Hostelling drags itself into the 21st century with Generator

Strangely enough, hostelling is not something that I usually cover on Head for Points.  That didn’t stop a PR company sending me a pile of information on Generator Hostels.  To be honest, it looks pretty good!

I was one of those kids who hated hostels.  When I was young, poor and travelling, I would generally seek out the nearest flea-pit fire-trap hotel rather than check into a hostel.  In those pre-internet days, that generally involved arriving in a city without a reservation (because you didn’t have the money to telephone abroad to enquire) and then banging on enough doors until you found something cheap and vaguely acceptable.

Generator 2

In 2015, hostels are big money.  Generator is owned by Patron Capital, a private equity group.  It currently has over 6,000 beds in nine properties.

They call them ‘urban design hostels’ –

“The design of each Generator property is individual to its location, expertly created to reflect its surrounding neighborhood and culture – in Generator’s words, “we aim to respect the soul of the city we are in”.

The use of the social spaces is also key to the philosophy of Generator. Whether travelling alone, on business or with a partner, all Generators are places with gregarious spaces, designed to instigate social serendipity. Axiomatically, Anwar’s design draws people into the gloriously furnished social spaces where they lounge, surf, chat, play games, eat and drink, relax, read, watch TV and see great live entertainment.”

Generator 1

The pictures in this piece are of the London property in a mews near Russell Square.  If I was 18 again, I would go for it.

Prices are shockingly reasonable, from £10.50 per night in a shared dorm of up to 12 people.  For a random date in June, I was quoted £19.  Private rooms start at £52 – although for that money you should spend $70 on 10,000 IHG Rewards Club points and book the Holiday Inn Wembley instead!

Generator 3

Obviously I won’t be checking into a Generator hostel in the near future.  Neither will most of you.  If your kids are about to set out on some European travel, though, they do look like an interesting option.

Reminder: quick summary of the April 28th Avios changes
Did BA agree to pay £1m every year to build a door in T5? - and why they are paying for another one
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  1. Hingeless says:

    777,j class?

  2. A post about hostels on HFP. For a moment I had to go check if the run had risen this morning.

    • Worzel says:

      It appears that Generator Hostels do not have a property in Amsterdam as of yet.

      For anyone seeking hostel type accommodation in Amsterdam, have a look at:

      I’ve been there twice-and survived ! 🙂 .

      • Graeme says:

        I’m staying there in September! As long as it has a door and a shower….

        • Worzel says:

          Graeme, like me, you appear to be the discerning type.

          It’s worth visiting the website every now and then to check that the standards are as low as they always have been-the video clips are very helpful.

          🙂 .

    • Bit of a space filler but I was genuinely interested in the concept.

  3. Louise says:

    When our 3 children were primary school age we went to city hostel in London. We booked a full room for 6 and it had a shower room and loo so was self contained.

    It was a pretty cheap way of taking our family to the capital and we have fond memories. The breakfast deal was cheap and cheerful and with children it proved to be very laid back. They were more than happy with the wii, books and board games there and the family feel. It gave us a bit of extra money to explore what is, by northern standards, an extortionate city and go to shows and the like.

    Sometimes hostels can work for you and are perfect at the time.

    Times are different now they’re off our hands but if you have young children it can be more relaxing than hotels and offer something a bit more family friendly if you do your research.

  4. I’ve stayed in various hostels around the world.
    Sometimes I just don’t want to pay £200-£300 to be in a hotel by myself when for £20 a night, the location can be superior and you can meet people and find out places to go that you might not normally see.
    Ok, some are dumps, but there are nice ones out there and it’s no worse than a student dorm to me. Quite often, you rarely see your room mates and they range from quiet to party places.

  5. Werner says:

    I would have thought that most people under 25 would be better off in a private room at the Russell Square hostel than in the Wembley HI – the location is infinitely better.

    • Exactly! I can’t think of any reason staying at Wembley instead of Russell Square, unless you really need to visit that area.

      • Werner says:

        Indeed. If you’re at a Wembley event, fine, but otherwise I cannot understand this blog’s enthusiasm for the Wembley HI – yes, it’s ‘cheap’, but it’s out of the way. I’d rather pay 30,000 points for the Earl’s Court Indigo and have an infinitely better location (and hotel) for the extra points.

        • Because it’s cheap, and it is a very decent hotel.

          It is actually a better hotel than the Indigo Earls Court which I don’t like much (although it does have its fans). The shopping centre next to Wembley is also far smarter than the slum next to the Indigo!

          The point of the article is not necessarily to send people to Wembley but to highlight that they have a choice. You would be surprised how many people have used HI Wembley on my recommendation and been happy with it. A friend of mine even moved in for a couple of weeks when inbetween flats!

          To be fair, if I had written an article saying ‘HI Wembley is a great deal for cash at £100’ I’m sure you wouldn’t have commented to say ‘I don’t see why you mention the HI Wembley for £100 when you could stay at the Indigo in Earls Court for £300’. It’s the same delta.

        • Werner says:

          Take your point, but I guess it depends on what you want. The Indigo at Earl’s Court does more for me because of its location on the Piccadilly Line, I much prefer the Indigo brand to the HI one and, if you walk in the other direction, you don’t need to see the slum!!

          Given how easy it is to collect IHG points, though, I don’t quite think you can equate 10,000 vs 30,000 points to 100 vs 300 pounds.

