I have a confession to make: I have never stayed in the dorm room of a hostel. There, I said it. I don’t even think that it has anything to do with my wise old age of thirty-something; sharing a room with strangers was just never my approach of getting a good night’s sleep. In addition, I like an accommodation with a story, a sense of place and preferably some cool design. Hostels to me seemed to be all about cheap beer and cliche backpackers but rarely about the place itself.

Luckily for me, a new league of design hostels has popped up all over the globe – the perfect solution for people who like it chic and cheap, for travelers like me. What these cool hostels have in common are options for different budgets and travel styles, a great sense of community and the best locations in some of Europe’s coolest cities.

Check out our tips for staying at a hostel, get your Interrail pass ready and head to one of these cool hostels in Europe – summer doesn’t get any better!

A new league of design hostels has popped up all over the globe; the perfect solution for people who like it chic and cheap. Here are some of the best!

1. Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof – Interlaken, Switzerland

While Interlaken may seem like a sleepy mountain village from a distance, there are few places that can compare when it comes to international clientele and adventure. Set beside the famous Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains, Interlaken is a true adventure city. Only Queenstown, New Zealand offers the same variety when it comes to exciting activities.
Right under the watchful eye of the Jungfrau, you will find Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof. This charming hostel is located in a 200-year-old chalet with a modern extension and a beautiful garden. Offering 2-7-bed rooms with both private and shared bathroom facilities, not only are breakfast and essentials such as linens and towels included in the price, but also free high-speed wifi as well as a CO2 compensation. In addition, guests can use the local buses for free and get complimentary access to the public pools and minigolf course as well as discounts to some of the area’s attractions. You can either use the communal kitchen or take full advantage of the half board option Villa Sonnenhof is offering in cooperation with some of the local restaurants.
Needless to say, Villa Sonnenhof can help you to get out there and take full advantage of the amazing adventures that are on offer in Interlaken. From a jet boat ride on lake Brienz or a trip to Jungfraujoch to canyoning and paragliding, not even the sky is the limit here.

Book a room at Villa Sonnenhof here.

2. A&O Copenhagen Nørrebro – Copenhagen, Denmark

A&O is a European hotel and hostel chain with style. Whatever your budget, you will surely find a bed to suit your needs at A&O – in the heart of 32 European cities. Only open since Spring 2017, the A&O Copenhagen Nørrebro is the latest addition to the family. It comes with a new design concept called “A&O: Next Generation” that entails a sleek look and specials such as ‘students only’ areas, an XXL lobby and a reading corner with a small library.
Mind you, A&O isn’t for students only. You will find different room categories to suit your style: single, double and family rooms are available as well as beds with a lockable cupboard. All rooms come with WC and shower and the comfortable hotel standard comes with fresh linen, towels, and a private bathroom. I love that services like breakfast, packed lunch, and late check-out are optional and can be booked at an extra cost upon request. This way you don’t pay for something you don’t want or need!
Always included is free high-speed wifi and Sky Premium TV. If you’d rather go and explore – Nørrebro is a vibrant and fun student district and the rest of Copenhagen can easily be reached by public transport.

Book a room at A&O Copenhagen Nørrebro here.

3. Hostel Ruthensteiner – Vienna, Austria

“Handmade with lots of love” is the motto of Hostel Ruthensteiner, located in Vienna, Austria. Its team has put a lot of work and heart into creating a unique, traveler-friendly environment and it shows – Ruthensteiner has been around for almost 50 years! Much of the hostel is actually handmade and you will find original artwork and furniture scattered around the house and gardens. Their latest endeavor is their very own craft beer made in cooperation with a local Austrian brewery.
Ruthensteiner’s goal is to provide an oasis for travelers, both to recharge and to socialize with others from around the world. The heart of the hostel is the communal kitchen and the lovely gardens which provide a retreat from the hustle and bustle of Vienna. In the evenings guests mingle at their cozy bar for a craft beer or a little jam session – a selection of musical instruments are available for guests to use. A great and easy way to meet like-minded people, especially for solo travelers.
Sleeping facilities include everything that you need to feel at home away from home. Options include shared dormitories (coed or single sex) as well as private rooms, with or without ensuite WC/shower.

