Hostels welcome travellers from all around the world and we believe they are some of the most inclusive environments you could ever wish to be in. However, hostel staff, like us, are always learning, becoming mindful of our own unconscious biases, and growing as a result. The HOSCARs’ judges selected the following five hostels as fine examples of hostels getting inclusivity right. Which one gets your vote for Extraordinary Inclusive Hostel 2021?
1. Modal (USA)
South Carolina’s, Greenville, may not seem like an obvious choice to form an LGBTQIA+ hostel, with its conservative values and archaic anti-gay resolution. Yet, that is why it’s brilliant, brave and a pocket of rainbow-infused hope for travellers and locals too. The hostel’s founder, Joe Hindman, has quite a story, born into a strict Southern Baptist community he suppressed his identity as a gay man for 25 years until travel and the hostelling experience helped him claim his identity. More than just a safe space for the Queer community, Modal celebrates diversity by hosting events like social-distanced drag nights and pop-up markets to support local artists. You’ll find many of the hostel staff are LGBTQIA+ and the vibe warm, friendly, and inclusive to all. This hostel may well make it into the history books, as Joe’s aiming to impact the social and political scene across rural South-eastern USA.
2. Draper Startup House (India)
Bangalore is renowned for being India’s high-tech industrial centre, so ideal for a hostel with a huge goal to enable one million entrepreneurs by 2030. Draper Startup House’s motto is ‘Go big, give back, drive progress’, and it does this by opening its doors, offering affordable accommodation and community as a way into the business world. They recognise that diversity of ideas and inclusivity of all people is of real value to the start-up scene, and power young professionals by equipping them with skills, facilitating networking events, and providing co-working spaces to encourage collaboration.
3. INOUT Hostel (Spain)
Barcelona’s INOUT Hostel is in Collserola Park, which means it’s a peaceful retreat. The team realised that the natural inclusivity of hostels and the open-minded travelling community who stay in them was an opportunity. A chance for non-profit Icària Initiatives Socials to create an accessible hostel and a place of employment for people with disabilities. With over 100 accessible beds, adapted bathrooms, elevators and ramps, INOUT Hostel opens up the hostelling experience to many more travellers. Currently, 50 members of the team are registered as disabled and play crucial roles in the running of this beautiful hostel. The hostel team says it best: ‘Diversity and inclusion are part of our reason for being. At INOUT Hostel everyone fits, we all serve and add value, everyone is welcome.’
4. Ember Hostel (USA)
Hostels (like people) come in all shapes and sizes and Ember just so happens to be in a grand historic mansion in Denver. Battling the pandemic, the revolt against police brutality and a government rolling back many of its citizens’ civil rights, this hostel made inclusivity its priority. In 2020 they employed 15 BiPOC and 9 people who identify as LGBTQIA+. Importantly, this hostel’s leadership team is 50% Black and their focus is on representing their guests and the city they’re based. When guests arrive, they sign the hostel’s zero-tolerance policy against discrimination, so everyone can feel safe and supported. They’ve also partnered with a programme called ‘Network Nola’, which provides travel experiences for the city’s underprivileged Black youth, and also ‘Queer in the World’, offering a travel guide to their queer guests.
5. Kinlay House Hostel (Ireland)
Galway’s Kinlay House Hostel celebrates its diverse range of nationalities through hearty homemade dinners. With a team made up of ten different nationalities, they spotted an opportunity to educate through food, and what’s more inclusive than a hostel communal dinner? ‘Nothing’ we hear a million backpackers call back. As well as bringing everyone together, it fuels conversation about native countries, customs and ways of living. In addition to dinner times, this hostel is inclusive through and through with a gender-neutral toilet and shower, and staff with preferred pronouns on display. They’ve also been selected to host the Union of Students in Ireland’s Pink Training, Europe’s largest LGBT+ conference.
Have you cast your vote? Once you’re done, head back to explore more EXTRAORDINARY HOSCARs finalists, or have a read through their entries in these posts: