Flashpacker hostels where the bed bugs don’t bite
If you want to travel around Asia on a backpacker budget but without the bedbugs and stinky dorm rooms, you’ll be impressed by 7 of the top Poshtels in Asia which have all been favorably reviewed by travelers, and can all be booked online ahead of your trip. In case you haven’t caught up with the latest in travel terminology, a Poshtel is what my generation called a “flashpacker hotel” … somewhere that’s cheap but does not skimp on the comfort.
The rise of travel review websites like TripAdvisor has made it increasingly hard for low-quality backpacker hostels to continue to operate successfully. Smart travelers want to see the reviews from fellow travelers before they book and a string of bad reviews will very quickly destroy any accommodation business. But poshtels are more than tarted up backpacker hostels.
Poshtels are often purpose-designed, purpose-built hostels or hotels based in unusual buildings like old warehouses or converted offices where the emphasis is on design and comfort. The rooms are clean and spacious with good facilities. Many have a bar, cafe or restaurant, and even a swimming pool, and they pride themselves as much on their food as their beds and their affordable room rates.
We’ve chosen what we believe are the 7 top Poshtels in Asia to give you an idea of where this trend is heading.
Shophouse the Social Hostel, Singapore
The big surprise of Shophouse the Social Hostel in Arab Street, Singapore, is its convenience. Arab Street is right in the heart of Singapore and it’s very hard to even find budget hotels this close to the city center, let alone one of this standard. A shophouse is very close to Bugis MRT Station and Masjid Sultan street.
The hostel has 6-bed mixed dorms and 12-bed male or female dorms (males are not welcome in the female dorms, by the way) with comfortable beds, even if there’s not a lot of room between them. Each dorm bed comes with a personal locker big enough to store a reasonable size backpack, a reading light, and a power outlet to charge your phone while you sleep.
There’s air-conditioning and good free WiFi internet on every floor of the Shophouse. You can access handy shared conveniences like a hair dryer, an ironing board, and an iron to tidy up during your stay.
A cute feature of this poshtel is the “donation box” in the shared bathroom where travelers leave behind things they no longer need, like travel adapters and guide books, as a paying it forward benefit for others. You never quite know what you’ll find in the box from soaps and shampoos to sunscreen and insect repellent. It’s great!
Rooms facing Arab Street can be pretty noisy as the street is alive and buzzing until well after 3AM every night. Also, the shared bathrooms can get a bit grotty when the Shophouse is busy.
The rooftop breakfast area overlooks Beach Road and offers a nice, simple breakfast of toast with butter and spreads, basic cereals, tea, and coffee to get you started for the day. There’s also a cafe called Working Title on the ground floor that has great food and you get a 20% guest discount.
The rooftop area also has books to read and games to play if you need to fill in some time. You can even settle into a hammock and have a snooze!
Hostel 64, Osaka, Japan
Hostel 64 in Nishi-Ku, the bay area of Osaka, is a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner. The hostel is trendy and beautifully designed with a different theme on each floor. The location is very convenient, an easy walk to Nishinagahori or Awaza subway stations or the Namba shopping area.
The rooms are big and clean and very comfortable. Dorm beds are single-level and offer some privacy with a curtain between each bed. The walls are pretty thin, as in most places in Japan, so you’ll hear what’s going on in the next room. A safe box is provided to store your valuables but unfortunately, there are no lockers. There’s also no elevator, so you have to carry your bags upstairs (although staff will help when they can).
There’s only one bathroom and toilet on each floor but they are uniquely designed, and clean and the basic necessities like soap, shampoo, towels, and even ear plugs are provided for each guest. There’s a hair dryer tucked under the sink if you need it. Up on the rooftop, there’s even a laundry where you can wash and dry your clothes using coins.
WiFi internet is available but can be a little patchy in places. If you want the best of the WiFi, plant yourself in the lounge area for a while and enjoy a relaxing spell in the massage chair.
Breakfasts are simple but nice, with homemade bread, but are not included in the room rate.
Koh Tao Loft Hostel, Thailand
Located on the resort island of Koh Tao, the Koh Tao Loft Hostel is right on the pier and only 50 meters off the beach. It offers 6-bed semi-private pod-style dorms with room dividers and curtain screens, each with its own fan, reading light, table, and power outlet. Some dorms even have to air-condition.