        • Depends how easily you are collect £ as well! 🙂

        • I find Wembley HI to be very convenient. Heathrow is 25 min via Uber, 5-10 mins walk to Wembley Central or Wembley Park Tube. 1 min to Wembley Stadium Station (fast access to Marylebone) . Plus the newish Design Centre (mall) has many chain restaurants and Cineworld which is great if you have Tesco Clubcard points to burn. Plus a pool, sauna and steam room. Also internet was super fast via a BT Openzone hotspot. I have another 8 nights booked coming up next week on my way to Thailand and the whole trip is costing almost nothing. thanks HFP.

  6. I don’t earn a fortune, but i love to travel and I like to maintain my gold status when flying in Y is hard :p

    If flying alone, i often stay in hostels as they are not what they once used to be, i also got fed up with staying in 4* hotels and paying £5 a day for wifi… I don’t always stay in hostels, but you have to see some of them they are amazing…

    These look really good and look part of the flashpacking movement which is getting more and more popular…

    BTW I also took my father to stay in hostels when we could not find any accommodation (a hotel cancelled my booking while we were on the aircraft on the way to the hotel) – i simply paid for the entire room – was not bad at all..

    BTW always have airbnb etc these can be good, but the fees are high

  7. Andrew says:

    I’m a big fan of Germany’s Meininger and A&O Hostel chains. I run and own a small publishing company, so value is the order of the day for me! I’ve never paid more than €40 for a single room and even paid just €20 for one room at an A&O Hostel in one small Germany city I was visiting for a trade fair.

    I hasten to add I’ve never been brave enough to book a dorm place though!

  8. James67 says:

    Your flea-pits sound quite luxurious. My own recollections are of bus seats, ferry floors, Cologne railway station, under a tree in a Stockholm park, besides an open fire on a beach at Lake Peipus in Estonia and so on. And for all that, those trips remain more memorable than my first longhaul revenue flight in first class or my first stay at a Four Seasons.

    • I agree. But at 44 I do not, for eg, want to sleep on a mattress on a floor in a room above a strip club, which I did once in Paris!

    • … on the oily deck of a Greek ferry and Brussels train station having missed a connection. Bloody Brussels train station.

  9. I’ve stayed in the Generator hostels in Copenhagen and Berlin. I’m a lot older than their usual demographic and have always booked rooms with private facilities, solo in Copenhagen and with my sons at the two properties in Berlin. The accomodation, as expected, is basic but it’s all very clean and the shower facilities were fine. All had free wifi.
    In both Copenhagen and Berlin the hostel bars were lively and competitively priced and the locations were good. For the price I paid they were a very good deal, particularly the Copenhagen one.

    • Douglas, do you know if there is a good hostel with private facilities near CPH airport, as I was thinking about that before our HKT flights and on return. Seems like a good option for us lot on our cheapo ex EU flights. Some of the NYC ones are amazing ESP the old Vanderbilt building one. And a fab one in NY Chelsea area too.

      • JoeMcluskey says:

        Hi Polly,

        I would recommend Zleep Hotel Copenhagen Airport. It is absolute basic but you have your own room and it will take you 5 min with the train direct to the airport.

        You check in on a machine and its quite cheap, I think I paid around 480 dkr / 50 quid a night.

        But I would suggest staying in the city centre of CPH and its very easy to get to the airport. The metro goes to the airport and takes 15 mins.

      • Quick Copenhagen tip – use Uber! It’s pretty new there, and the quality of the cars is…inconsistent, but the drivers were always friendly.

        The taxis in Copenhagen are VERY expensive, and have predefined rates for airport runs which make them at least 4 or 5 times the price of an Uber doing the same journey.

        Things not covered: FOREX fees on your credit card if you’re not using Lloyds, trains also run airport to central, and the fact taxis are everywhere, Uber might be a short wait.

  10. Can’t help with other hostels I fear as this was my one and only visit to Copenhagen. If you don’t mind the trip to the centre the nearest metro station to the Generator hostel, about 5-10 minutes walk away, is on the line from the airport and takes about 15 minutes on the train.

    • Thanks all for CPH tips, may well go into the city if the metro is that easy.

  11. Blackberryaddict says:

    Very timely post. I now have kids that go interrailing (they got fed up having to come with mum and dad on CW redemptions 😉 ), so I’ll forward this post to them.

  12. sandgrounder says:

    Student halls of residence offer good value in the holidays. is worth a look for the budget traveller to london who wants a bit more privacy than a hostel bed, but would still like to meet other young people. I spent a good twelve months on the pool table at Rosebery a couple of decades ago!

  13. I’m 30 now and have always split my travelling life between nice hotels and fun hostels where you meet a lot of people.

    I would warn people though, that Generator hostels are mega party hostels so you have to expect them to be loud at night.

    • Too old for that sh/t now but when I was a bit younger going thru Aus, I saw a few hostels.

      OK the price is right but when the bed next door to you brings back a gel and [email protected] her noisily for a wee whiley plus all the unwelcome old pants, whews, grimaces, exhalations – it does sort of poison your stay.

      That’s Labour for you, by the way.

  14. Justin says:

    Have just come back from a hen party weekend in Hamburg, where the majority of people stayed at the Generator, and spent a lot of time there – although I stayed at the Radisson Blu. Was impressed with the cleanliness and the style of the hostel though. The staff still have a hostel feel to them and everything comes at an added cost, eg towels, padlock rental, lost keys. There were a lot of stag parties there as you could imagine, but also some ‘older’ clientele as well. Perfect if you are traveling in a group, but with a private room for single occupancy at 130€ p/n it was almost half price for me to stay in the Radisson instead.

  15. callum says:

    Generators tend to be souless and generic. I can see why that would be appealing to the hotel crowd but I don’t think they’re great for actual backpackers.

    They certainly aren’t worth highlighting anyway (though I appreciate you know nothing on this topic so had to rely on the press release!).