At ﬁrst sight, the Oddsson hostel has an unusual appearance. Housed in a former warehouse in Iceland’s Reykjavik, the establishment proudly displays its stark contours of brickand rough concrete. With 230 rooms artistically arranged by the Icelandic designers of the Döðlur studio, the decor is based on a palette of greys and blues borrowed from frozen seascapes. Immersed in the same tones, the convivial spaces incorporate an eclectic selection of furniture from the grand masters of 20th-century design. Here, art work by the likes of Le Corbusier, Saarinen, Paulin, Sottsass and even Rietveld provide a reﬁned welcome to visitors. For those unmoved by paintings, though, other creative temptations beckon: the hotel restaurant features a karaoke lounge with two-way mirrors — which is sound proof! This means that you can watch what the audience will see of your performance in the mirror, but with the reassuring knowledge that no one can hear you if you miss a note.
Hringbraut 121, 101, Reykjavik
Overlooking the Oosterpark to the east of the Dutch capital, the Generator Amsterdam hostel restores the image of so-called youth hostels. Housed in what was formerly one
of the University of Amsterdam’s zoology buildings, the 168-room establishment retains the austere façade of a building devoted to the study of natural sciences. Entrusted to the care of the Dutch ﬁrm Idea Ontwerp architects, the renovation of the site makes skilful use of the original structure. Long corridors, wide marble staircases and huge surfaces covered with terrazzo begin a second life here under more subdued lighting. Punctuated with works of art and wall frescos harmoniously combined with the furniture creations of contemporary design’s young guard, the new layout challenges a hitherto established order. Today, what used to be the library has become a games room, and the old boiler room in the basement has been transformed into a night club… Hot nights guaranteed!
Mauritskade 57, 1092 AD, Amsterdam
Located in the immediate vicinity of the Piazza del Duomo, the Giulia hotel can boast of having been set out entirely by Patricia Urquiola. This establishment offers the comfort of
its 85 rooms to a clientele eager for strong and boldly combined colours. Adorned with pieces that the Spanish architect designed for major furniture manufacturers such as Cassina, Kartell, Moroso and Flos, the decor involves an elegant patchwork of precious and warm materials. While the brick tones will evoke, for some, the dominant colours of the city, connoisseurs will notice that the lobby’s pink marble ﬂoor imitates that of the famous cathedral nearby. The bedrooms also become exhibition spaces for the works of Milan artists and photographers. Here again, panelling, wardrobes in iridescent metal and chequered textiles from the Kvadrat company surround the happy user with comfort. In summary, a hotel experience with a high level of perceived quality.
Via Silvio Pellico 4, 20121, Milano
In 2014, when local investors chose to renovate a dilapidated 19th-century mansion in the heart of Istanbul, they breathed new life into Papa Roncalli Sokak street, with bars and restaurants popping up as a result of the new hostel’s success. Named #bunk taksim, the venue — as the hashtag would imply — it is aimed squarely at the millennial market. The brainchild of award-winning Austrian architect Brigitte Weber, the ultra-clean and minimalist interior, with splashes of glossy red colour, channels an arousing and arty atmosphere. In this vast 170-room property, Weber was also keen to maintain the character of the restored building despite her modernist approach, so ceiling frescos have been restored and a number of original features remain.
A short walk from the bohemian neighbourhood of Beyoğlu, #bunk taksim also has a vast roof terrace, elevated above the sprawling metropolis, which after sunset morphs into a pulsating nightspot.
Papa Roncalli Sokak, Istanbul, Turkey
City Circus is situated in the faded 19th-century splendour of Athens’ Psirri theatre district and aims to make you feel like you’re part of a family. In fact, they want their guests to feel like they’re living under a circus big top. The property is actually an imposing, neoclassical mansion, restored to its former glory in 2012. The interior is a cacophony of wooden ﬂoors, Baroque tiles and antiques, with local artworks adorning the walls.
The 19 rooms have clean and simple wooden furniture, and range from private doubles to shared eight-bed dorms. The faintly subversive sense of the fun is hinted at with large murals depicting circus life dotted around the property. This theatrical sense is further accentuated by Zampanó restaurant, which is inspired by the tragic circus performer and main protagonist from Federico Fellini’s cinematic masterpiece La Strada (The Road). Oh, and the roof terrace has incredible views of the Acropolis.
16 Sarri St, Athens, Greece
An acronym for ‘The Backpackers in Green Point’, Big sits in an affluent neighbourhood, teeming with life. The district of Green Point is also known for its abundance of trendy, young professionals and Big reflects this sense of progressiveness. Mosaic tiles greet you on the staircase in a number of languages, saying anything from “hoi” to “konnichiwa”. The property itself conveys a rustic sense of chic, with natural woods and neutral hues contrasted with splashes of vibrant colour. Big is located just a few kilometres from Clifton’s famous beaches and is within walking distance of Cape Town’s city centre. With terraces, gardens and even a swimming pool, the hostel is suitably in tune with the Mother City’s outdoorsy culture. Combining the great outdoors with gastronomy is a “braai”. Essentially the Afrikaans word for “barbecue”, no Cape Town braai would be complete without including a local seafood favourite, Crayfish tails.
18 Thornhill Rd, Cape Town, South Africa