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Boutique Hostels: The New Breed

Insider Guides Culture
by Carlo Alcos May 14, 2009
You’re not 21 anymore, you have more disposable income, and you deserve better. You’re ready for the boutique hostel.

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.

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.

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