Book a room at Ruthensteiner here.

4. Hektor Design Hostel – Tartu, Estonia

While it may not be the official capital, Tartu lays claim to being Estonia’s spiritual capital thanks to its Tartu vaim (spirit). That spirit can be felt everywhere in the city – and especially at Hektor. As a true design hostel, Hektor’s visual concept was developed by local architects and interior designers, no surprise as it is located right next to Tartu’s creative scenery – The Widget Factory (Aparaaditehas). Within walking distance of Raekojaplats and the Old Town, Hektor is equally popular among business travelers, backpackers and families alike. None of the 112 rooms in the house look the same – unique design furniture & graphic art, different color schemes and room shapes offer the perfect option for every accommodation requirement. Whether you need a bedroom or a private apartment for 2 days, 2 weeks or 2 months, for only 1 or even 6 people together, Hektor has you covered.
Choose your room according to your needs and budget, and take full advantage of their amazing services available on location: Gym, yoga room, sauna, lounge, seminar room and cafeteria – Toto, we ain’t in a regular hostel anymore!
Hektor Cafe and the small library next to it have been furnished fully by local independent furniture makers, which is just one example of Hektor’s cooperation with local businesses. Culture and arts are an integral part of Tartu and it shows at Hektor as well – for their 1st birthday, an open design contest was held for street artists to create a mural in their hallway, art that is unique to their house.

Book a room at Hektor Design Hostel here.

5. Sputnik hostel & personal space – Moscow, Russia


Sputnik Hostel is located in the heart of Moscow and is as cool as it gets. Location is everything and you’re just a 10-minute walk from the Red Square, the Bolshoi Theatre and other great places in downtown Moscow. If you prefer to take the metro you will find two stations in the vicinity to explore the rest of the city.
One of their amazing services are the unique tours with staff members that Sputnik provides. Guests are able to explore Moscow like a local, climb to secret rooftops, visit non-touristic places or go barhopping. For all of the Instagram lovers out there (are you following Travelettes yet?! http://instagram.com/travelettes/), they offer the «Niko & Sputnik hangouts» project – photo sessions at some of the coolest locations in Moscow.
Sputnik is also a true design hostel and it shows everywhere from the original brickwork from the late 19th century to the ultra cool sleeping boxes. While the latter concept isn’t new for a hostel, few do it as well as Sputnik. They are not only awesome for single travelers but also for couples as double beds are also available in the dorm rooms! The common areas offer comfortable sofas and reading corners, a movie projector and a communal kitchen with free tea and coffee – perfect to relax and sort through those pictures of yourself on a Moscow rooftop.

Book a room at Sputnik here.

6. Mountain Hostel Tarter – El Tarter, Pyrenees

If hiking, skiing and getting away from it all are your thing you will feel right at home at the Mountain Hostel Tarter. Located in the quiet little town El Tarter in the Pyrenees you are surrounded by mountains opulence. While it is remote, getting there is easy as there is a regular bus service from Andorra. El Tarter is perfect for outdoor fans as the location is ideal for hiking and mountain biking in summer and skiing and snowboarding in winter – a ski resort is right in front of the hostel!
Mountain Hostel Tarter was built on an old farm and is set in a rustic house with typical Andorran architecture over 200 years old. The inside, however, was recently restored to create a stylish hostel with modern amenities. Together it creates an enticing mix of old and new, tradition and design.
You have the choice between private rooms and 4, 5 or 6 people dorms – all come with comfortable beds and modern showers.
A highlight is the outdoor terrace that comes with spectacular mountain views, a barbecue area, hammocks and a heated Jacuzzi pool. And fear not – for the city slickers there is of course free broadband wifi available!

Find a room at Mountain Hostel Tarter here.

