Travelers need a comfortable bed, but many seek unique experiences to share with friends, family, and followers back home. These days the lines are blurred between hotels, private dwellings and fantasy destinations. The word 'hostel' no longer suggests the cheap and spartan shared dormitories. From being located in some of the most desirable locations around the world, creatively serve up themed accommodations, to extra amenities designed to charm, the right hostel can be a thrilling dig for all classes of travel.
Built-in a 19th-century bank smack in the center of Ljubljana's cobbled Old town area, Hostel Tresor draws budget travelers to explore the many unsung wonders of Slovenia. Steps from Presēren Square and the Three Bridges crossing the Ljubljana River, this hostel has all the conveniences plus a superb location close to bus and train transport for moving on.
Aviation buffs will love to stay at this iconic hostel, which is a de-commissioned 747-200 Jumbo jet. Located at Stockholm's Arlanda airport, Jumbo Stay boasts a café and bar as well as a wing-walk observation deck, unique dormitories, and private sleeping areas. If you book early enough, the luxurious Cockpit Suite offers panoramic views of nearby runways.
Dating from the 1800s, this former stone jail has a dark and violent past. Retro-fitted to be a comfortable urban launch pad for the delights of Canada's capital city, the Nicolas Street Jail has retained its original footprint and interior details such as cell bars and steel doors. For those with a morbid fascination for penal history, there are daily tours of the jail, including the former Death Row.
At two locations, in Singapore's Chinatown and on Boat Key next to the Singapore river, visitors to this modern city can spend the night in a space capsule-themed hostel with all the comforts of home. Sleep in a private space pod equipped with individual AC and ventilation controls, a charging station and mini fire extinguisher. Or socialize in the shared facilities, which includes desk workspaces and spotless communal bathrooms.
Cool stone caves built into the hillsides have been home to the residents of Cappadoccia, Turkey for millennia. The Traveller's Cave Pension welcomes guests to grotto-like rooms, with luxurious architectural touches and cozy lighting. Some have panoramic views of the famous nearby cliffs and a sky filled with hot air balloons. The hostel also boasts 5-star common areas and terraces and has an extensive list of activities and tours to choose from.
Bibliophiles will feel right at home at Tokyo's Book and Bed. Accommodations at this popular hostel in Shinjuku or Ikebukuro are tucked behind and around bookshelves laden with all manner of reading material in many languages. Private rooms are cubby holes that include a book light, wifi, and outlets. Some require a ladder to get to, and the communal areas include lots of space to curl up. Travelers to Japan should note there are Book and Beds in Kyoto and Fukuoka as well.
Colombia is one of the world's best destinations these days for inexpensive independent travel. If you head to the lush rainforests and mountains of the north, don't miss Minca—a tiny mountain town that's home to a breathtakingly located hostel called Casa Elemento. After exploring the great hikes in the vicinity, you can finish your day off by crashing in a hammock surrounded by epic views of nearby Los Pinos come sunset. The hostel has a slackline, a bar, and billiards tables.
Along Turkey's Mediterranean coast is Bayrams Treehouses, a unique hostel near Olympos. There is little development in this protected area of natural beauty, so the surrounding views are just lush forests, sheltered beaches, and soaring cliff faces. This beautiful hostel has private bungalows, treehouse dorms, and a great outdoor patio and restaurant. There is also a nearby beach for soaking up the sun and rock-climbing.
Platform Zero at Sydney's Central Station is home to the transportation-themed Railway Square YHA. The hostel is a mix of shared and private rooms, most of which were built from de-commissioned railway cars. Glimpse Sydney's skyline from the communal roof terrace or cook up a storm in the communal kitchen. There is also an on-site snack bar and nightly food specials serving up everything from discount meatballs to nasi goreng.
The tropical rainforest surrounds Hotel Costa Verde, a quirky hostel within striking distance of Manuel Antonio National Park and Costa Rica's sprawling Pacific beaches. People come here for more than the natural scenery, as this backpacker's hotel is built around the remains of a Boeing 727 fuselage jutting from the forest canopy. There are 70 less dramatic but equally comfortable rooms scattered across the property, which also hosts weddings on its Helipad deck.