The hostel is designed as loft accommodation so it’s pretty trendy and quite different from other hostels in Thailand. The dorms are clean, modern, and well laid out with big shared bathrooms and strong, hot showers.
The hostel has its own cafe/bar which offers good Thai spicy curries and chicken salad wraps. They also offer Thai-style western breakfasts but the food is pretty good. There’s also an outdoor patio on the second floor to relax on.
Local Stitch Hongdae, Seoul, South Korea
Located in the Mapo-Gu district of Seoul, the Local Stitch Hongdae is presented as a minimalist design building but very nice. Its location just 250 meters from Hongik University makes it a popular hostel for students and means it pulls a young crowd most of the time. It’s also very close to Hongkit University bus station with direct links to the airport.
The Local Stitch offers a choice of single rooms and twin rooms with shared bathrooms or double rooms with private bathrooms. The hostel was designed by a couple of young Korean architects who are the owners and their style is very obvious. The hotel’s style is like a renovated warehouse.
There is a great little bakery and patisserie underneath the Local Stitch and the hostel itself has a breakfast table on the third floor. But the location on the edge of the Hongdae means there are lots of little cafes, restaurants, and boutique eateries within easy walking distance.
Loftel 22, Bangkok, Thailand
Located in a former traditional Chinese residence just 10 minutes walk from China Town and Little India, Loftel 22 is a boutique budget hostel inspired by Chinese and Portuguese local shop house designs (Talad Noi). Loftel 22’s great position close to the Chao Phraya River, Huamlamphong Railway Station, and downtown Bangkok makes it a pretty special place to stay.
Loftel 22 offers mixed dorms, 4-bed male or female dorms, twin rooms and double rooms with air-conditioning, and a private terrace or a family room to accommodate four people. They offer free luggage storage for early or late check-ins and check-outs and have a 24-hour front desk. The hostel is secured using swipe card entry and CCTV cameras.
The concept bathrooms are shared but the showers are hot and strong and have flow control heads and guests are provided with free toiletries.
There is good WiFi in most areas of the hostel and you can use the computers near reception to access the internet if you need to. Up on the roof, there’s a patio area where you can relax, but be aware that it’s also a smoking area.
Quip B&B Phuket, Thailand
Located in the popular Hat Yai district of Phuket, Quip Bed and Breakfast can be a bit of a shock when you first walk in as the loft/warehouse design has been pushed to the limit with whitewashed walls, open pipes in the ceilings and old TVs for decorations. But it’s a good shock. Just more like Amsterdam than Phuket.
There are no dorm rooms here, just a choice of double or twin rooms and one family room to accommodate four people. The rooms are quirky too with king-size beds, weird artwork on the walls, raw concrete ceilings, and furniture built between water pipes. But again it’s quirky good. You’ll either love it or hate it.
There’s a big cafe and bar on the ground floor that doubles as a breakfast area with a British theme including a gold Morris Major and a huge chandelier! The rooftop bar/cafe area is definitely one of the highlights of Quip B&B with lots of tables and chairs set around a partly-covered patio. Guests get a free cocktail on the rooftop.
There are lots of cafes and restaurants close by as well as a shopping center and some travel agencies where you can book well-priced tours to Koh Phi Phi and other attractions.
Kayun Hostel Downtown, Legian, Bali
Located a short walk from popular Legian Beach, just north of Kuta Beach, the Kayun Hostel Downtown is not to be confused with the grander award-winning Kayun Hostel in Kuta itself. The design of this little sister hostel is definitely retro chic with black and white checked floors, art deco curved chairs and tables, club lounges with lots of scatter cushions, and a touch of industrial thrown in with big metal light fittings hanging down from the ceilings.
At heart, this is still a hostel, with the usual dorm rooms full of tiered bunk beds and huge shared bathrooms, but very fresh and clean, tastefully designed, and nicely presented. The dorm rooms are air-conditioned and each bunk has its own reading light, a power outlet, and a privacy curtain. You can choose between 6-bed, 8-bed, 14-bed, and 20-bed mixed dorms or a 12-bed female dorm. There are no private rooms.
The hostel’s facilities include free WiFi in the common areas, a cafe, and a plunge pool as well as tour bookings and scooter hire. Beds come with a free breakfast with lots of choices. There is also good food available in the hostel’s own cafe.
Be aware that it can be a bit loud because of the bar next door playing music until the wee hours, so if you’re a light sleeper you should take earplugs.
If you know about other poshtels we should include in our list, let us know in the comments below.