The term hostel might conjure images of backpackers, cramped and dingy
quarters and few amenities.
But some hostels in Singapore are going upmarket and boutique to cater to a
new group of guests who are looking for luxury on a modest budget.
Nowadays, hostels have mood lighting within pod-like bunk beds to personal
key-cards like those used in hotels and thematic rooms.
Operators say boutique hostels attract traditional backpackers as well as
new-age "flashpackers" - backpackers who have a larger budget for accommodation
Mr Heng Chong Boon, owner of Wink, says: "These travellers are willing to
pay more, but not to the extent of sacrificing the amount (of money) required
to visit the main attractions in the country or city."
Mr Heng adds that this new breed of hostel guests want to socialise and meet
new people within a hostel environment and they value comfort.
Sometimes, there are even ladies-only lounges, roof gardens and cafes, which
make unique party venues.
While these hostels are attracting overseas guests, locals, too, are
visiting the venues for a variety of reasons, including birthday parties, art
exhibitions and staycations.
But operators say competition is stiff. About four years ago, there were
only 10 hostels in Singapore, estimates Mr Ee from Bunc hostel. Now, there are
67 local hostels listed on hostel directory hostelworld.com.
With this competition in mind, Mr Heng says that it is important that
hostels these days differentiate themselves with a distinct character and a
story to tell.
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look at the changing face of hostels in Singapore.
New generation boutique hostel, Bunc Hostel, is located in a shophouse at
Adrian Ee, general manager of Bunc Hostel (seen here) says that when it comes
to setting the hostel apart, it's all about the little details. Take, for
example, the two rows of computer terminals which flank the entrance of Bunc.
On one side are three Mac desktop computers, and on the other, three Windows
PCs. "This is to cater to both groups of users, so that they don't have to
switch from their usual preferences," says Mr Ee, who adds that usage is free.
From L to R: Korean travellers Ms Bora Shin and Ms Jiyoung Yoon, who are in
their 20s, are sitting at the long table at Bunc's common area, discussing
where they should visit in Singapore. This is also the area where guests can
have breakfast and interact with other travellers.
South Korean guests at Bunc Hostel.
Lobby area at Bunc Hostel where guests check-in, as well as hang out with one
another on the couches.
A traveller making his way to his dormitory.
Guests use key cards to access their rooms.
A dormitory room at Bunc Hostel, which features oil-based air fresheners and
bug-resistant pillow and mattress covers.
Guests resting at the playroom in Bunc Hostel, located in Little India.