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A Hostel That Wants Every Traveler to Be a Friend

The word hostel might not conjure up the most pleasant of images, but luckily places like the Backstay Hostel in Ghent are looking to change that with the help of designers Nele Van Damme & Yannick Baeyens. For this month’s Destination Design, we head to Europe to check out this Belgium-based hostel with a storied past.

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The hostel opened in 2014 after taking over an old newspaper building that dates back to 1930. The building, full of design history, is now protected as an Art Deco monument.

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The frosted glass electric front was designed by architect Brunfaut, and its Art Deco style carries over into the lobby. The vibrant yellow welcomes guests off the streets with its swirling mosaic floor.

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The location is spot-on being right in the middle of the university, just near the art center and minutes away from the historic city center. It’s one of the largest hostels in the Ghent region, with over 15 rooms and 108 beds.

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The ground floor bar is clad in hundreds of old typesetting letters, perfectly suited for it’s newspaper past. Colorful globes hang above to playfully welcome guests from around the world.

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While they aim to respect the building’s historic past, they also wanted to be seen as a trendy spot in the vibrant city.

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If you’re not into sharing a room, they have private rooms, as well.

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Each of the floors is assigned a different color, which is highlighted with trickles of soft light filtering into each of the sleeping quarters through the opaque windows of the facade.

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Stacks of bunk beds outfit the various group rooms, with fun features like colorful record album covers and LEGO banners covering the walls.

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Even the bathrooms coordinate with the floor’s assigned color.

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Located within the illuminated tower, is a blogging room if a guest gets the urge to write.

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What: Backstay Hostel Ghent
Where: Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 128, 9000 Gent, Belgium
How much? From approximately € 25.00 per night
Highlights: A historic building with a storied past gets a modern, hip renovation for international travelers right in the heart of the city.
Design draw: Colorful floors, historical details, and fun trendy elements.
Book it: Call +0032 9 395 96 60 or [email protected]

Photos by Luc Roymans Photography.

Caroline Williamson is Editorial Director of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.