plugs in case the sound of the nearby train is distracting.
The lobby and facade at Stay on Main Hotel and Hostel in downtown Los Angeles looks more like what you'd expect of an upscale European hotel than the budget-friendly property it truly is. Colorful rooms run the gamut from bunk-bed dorms to private rooms with shared or private bathrooms. One major downside here, especially considering its Southern California location, is that air conditioning isn't available. Breakfast and afternoon snacks are included in the room rates, and there are an on-site movie lounge, fitness center, and Wii consoles. Guests have access to the communal kitchen and coin-operated laundry facilities as well.
The Generator brand has nine design-friendly hostels throughout Europe that focus on maintaining a sense of place and low costs, without sacrificing style. The Copenhagen property draws families, couples, and groups to its mix of clean and Scandinavian-inspired rooms that range from dorm to private, with en-suite or shared bathrooms. Free daily walking tours are available, and bikes are available to rent. The restaurant focuses more on pub fare than healthy choices, however.
To some, the bold design and modern architecture of Golly&Bossy Design Hostel are major draws, while others find them far too austere. Either way, the property could use a bit of updating, but it does offer large, air-conditioned suites with rainfall showers. Shared dorms have ship-style bunk beds with white bedding. There's an on-site restaurant and a rooftop balcony, and the location in the old city center means guests can walk to all the tourist spots with ease.
Built inside one of the Art Deco buildings Miami Beach is known for, the Freehand Miami is a fun property that's more like a boutique hotel than a hostel. Though the rooms are a little bland, they do include hotel-grade mattresses, docking stations, and wall-mounted writing desks. The outdoor swimming pool, retro-style bikes, and free continental breakfast are excellent perks for this scenester spot, located just a few blocks from the beach. A hip indoor/outdoor bar draws locals and regularly hosts DJs.
Brooklyn is currently the coolest borough in New York City, and The New York Loft Hostel has a hip location in up-and-coming Bushwick. Breakfast is included in the room rate, and guests can rent both bikes and iPads from the hotel. Many of the rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and exposed-brick walls for that gritty and cool NYC loft look. Private rooms have en-suite bathrooms decorated with subway tiles. Weekly barbecues and fondue parties keep things sociable but somewhat more refined than your average flip-cup gathering.
Clink78 is a 19th-century courthouse turned street-art-inspired hostel near King's Cross Train Station. British punk rockers The Clash were famously tried here in 1978 for shooting pigeons, and many of the original features of the historic building -- including the high, sculpted ceilings and original witness stands -- have been preserved. Private rooms have the unfortunate name of prison cells and are furnished with bunk beds, but they're cheerfully painted canary yellow and feature funky design details like boomboxes and sneakers. Breakfast, Wi-Fi, and use of the communal kitchen are free.