European Travel > Flash Packing - The New Backpacking

Flash Packing -
The New Backpacking

By ELIZABETH TILLEY
Published: October 13, 2008

FORGET back packing, flash packing is the new way to see the world on a budget – and in style.

Once associated only with a lifestyle of dirty sheets, dodgy rooms and smelly clothes, back packers are now more likely to be treated to indoor spa and sauna facilities, cosmetic bags and first-class views from their dorm windows.

So-called luxury and upscale hostels are popping up everywhere to cater for the growing number of Generation Ys quitting their jobs, packing up their lives and searching for something bigger and better.

They expect the best, on a budget, and the super competitive hostel accommodation market is lifting its standards to cater to it.

Hedi Kompolti, manager of Aventura Hostel in Budapest, says there were 40 hostels in the city when she opened in 2006, but that number had since grown to more than 100.

"It's no longer just; 'Here's a bed, now go to sleep," Kompolti says.

Here are some of the best in Eastern Europe:

PLUS PRAGUE, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

One of the newest hostels in Eastern Europe, and possibly the first to put the word luxury in its title, is Plus Prague Luxury Hostel.

More of a hotel than a hostel, but at hostel prices, this new addition to the backpacker accommodation market offers guests free continental buffet breakfasts, free cosmetic bags on arrival, free use of an indoor pool and sauna, a girls only chill out room, free wireless and free happy hour internet use and a beach volleyball court.

It has its own private bar and restaurant, which turns into a 24 hour nightclub after dark that would give most of Brisbane's a run for their money.

I'd recommend giving the restaurant a miss and avoid being stung by its food and drink prices by venturing into central Prague to try some genuine local cuisine and meet a Czech mate.

Cleverly, the hostel is located far enough away from the centre of town to be tempted to stay and party the night away with the bevy of pretty, young things drinking mojitos in make-up, heels and mini dresses.

Thats right, it seems even the once obligatory backpacker attire of shorts and sandals is no longer.

All this for around the equivalent of $24 Australian dollars per person per night, depending on how many people you are prepared to share a room with.

Since opening in April 2007, it has quickly made a name for itself, securing regular business from major bus tour groups including Contiki, Busabout and Top Deck.

www.plusprague.cz.

HOSTEL 99, CESKY KRUMLOV, CZECH REPUBLIC

Self-dubbed an upscale hostel, Hostel 99 in the magical village of Cesky Krumlov is an experience not to be missed.

Located directly inside the Budejovicka gate in the UNESCO protected medieval town, it is one of the most accessible and adorable accommodation options.

The dorm rooms here are fairly standard, but for not much more, you can hire its private apartment, which is a brand new, separate addition to the hostel.

As well as offering a spacious bedroom and kitchen area finished with polished timber floors, it has a sparkling ensuite attached (complete with a giant bottle of shower gel and shampoo which is not to be scoffed at when you are backpacking), a washing machine, a fire place and an incredible view of the Czech Republics second largest castle from its windows.

This writer fell in love with the place at first sight and decided to cancel a future booking in another town to stay an extra night.

The hostel has its own restaurant and deli, catering to guests and tourists, and the food was outstanding in terms of price, quality and quantity.

I had one of the best steaks I have eaten there for the Australian equivalent of $22.

For $17, you can hire a raft through the hostel staff and be driven 12km to be dropped upstream to spend the afternoon cruising the dazzling river, lined with quaint pensions and cafes, which weaves a horse-shoe shape through the town of just 14,600 people.

This is a must-do activity that is one of the highlights of visiting this hostel and Cesky Krumlov.

Come here to unwind, but be warned, you may never want to leave.

www.hostel99.com

For more information, visit www.czechtourism.cz.

HOTEL MARYLA, SOPOT, POLAND

Separated from the beach only by a 200m wide stretch of lush parkland, this 40-bed hotel is situated in Sopot's seaside playground.

This secesian villa was once the home of Wilhelm II, the King of Prussia and the Emperor of Germany, and it certainly has a royal charm about it.

It has an inviting white exterior, large bay windows in every room laced with planter boxes overflowing with flowers, deep bath tubs and offers a cooked breakfast of ham/bacon and eggs and unlimited amounts of fresh bread and jam included in the price of a night's stay.

Sopot is where Poland's rich and famous come to play, and very few backpackers go to visit, which is surprising given its location and holiday atmosphere.

Consequently, it offers only hotels not hostels, and Hotel Maryla is one of the best value in town at around AUD$50 per person per night for a triple room.

Hotel Maryla is a 15 minute walk from the main street of Monte Cassino - a place for people watching, sunbathing on the beach, consuming copious quantities of gelati or taking a walk along the longest wooden pier in Europe.

www.hotel.sopot.pl

AVENTURA HOSTEL, BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

In only it's third year of operation, this hostel was made for the modern traveller who likes to feel at home.

It is owned and run by two, well-travelled laidback women, who go out of their way to make their guests feel welcome.

For a small fee, they will wash and iron your laundry – even going to the extent of making your beds and leaving the freshly washed clothes neatly folded on top of them.

They buy fresh bread rolls for breakfast every day and pack guests a juice and a snack in a paper bag "for the road''.

Ask them just about anything and they will do it willingly for you, whether it be making a reservation at a restaurant or looking up train times.

Unlike most hostels, Aventura has no bunk beds, and each dorm carries a different theme.

There's a Space Room (feels like you're sleeping under the stars), an Africa Room, a India Room and a private Japan Room.

You can even have an in-hostel massage on request.

On the downside, the hostel is quite difficult to find as it only has a tiny sign above a door which blends into the streetscape, and it might not be your scene if you love your privacy.

www.aventurahostel.com.

Comments

1. Anonymous on October 18, 2008

Backpacking is certain ly not what it used to be - does not have to be. The Plus Prague Luxury Hostel is on my list. PT

2. Anonymous on October 19, 2008

Hostel 99 Cesky Krumlov sounds great!!! It is accessible, has great facilities, has a great view and an economical restaurant, especially for steak lovers.

Fay

3. Sam on October 20, 2008

This is really interesting! On my last trip around Europe I didn't make it to most of those countries, so when I finally get back I hope they are still there, and more to boot! Thanks for the info.

4. Al on November 2, 2008

Nice round up, definitely interested in Prague, will have to czech them out next time I visit.

Any Comments?


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