Last Friday, I was invited to attend the (re)launch party at Generator London, a hostel that's just a stone's throw away from Russell Square, off Tavistock Place. I know - it doesn't look like one, does it?
Designed originally as a police section house, the hostel was transformed in 2013 by Anwar Mekhayech from DesignAgency and ORBIT Architects and completely restyled to house a chic, modern space. Quite frankly, if you didn't know it was a hostel, you'd think it was a boutique hotel.
Even as I approach my early thirties, I have no shame in staying at hostels. Case in point: last summer, I spent the night before our wedding reception holed up at the Oxford YHA youth hostel because I was indignant about the hotel prices in Oxford City Centre (I put my parents up at The Old Parsonage, don't worry). We rented towels (ever-so-slight ick factor there, but I suppose it's no different than using towels at a hotel) and I had to shower in my flip-flops! I was jolted awake at 3:00 a.m. by the sweet, sweet sounds of a drunken domestic argument in the early hours of the morning near the kebab truck after late-night revelers spilled out of the nearby club - all a very far cry from the swish, slick, and very cool new re-design of Generator London.
When we arrived around 7:30, the party wasn't in full swing yet, but drinks were already flowing and the music was amazing. We hung out a the bar, used the obligatory free photo booth, and peeked into the different rooms, which apparently will be host to events, art collaborations, and shows throughout the hostel's opening.
It was clear that everyone there was excited to explore the newly redesigned space, and there are plenty of separate but unique spaces to just hang out in, which is perfect if you're traveling with a group of friends. Equally, there are some terrific little spots to just do your own thing in if you're traveling solo as well. The eating area (pictured above) is especially good, as the design lends itself to many cozy "pockets" so you don't feel like you're just sitting in a huge, impersonal cafeteria. Food that night was provided by F.A.T., who whipped up some spectacular fusion tacos and though I was exhausted from work, I just wanted to stay and enjoy myself!
And although I didn't get to see a room up-close-and-personal, they look pretty damn cool judging from the photos on the Generator website. Of course, in true hostel style, they offer dorm rooms with bunk beds (beds from £12 per person) and private rooms as well (from £24.50 per person). But the bright accents, wood floors, and clean, white beds make the days of bed-bug infested hostel stays and scratchy, of-dubious-provenance blankets (I refused to pull mine up under my chin at the YHA) seem another world away.
Though Airbnb is slowly taking over the world (more of my friends have opted for an Airbnb stay versus a hotel room when traveling recently, for example), it's clear that this redesign of Generator London signifies a new transformation for hostels - but will others follow its lead?
Forget staying as a budget backpacker or starving student - I'd be equally happy to hang out here on a Friday night if I was just passing by.
Photos all courtesy of Generator London. For more information on how to book a stay, visit their website here.