Budget-conscious travelers rejoice: Hostels aren't what they used to be.
Forget cafeteria-style meals, windowless rooms and the college dormitory approach to decor. Think more along the lines of handcrafted cocktails by the pool, complimentary bike rentals and design so stylish you'd swear you were in a boutique hotel.
In other words, the modern-day hostel will wow you. But get this -- they are still affordable. Plus, many offer the same amenities as hotels: private rooms, concierge service, Wi-Fi, restaurants, bars and more.
Kex Hostel -- Reykjavik, Iceland
Good things happen when a group of buddies, including filmmakers and former soccer players, get together to design a hostel inside an old biscuit factory.
Their grand scheme: to create a place where locals and travelers could hang out, have beer and experience the awesome quirkiness of Reykjavik. The result: a cult following.
More often than not, guests will catch a band playing in the bar area or at Gym& Tonic, a small venue within Kex equipped with old-school punching bags (it also doubles as an art gallery and movie theater).
Then there's the occasional pop-up concert. In fact, Russell Crowe once showed up to belt out some tunes with rock legend Patti Smith. Even comedian Ben Stiller has been seen there nursing a pint of local stout.
Don't worry: There are peaceful activities, too. Like yoga and meditation. There's even a retro barbershop so you can go home looking snazzy.
Skulagata 28, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland.
From about $25.
U Hostels, Madrid -- Madrid
The fact that this hostel is in a 19th-century palace should tell you something.
The fact that the owner is a former backpacker himself will tell you even more. In other words, the space is unique and inviting and caters to its audience.
Better yet, it's within walking distance of Madrid's uber-trendy Malasana, Fuencarral and Chueca neighborhoods.
Inside the hostel, the whitewashed walls are bright and inviting. The rooms are spacious and stylish with a clean, minimalist design. Bike rentals are available as well as group outings to flamenco shows and free tours of the city each morning.
At the end of the day, kick back in the hostel's private cinema room. Or check out the chillout zone, which is stocked with books and a huge magnetic map, where you can plot your excursions for the next day.
Not your cup of tea? Grab a cocktail at the onsite bar and make a beeline for the rooftop terrace.
C/ Sagasta, 22, 28004, Madrid.
From about $20.
Generator Venice -- Venice, Italy
This high-style hostel, in a 19th century grain house on the island of Giudecca, has loads of character and plenty of history. Outside, it has the charm of yesteryear and views of Laguna Veneta, the enclosed bay of the Adriatic Sea.
Inside, there are exposed, original wooden beams, worn metals and cozy seating.
Thrifty hipsters will appreciate that this place hasn't skimped on design; there are customs decor elements throughout that make for a fun, creative atmosphere.
Better yet, freebies abound. Guests get complimentary Wi-Fi, continental breakfast, secure lockers, live music and art shows. And the in-house cafe serves Venetian-style tapas, filling pasta dishes and glorious focaccia breads.