Our esteemed panel of judges handpicked these innovative hostel finalists and now it’s your turn… Who will be crowned with the EXTRAORDINARY Innovation Hostel award? Remember you’re not only doing an amazing thing by recognising these hostels as industry-leading innovators but by voting you’re also entering a competition to win the most incredible selection of travel treasures.
1. BUNK Utrecht (Netherlands)
What’s your religion? ‘Backpacker’, yes us too! Well disciples we have found our spiritual home and it’s in Bunk Utrecht. Once a church it’s now one of the most handsome hostels we’ve ever laid eyes on. More than that, their ethos is sound too, recognising the social role churches once played, they’ve taken that on and made sure their hostels are at the ‘beating heart of the community.’ How you ask? You might want to check out their Artist-in-residence programme, Co-working space and their Exhibition area. Their Amsterdam sister hostel (also in a church) has a non-profit recording studio where international artists make music and podcasts. Dreamy. They do all this while ensuring the historic beauty of the buildings are preserved, recycled materials are used, and any modifications can be flip reversed.
2. Maki Hostel Valparaiso (Chile)
Wild times call for creative measures and Maki Hostel in Chile innovated themselves into the largest hostel in Valparaiso in the most challenging of times. Even before COVID took hold, Maki Hostel was combatting a social uprising with demonstrations, looting and curfews. But the team realised that building a great hostel is a labour of love and amidst all that, they bonded over creating the city’s first-ever green terrace. When COVID forced Maki Hostel to close their doors, they didn’t give up, instead the team took courses and upskilled themselves with all the expertise they’d need to grow as soon as they could reopen. Their neighbouring hotel sadly shut down for good, but Maki dug deep and bought it, giving them 11 private rooms. Without backpackers, they turned their attention to the local market, creating two new concepts: ‘Maki Love’ and ‘Maki Suites.’ Phew – what a story, innovation champs for sure. Everyone should Maki Love a little more.
3. Eco-friendly Why Me Tbilisi (Georgia)
Putting the innovation into this destination, Eco-friendly Why Me Tbilisi has so many environmental projects on the go. Did you know you can make solar panels out of beer and soda cans? Well, you can and the hostel team goes litter-picking with guests and makes ‘pop can solar’ panels for local pensioners who can no longer afford their energy bills. As if that wasn’t enough, they have two H20tel Water Saving Awards, motion detectors to reduce CO2, and a nifty recycling system. We reckon their resourcefulness is impressive, making them true planet-saving innovators!
4. Attic Backpackers (New Zealand)
Attics are full of unexpected treasures and this hostel is no exception. I mean, whoever heard of a penthouse hostel with 360-degree panoramic views? Anyway, we’re not here to wanderlust over hostels for a change, we’re here to celebrate their innovation and Auckland’s Attic Backpackers has delivered. When New Zealand closed its borders in 2020, backpackers became almost as scarce as the nation’s beloved Kiwi bird, and hostels had to pivot to survive. The team at Attic Backpackers turned their attention to the local market, who are generally less open to sharing dorms, so they focused on group travellers. By capturing the stag and hen dos, sports groups, and friends on weekend escapes, they were able to book out their dorms and keep the hostel thriving.
5. ClinkNOORD (Netherlands)
From the moment they first turned a UK prison into a hostel, Clink have been industry-leading innovators. So, when the pandemic struck, these fast-thinking entrepreneurs didn’t waste any time before adapting into a fully functioning digital nomad and long-stay hub. Intrigued? Way more than the apocalyptic sounding digital nomads dancing in distanced silent discos, Clink totally remodelled their experience. Adding four new portable kitchens they were able to adapt to COVID-measures and produce healthy, locally sourced and budget-friendly menus. This was so successful, they started selling meals on UberEATS, serving the community too. In a move to keep the hostel as hygienic and safe as can be, they introduced Goki – a completely contactless check-in and lock system. To keep the long-stayers sociable Clink introduced no-less than 17 new events, ‘Glowga’ anyone?! (Glow-in-the-dark Yoga). All this, plus giving 1,000 free beds to volunteers in their ‘Shut up and listen’ initiative.
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: