In an age where social connections and authentic experiences act as driving forces of self-definition, the hospitality industry is quickly adapting to create affordable and attractive accommodation to lure in a wanderlust generation.

Millennials are one of the largest growing travel segments and live and breathe carpe diem. The days of wearing flips flops into the shower and laying down sheets over hostel beds are over. Budget is no longer the driving factor for the experience-driven millennial.

The industry is seeing rapid growth of boutique and lifestyle hotels, shared accommodations like Airbnb, and the newly-coined “poshtels”—a blend between luxury living and budget-friendly hostels.

But when clean sheets, showers, and air conditioning no longer checks all the boxes for budget travelers, how do hostels that cannot afford luxury amenities beat out the competition? One answer: art.

While the hostel model can’t afford huge bathtubs, state of the art lighting, or luxury spas, its focus instead is to bring more art into spaces to encourage creative dialog, community, cultural connection, and something to write (*cough* Instagram) home about.


Castle Rock Hostel - Edinburgh, Scotland

Castle Rock Hostel - Edinburgh, Scotland - photo via

The use of art in hostels range from quirky collections in public areas to interactive art galleries that one needs only to roll out of bed to access like the Gallery Hostel in Porto, Portugal. Drawing on regionality and the need to fulfill travelers’ desire for cultural experiences, many hostels will showcase local artists with commissioned artwork or host art exhibitions and multi-day art events.

Gallery Hostel - Porto, Portugal - photo via

However, properties don’t need to have specific art programs or gallery spaces to succeed. Hostels are becoming increasingly adept at transforming once overlooked spaces into Instagram-able havens. Whether it is the focal point of the room, or an addition to the velvet upholstery and mismatched chairs, art can be a relatively inexpensive way to help achieve high-impact aesthetics. While Europe is leading the way with large chains such as the popular Generator hostel line, boutique spaces, too, are quickly popping up around the globe with art and design at the forefront.

Freehand Chicago - Chicago, Illinois - photo via

Freehand LA, Los Angeles - photo via

Soul Kitchen - St. Petersburg, Russia - photo via

The Jane Hotel - New York City - photo via

The Hat - Madrid, Spain- photo via

Generator Venice - Venice, Italy - photo via

Art Factory San Teimo - Buenos Aires, Argentina - photo via

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