Poshtels are taking over from backpacker hostels

A posh hostel — also known as a poshtel — is no longer an oxymoron. Here's the best that are out there.

  • Suzanne Sng
  • September 2018

Instead of squeaky bunks with zero privacy and back-to-basics showers, these upgraded luxury hostels now often boast well-equipped sleep pods, rain showers and even hot tubs.

More affordable than a three-star hotel, with more perks than a budget inn and more Instagram-worthy than your usual backpacker hostel, poshtels are the urban nomad’s top picks these days. After all, what’s not to like about free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast and cheap laundry service, and so-hipster- it-hurts designer decor?

From as little as USD$10 (SGD$13) a night, you get a bunk in a mixed dorm, often with privacy curtains, secure lockers and nifty phone-charging stations, and a shared bathroom with towels and toiletries so you can travel light. But do pack some earphones or earplugs, in case you have a roommate who snores like a freight train or yaks on long-distance calls home after midnight.

Fork out a little more and you can opt for female-only dorms or private rooms for two to four people, perfect for a family or group of friends.

Tucked away in prime locations, these properties are often housed in intriguing buildings full of character, such as former warehouses or historic shophouses. Other quirky perks include pool tables, movie nights, cool rooftop bars, 24-hour cafés offering local specialities, co-working spaces and, if you’re lucky, even a pool or a gym. But more than that, these poshtels offer an energetic vibe, an indie travel spirit and a chance to connect with fellow travellers, both young and young-at-heart.

Cool off in the pool

Lub d Cambodia Siem Reap is cool in more ways than one. One of the rare poshtels with its own swimming pool and swim-up bar, it is perfect for a refreshing dip after a sweltering day of sightseeing at Angkor Wat, just a 20-minute drive away. Part of the rapidly expanding Lub d chain from Thailand, this outpost is the largest hostel in Siem Reap, with 222 beds, from about SGD$12 for a bed in a mixed dorm. The decor? Think colourful Khmer chic. As with almost all poshtels, free wifi is a given, but if you need to get serious work done, there is also a co-working space.

Trainspotting in Taipei

The conveniently located Star Hostel Taipei Main Station opens in new window is, unsurprisingly, just a stone’s throw from the bustling train station, yet manages to be an oasis of Zen. After a day at the museum or a night at the markets nearby, relax with a nice cup of Chinese tea in wood- and-glass structures, set in a cavernous hall with natural light streaming in.

The minimalist pine look, paired with concrete and glass, is carried through to its dining area, bathrooms and spacious dorms with beds from NT$580 (SGD$26). Of special note are its triple rooms, perfect for when you don’t have the numbers to book a room for four people.

Colonial chic in Chinatown

Not only is Adler Singapore opens in new window in the heart of Chinatown, which makes it a great base for exploring, the former shophouse is also decorated in a style which transports you back to the island city’s past as a British colony. Started by an avid ‘posh packer’ in 2012, Adler has lots of leafy palm plants, wicker chairs and old-school artwork. This is not a party place and your privacy is respected. Sleep cabins of various sizes, from SGD$35, come with lights, charging points and black-out curtains you can draw for the most important thing – a good night’s sleep.

Pole dance in the lobby

The first thing you notice when you check in at Z Hostel opens in new window in Manila is a pole right smack in the middle of the lobby. In this lively poshtel, you can twirl around and do a spot of pole dancing, and no one will bat an eyelid. Up on the roof, a DJ spins at the bar with a killer view of the city lights, while the Z Cafe serves up Filipino fare like crispy adobo pork flakes, sisig (a dish with chopped pig’s head parts) and beef sinigang (a meat stew). Pay for your food and drinks with a swipe of the wrist, as guests can use radio-frequency identification bracelets for payments. Dorms for four, six or eight are available from USD$17 (SGD$23) per bed, as well as an all-female dorm with extra-large lockers, and double rooms.

Spend the night in ‘jail’

Experience prison life, sort of, when you check in to Sook Station in Bangkok. This poshtel takes its prison theme very seriously. Your mug shot is taken at check-in, where you are also issued black-and-white striped pyjamas and assigned an inmate number, instead of a room key. Your ‘cell’ has bunk beds, albeit comfy ones, and metal bars on the doors and windows. All this for about THB1,800 (SGD$74) for a room for two. While there is no prison-inspired yard for your daily exercises, the roof terrace with an outdoor hot tub offers plenty of socialising space. Normal double and family rooms are also available, but where’s the fun in that?