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You’re not 21 anymore, you have more disposable income, and you deserve better. You’re ready for the boutique hostel.

She’d be happier in a boutique hostel. / Photo: Mart_Moppel Feature photo: Kivanc Nis

The term boutique hostel is so new that you can’t even find it in Wikipedia. Go on. Try it. In fact, boutique hostel may even be an oxymoron, and I’m sure backpackers of the world will not be taking a particular shine to this phrase.

Nonetheless, something that seems to fall between a regular hostel, B&B, guesthouse, and boutique hotel has cropped up. Of course, it’s all marketing — they’re really just “very nice hostels.”

What’s going on?

According to Benji Ladyano at the Guardian, vacationers are looking for more budget accommodations in these difficult economic times, and the entrepreneurial spirit of hostel owners is leading to better and increased services in the typical hostel.

It seems the backpackers and flashpackers are going to have to move over to make room.

So where can you can find one? has started an interactive directory of worldwide boutique hostels. Categorized by continent, there are already boutique hostels listed in Ghana, Morocco, Thailand, Germany, Portugal, Peru, Canada, and Australia, among many other countries.

A room at El Diablo Tranquilo / Photo: Seth Anderson

If you’ve stayed in one and want to share it with others, pop in a review and they’ll consider adding it to the growing list.

Of special note, the boutique hostel El Diablo Tranquilo is owned and operated by our very own Matador Community member Brian Meissner. The hostel in Punta del Diablo, Uruguay is found under L. America in the World’s Best Boutique Hostels list.

Brian has his own take on why we’re starting to see boutique hostels emerging:

Boutique hostels let you sleep comfortably, enjoy creative design ideas in interesting locations, give you all the services of a specialty hotel, yet still allow for that impromptu drinking game in the lobby and the liberating idea that the guy next to you at breakfast might be a doctor from Germany or a student from Chile, but he’s also left his friends and his home and is right in the same boat you are, ready for anything and looking for people to share it with.

Whatever the reason, if it leads to more Internet, less hair in the drain, and a smilier host, I’m all for it.


Whether or not you stay in a boutique hostel or a more traditional one, you may find some useful ideas here: Hostel Sex: A Practical Guide for Backpackers.

Can’t afford the boutique hostel? That’s alright. Matador editor Tom Gates has some solid tips on How to Make Your Hostel Less Hostile.

About The Author

Carlo Alcos

Carlo is the Dean of Education at MatadorU and a Managing Editor at Matador. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. He lives in Nelson, British Columbia.

  • Julie

    Excellent article, Carlo! I’ll be honest: I’m a long term, hard-core traveler and I’ve never liked hostels. I think I’ve only stayed in hostels twice. So I like the idea of the boutique hostel a bit more.

  • tom gates

    ooooh. ooooh. you mean there’s hope for me getting out of this bed that i’m currently in, which came with some kind of paper condom that is supposed to be a sheet? tell me more! i am soooooooooooooooo all over this site :) thanks!

  • Carlo Alcos

    Too true Julie…much of my travel has been via campervan, so it’s my hostel on wheels. It was only really traveling through Asia where I had my real first hostel experiences.

    And Tom, I hear you dude. I’ve lost count the times I’ve said “I’m too old for this s**t”

  • Benji Lanyado

    Cheers for flagging the guide up, I had a lot of fun putting it together!

    I defo think it is a combination of hostels getting better, and travelers looking for better value. Boutique hostels exist where the two graphs meet!

    It’s great to see hostels getting good exposure. I’ve been obsessed since the fisrt one I ever visited. We’ve had a lot of great feedback on the list, and look forward to seeing it grow.


    • Carlo Alcos

      Yeah, I can imagine! I hope the trend continues…but at the same time, the costs stay reasonable.

  • Tim Patterson

    Hooray for El Diablo Tranquilo!

  • Christine

    Love the top pic…

  • The Tux in Backpack Flashpacking Blog

    Flashpackers were the first to discovered that you could indeed travel (and sleep) in some decent comfort and style without blowing your budget, taking advantage of the first boutique hostels, that started to call themselves also Flashpackers hostels. And yes, i guess we’re happy to make some room.. the more the marrier! Excellent article, congrats!

  • Caitlin

    Hmm… dunno if I would call Big Milly’s Backyard in Ghana a “boutique” hotel. I mean, it is great and all but didn’t seem any fancier than your average beach hostel.

    Although you can rack up an enormous tab at the bar/restaurant if you’re not careful.

    I do like the idea of boutique hostels, though. I’m 26 now, and some of the hostels I’ve stayed at made me feel old (and I’m way too young to feel old!) I think the real secret to a great hostel is to have a really mixed crowd of people hanging around – different ages, nationalities, and plenty of locals too!

  • Hal Amen

    I’ll have to look into the one listed for Peru. Thanks Carlo!

  • Sarah

    Great article, Carlo!

    And, heads up, if anyone is going to Prague – definitely check out the Czech Inn ( The new rooms are swanky!

  • N. Chrystine Olson

    Would anyone come to such an establishment in the Idaho Panhandle? This article couldn’t be more timely. My Dad is interested in backing me in a B and B….way to America for my sensibilities, but a boutique hostel…now that’s something I can get my quirky self around. Feed back please :)

    • Carlo Alcos

      I promise, if and when I’m in the Idaho Panhandle, I will come and stay at your boutique hostel! :)

  • Amanda, traveling wedding photographer

    I love this idea ! I want to find more of them ( particularly in the Western U.S. )

    I can also personally recommend one in Costa Rica. It’s labeled a guest house, but rooms starting at only $20 ( smallest one ), I’d say it’s ” hostel priced”. Google the fountains guest house – it’s awesome!

    Chrystyne: Where are you in the Panhandle ? I would totally stop there since I’m road tripping that way soon.

  • N. Chrystine Olson

    Amanda….I don’t have one yet, but my Dad thought I should open a B and B and this concept is more in keeping with my take on travel and hospitality. You’re right, the Western U. S. needs more of these accomodations.

    To answer your question: I live in a little town called Blanchard dead center in between Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint. Very pretty.

  • Curro

    Excellent concept!
    It’s something that must continue to grow, although I’ve never liked much the term “boutique”.. (Here in Chile have appeared enough “boutique agencies of advertising”, “boutique restaurants”, “boutique hospitals”?!?!).
    But I understand and congrat where it leads. The hostels aren’t only a place to saty and sleep. It’s ALL part of the experience in a foreign country.. Here in Chile, in Valparaíso more precisely, I ABSOLUTELY RECOMEND the “Hostal Caracol” in Cerro Bellavista ( As I read the article, I imagined it all the time..
    But of course, you must live the experience..
    Cheers and give more tips!

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