7. We_Bologna – Bologna, Italy

We_Bologna is a hostel and campus housing in the vibrant city of Bologna. As part of a new generation of hostels, it offers high-quality services at accessible prices, with private twin rooms and beds in 4-people dorms. All rooms come with an ensuite bathroom and air conditioning.
The campus housing has twin shared rooms with a desk at monthly rates for students. We_Bologna is close to the Bologna Centrale railway station, the city’s old town and of course to the university district. The hostel provides a bike rental service to explore the city and its surroundings. Common spaces are a kitchen, laundry facilities, a study room, a TV area and a workshop room, the reception is staffed 24 hours and of course, there is wifi in the social spaces and the bedrooms. A highlight is the big garden where the hostel hosts public events such as live concerts, DJ sets and expositions over the summer.
And what would a visit to Italy be without the food? Breakfast at We_Bologna is made from local products coming from selected suppliers, and the bar offers alternative breakfasts, taglieri, sandwiches and of course, aperitivios.

Book your room at We_Bologna here.

8. CODE – Edinburgh, Scotland

In the heart of Edinburgh close to famous Princes Street, you will find CODE hostel, perfectly located for a day of exploring the Scottish gem. To be fit for a city trip deluxe you will need a good night’s sleep and here is where CODE comes into play. CODE has taken the concept of pod beds to a new and should I say very stylish level. High-quality mattresses, duvets, pillows, and linens make for high-quality sleep! In addition, pod beds offer a lot more privacy than regular hostel bunks so even a princess on the pea can be a happy sleeper. A good night’s sleep at affordable prices is what CODE is synonymous with.

A great feature, especially for solo female travelers, is the secure keypad entry system. Each room can only be accessed with a special code (you saw that one coming, didn’t you?) which makes staying at CODE super secure and hassle-free.

Another highlight is the free breakfast with fresh bread from Breadshare bakery in Portobello. If you are feeling fancy – how about you make yourself a fresh waffle? Breakfast is served daily from 9 am to 11 am but for those who can actually tear themselves out of their pod early, they offer an early-bird breakfast too!

Book your pod at CODE here.

9. Maverick Hostel – Budapest, Hungary

Ever wanted to sleep in a royal mansion but at a backpacker price? Now you can – because Maverick hostel is located in a renovated royal mansion built by the Hapsburg dynasty in the heart of Budapest.
The interior merges modern design and historical style and many of Budapest’s most interesting sights can be reached within minutes. The area around the hostel is home to many small streets originating in the Middle Ages which now offer restaurants, traditional coffee houses, and bars.
You sleep in private rooms with ensuite bathrooms that are perfect for couples or small groups of friends. Alternatively, their dorm rooms are light and airy as they don’t come with typical bunk beds. How great is it to not be woken up by someone twisting and turning (or something worse…)  in the bunk above you?!
In addition to the usual array of common areas, Maverick offers a great range of activities. From walking tours to pub crawls and caving tours, they provide great ways to get in touch with other travelers and to explore the treasures of Budapest.

Book your room at Maverick here.

10. Swanky Mint Hostel – Zagreb, Croatia

Swanky Mint hostel is located in a renovated dry cleaning and textile-dye factory from the late 19th century. After being closed and abandoned for many years, the visionary Andrija Pirnat stumbled upon the building and decided to create a home for travelers from all over the world to bring the factory back to life.
Swanky Mint is in the heart of Zagreb and not only one of the city’s best hostels but the first with a swimming pool which you can enjoy in summer. Inside you will find factory features, industrial shapes, and original materials that pay homage to the building’s past as a factory and add a unique, creative touch. When creating the 15 rooms, the previous construction of the building was not hidden but displayed and preserved. A lot of the furniture you’ll find are either reused pieces or upcycled out of the old machinery.
You have the choice of shared dorms or private rooms and for those who need a little more space, Swanky offers funky apartments – all decorated in their unique, industrial style. In addition to the hostel, you will find the Swanky Monkey Garden bar under the same roof. This is the right spot for breakfast, a drink in the evening, socializing with locals, live music or a pub quiz.
The heart of the whole operation, however, are the people who work here. The amazing team strives to make every guest feel like part of the family and goes the extra mile with daily fun events in the bar and various tours around the city and Croatia.
Book your room at Swanky here.

* This post is brought to you in collaboration with the featured hostels.

This post was written by Annika Ziehen who was a Travelette until 2019. Originally from Germany, Annika has lived in New York and Cape Town and now travels the world full time. She considers herself a very hungry mermaid and writes about her adventures, scuba diving and food on her blog The Midnight Blue Elephant. You can also find her on Instagram here!