In normal times (remember those?) starting a new business was challenging enough, but in 2020 *gasp*, it’s next level. We are in awe! Our panel of HOSCARs’ judges chose these five as the top-notch contenders to bag themselves their first award. A shiny new award, for a shiny extraordinary new hostel… who gets your vote?
1. Combo Milano (Italy)
Once upon a time, this hostel was a convent, so repent backpackers for you’ve undoubtedly sinned! This 12th-century building has been masterfully repurposed into one of Milan’s finest hostels, complete with two courtyards that have heaps of space for socially distanced conversations. Catering for the digital nomads, and local workers too, this hostel has a fancy co-working space in a greenhouse. Instead of buckling to 2020’s demands, Combo ran its programme filled with music, art, and literary events, but made sure they did it with the strictest of hygiene measures.
2. The Green Elephant Hostel (Netherlands)
Stay in a Tiny Dream House, contemplate life sat under the magnolia tree, explore the Urban Forest, and detox in a sauna. All this is possible in the wonderful new Green Elephant Hostel in Maastricht. This hostel is like an antidote to 2020, the perfect place to get a big boost of well-being, with its yoga and meditation room, ice-bath, Hamman, ice wall, micro-gyms, and their Restaurant Serendipity which serves almost 100% vegan meals. This new hostel has glamping festival vibes with an on-site vintage shop to prove it! It’s a true travelling oasis in this historic Dutch city.
3. oOstel Smart Hostel (Mexico)
As with so many great hostels, oOstel was built by backpackers for backpackers. After travelling the world together for 15 years, two friends had hostel dreams and this Smart Hostel in Tulum was born. After a brief spell of being open pre-pandemic, they had to close their doors, but they opened again in September 2020. Their courtyards are spacious and sociable, they have two pools, and the hostel is designed with our backpacking needs in mind. You’ll find double bunk beds with memory foam mattresses, a vanity space in every dorm with full-length mirrors, and weekly free events like their outdoor cinema and reggae nights.
4. Modal (USA)
It’s hard to believe this hostel is new considering all it’s achieved. Modal is a trailblazer, the first hostel in Greenville, South Carolina and an LGBTQIA+ friendly hub in this conservative state. Once a dentist’s office, it’s been revamped into a contemporary hostel and community creative hub, with an in-house art gallery and public cafe serving locally roasted coffee. At weekends Modal hosts a pop-up market, with local vendors selling plants, arts, crafts, and food. This hostel is as stylish as they come, designed to perfection, but it’s a hostel of substance as well as beauty, also one of our Extraordinary Inclusive Hostel finalists.
5. Ola Hostel Cebu (Philippines)
Ola Hostel Cebu, got off to a flying start in January 2020, quickly filling its rooms with happy travellers and claiming a ‘Fabulous’ rating on Hostelworld. Cebu is firmly on the backpacking trail, with its central Filipino island location and the team at Ola built this hostel to cater for 220 travellers at a time. There’s a theatre room, big swimming pool, basketball court, football area, yoga space and a huge resto-bar. When the pandemic struck, they provided a safe space to stay for travellers, celebrating their birthdays and hosting events until they were able to fly home. Then they opened their doors to medical frontliners, supporting their country in its time of need. This new hostel is a fine example of compassion and Filipino hospitality.
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: