The new school of hostels makes it easier to turn fly-through cities into sleepover destinations
Upscale hostels are popping up in big layover cities like Paris, New York, and Istanbul, giving you an easy excuse to turn a connecting flight into an overnight stay. They come with amenities similar to hotels, are affordable and centrally located, and give you easy access the local life.
From Charles de Gaulle: 40-minute taxi (approximately $45); 30-minute metro (approximately $10.50)
Rates: Bed in shared room, $25; suite with two beds and balcony, $140
There’s no stopping in wannabe biking world capital Paris without seeing it. In the buzzy 10th arrondissement, head to Generator, which has cushy beds and sleek penthouse suites with terraces. Its common spaces have all the makings of the full Parisian experience: sit-down restaurant serving local fare, subterranean bar (glass of wine: $6.50), and rooftop terrace.
From Keflavík International: 45-minute taxi (approximately $109); 75-minute bus (approximately $3, exact fare required)
Rates: Bed in shared room, $35; single room with shower, $185
Plenty of low-cost flights to London pass through Iceland’s biggest city, which is also a design mecca. At Kex, the smart vintage-meets-modern aesthetic will immediately pop right out. You’ll enjoy ocean or mountain views from the private rooms. Chill out on the heated outdoor patio, or rent one of the hostel’s bikes. They can also set you up with mountain biking tours that hit the trails just outside the city center.
Brooklyn, New York
New York Loft Hostel
From JFK: 30-minute taxi ($52); 75-minute subway ($7.50)
From LGA: 20-minute taxi (approximately $30)
Rates: Bed in shared room, $50; twin private en suite, $140
New York’s size could intimidate you into never leaving the airport, but the NYLH in Bushwick, Brooklyn, makes things a lot easier. The hostel offers a sprawling lawn with sun beds, gym access, and edgy New York designs in each room. It’s two blocks to the L train into Manhattan (famed for its incredible people watching). Also an easy walk: the up-and-coming shops and restaurants on Grand Street and the everyone’s-invited kickball scene in McCarren Park. It books up quickly, so plan accordingly.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
From Schiphol: 15-minute taxi (approximately $45); 30-minute tram ($8)
Rates: Bed in mixed six-bed dorm, $61; deluxe private room, $121
Amsterdam Schiphol, a popular layover spot for flights to Africa and Asia, is renowned for its easy tram access to the city center. Head to Cocomama, just steps from the hip, centrally located Fredericksplein hood. It’s a former brothel surprisingly drenched in sunlight. All the rooms have been designed with Dutch themes like “Red Light District” or “KLM,” and even though you can put down one-euro beers in the garden bar, it still maintains a chill vibe.
From Ataturk: 40-to-90-minute taxi (from $35); one-hour bus (Havatas) (approximately $5.50)
From Sabhia Gokcen: One-hour taxi (approximately $35), 90-minute bus (Havatas) (approximately $5.50)
Rates: Bed in four-bed dorm, $18; private room with terrace, $83
Istanbul is a common touchdown between Europe and Asia or Africa, and, yes, it is enormous, but the better parts can be tackled in a few days. Base at the quiet, 11-room #BunkBeyoglu, located in the cafe-rich Beyoglu neighborhood. If it’s fully booked, go for the livelier 45-room #BunkTaksim in the more bar-centric Taksim district. When you see both hostels’ terraces, minimal but stylish rooms, and lounges that blend with the bohemian surroundings, you’ll forgive the “#” in the name. Both are about 25 minutes via tram or a great 90-minute wander to sightseeing in Istanbul’s Old City.