Flashpackers - Hostels for the Discerning Backpacker

Written by  Kat Mackintosh

What happens when backpackers grow up? Once you’ve travelled to the uppers of your shoes and the hilt of your credit card and relied on the kindness of strangers you’re likely to balk at the idea of joining a tick box packaged holiday where you’re expected to follow someone holding something up on a stick to keep your group together, but equally you might not yet have the funds for that real adventure you aspire to. So what do you do in the mean time? City breaks are all good and well, but there are lots of us out there wanting to go backpacking with all the mod cons – so many in fact that this new hybrid has a name, ‘Flashpackers’.

And the hostel industry has responded. Design hostels like Hotel Grace, literally on Times Square and Oops! in Paris, both look the business – all bright colours and carefully selected trimmings – and offer designer services, like a pool with a DJ bar next to it and a “first class lounge” with business meeting facilities. The Czech Inn may have a borderline cringe worthy name, but its modern bar, with exposed brick and chunky art which serves seven local beers is definitely aimed at the more discerning backpacker. As is the Base in Melbourne - glorious in red glass and concrete, it has a Sanctuary for women where you can get a proper pampering after hitting the gym.

I don’t personally travel without my laptop. But while once it was only travel writers hassling hostel staff for access to a power point for their chargers and a modem cable, now power and internet access are expected by all, and again the industry has responded to the technology our improved income has saddled us with. As well as your own power point, an impossible luxury five years ago, the Purple Nest in Valencia also has a DVD library; and instead of all crowding round to look at the latest photos you’ve downloaded from your digital camera onto your laptop, at Lub D in Bangkok they’ll hook you up to the big flat screen in the foyer for a very flashy, very modern hostel holiday slide show.

On the other side of the boho / techno divide are hostels like Daddy Long Legs in Cape Town, ROOM in Rotterdam and Rooms Delux and the Hilux Hostel, both in Valencia, where each room has been decorated by a different local artist in a different theme. None of those themes are "hostel circa 1970’s, 80’s or 90’s" either.

Yes, you have to pay more to stay in one of these hostels, but we’re all getting that bit more civilised in our slightly-older-than-we-were-when-we-could-cope-with-queuing- for-a-cold-shower age.

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