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Welcome to Europe’s next generation of hostel. Architecturally, historically and socially significant, these hot spots keep a keen eye on experiential details, from top-notch local food to high-quality live music to homegrown design. Far from the sticky floors and thin mattresses of their forebears, our favourite haute hostels prove that social accommodation and comfort are not mutually exclusive. 

1. Generator Venice
Housed in a converted granary on Giudecca Island, five minutes by boat-bus from St. Mark’s Square, Generator Venice has a view of the city that will make you weep like Stendhal. The hostel has several touches that elevate it from perch to palazzo, including Murano glass, Venetian tiles (specially commissioned by local artisans) and deep velvet armchairs. The dorm rooms are straightforward but spotless, with real duvets and double rainforest showers. Even if you opt for a private double room, make sure to use the public space on the main floor, which includes a plush bar appointed with the dark wooden furniture of an English mansion’s billiards room. Even Venetians come here to sip Aperol spritzes.
• Fondamenta Zitelle 86, 39-41-877-8288,

Boutique Hostel Forum ZadarBoutique Hostel Forum Zadar

2. Boutique Hostel Forum
Zadar, Croatia
Located just blocks from St. Anastasia’s Cathedral and the Roman Forum, this property is not only convenient but also gives you a heart-stopping view, through outsize picture windows, of the ancient city right from your bed. Constructed in 1964, the office building-cum-hostel has 37 airy, sparse rooms, with options ranging from six-bed dorms to private doubles. Dorms have podlike bunks that can be closed off with a shutter or beds on raised platforms of varying heights to give a sense of privacy. In the hostel’s interior garden, you’ll find guests practising fjaka, an untranslatable Croatian concept that requires you to blissfully zone out in the afternoon. In the evening, watch the Dalmatian sunset with the hostel bar’s tart marasca cherry cocktail in hand.
• Široka ul. 20, 385-23-253-031,

The IndependenteThe Independente

3. The Independente Hostel and Suites
The four private suites at the Independente spill out onto wrought-iron balconies so elegant, you’ll feel more like royalty than a backpacker. Located in the trendy Bairro Alto district, the destination hostel has preserved elements from its graceful 19th-century mansion digs – the double archway entrance, the checkerboard marble floor, the ornate moulded ceilings –while seamlessly combining them with up-to-the minute design. Panton chairs in the in-house restaurant, the Decadente, surround communal tables, with the menu appearing on chalkboards throughout the hostel. Dorm rooms each have their own lounge and up to nine cork bunks set on original Portuguese tile or wood plank floors.
• R. São Pedro de Alcântara 81, 351-21-346-1381,

4. WellnessHostel 4000
Saas-Fee, Switzerland
This mountain-valley property is pioneering the spa retreat for hostel travellers. At WellnessHostel 4000, it’s all about serious water cures, with glossy treatment rooms, a 25-metre indoor mineral pool and deep, invigorating hot tubs. Hydromassage shower options include “freezing fog” and “mountain stream,” and both are perfect at the end of a hike or a day of year-round skiing. The five-storey purpose-built hostel is crafted with local timber and loaded with eco-credentials. Both dorm-style and private rooms are unadorned, while the common area with its white leather seating and cozy fireplace is more inviting, creating a groovy setting for travellers to mellow out over Alpine tapas after a massage.
• Panoramastrasse 1, 41-27-958-50-50,

Backstay HostelBackstay Hostel

5. Backstay Hostel
Ghent, Belgium
The conversion of this 1930s art deco building, once the editorial offices of Vooruit newspaper, was mindful of its original purpose and standout features: original wood, etched glass, mosaic floors and brick tunnels. Each room is named after a major international newspaper, and all are painted in bright colours that evoke good news. While you might not be able to book according to your editorial leanings – Globe and Mail room, anyone? – you’ll find the accommodations foster great discussions with fellow guests in the buzzy common room. A lot of groups use this hostel, so flashpackers may prefer to stay in one of the pricier private rooms. Even so, they’ll have enough money left over for a Belgian waffle at the legendary L’Établissement Max on the nearby Goudenlieuwplein.
• Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 128, 32-9-395-96-60,




Getting There

Madrid: Air Canada offers non-stop seasonal summer service from Toronto to Madrid. Paris: Air Canada offers year-round non-stop service from Toronto and Montreal to Paris. London: Air Canada offers the most daily non-stop flights to London with nonstop service from Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver, Halifax, St.John’s and Edmonton to London Heathrow. And, starting summer 2016, Air Canada rouge will fly non-stop from Toronto to Gatwick.

Comments… or add another

D Wale

Friday, October 9th 2015 22:51
Far too nouveau riche for good taste! Five best hotels. I don't think so.

roy e gudnason

Saturday, October 10th 2015 16:41
Looks like a wonderful places to visit
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