11 Hostel-Style Lodges for the New International Nomad

Generator Hostel Berlin. Nikolas Koenig photo.

How to jigsaw a twin bed (or a few), plus desks, shelves, and closets into a tiny room? So often the dorm puzzle is solved in the most cost-conscious and Soviet drab of ways. But privately built student housing alternatives have been cropping up in Denmark, Berlin, and other European cities that are so inventive, we’ve found ourselves looking to dormitories for small-space living ideas.

A companion movement, the boutique hostel, is equally compelling—and has a considering bunk rooms for our next vacations. Here are 11 designer dorms and dorm-style lodgings currently on our radar, starting with a 1920s classic that has become a pilgrimage stop for the devout modernist.

Bauhaus Dessau in Germany

Bauhaus Dessau Josef Albers dorm room. Restored rooms in the 1920s dorm are now available for overnight stays.
Above:  Student and professor studios at the Bauhaus Dessau were furnished with designs by members of the faculty: the intention was to introduce hardworking, industrial-edged furnishings to humble student quarters. The campus is now a museum and a hotel of sorts: 28 restored dorm rooms are now available for overnight stays.

Shown here, the Josef Albers room with two of his iconic furniture designs (a reproduction of the Bauhaus Nesting Table, in a set of four, is currently available from France & Son for $449, marked down from $760). Rooms starts at €40 ($47.64); for booking information, go to Bauhaus Dessau.

G27 Global Institute in Berlin

G27 CIEE Global Institute dorm room in Berlin by Macro Sea.
Above: New York–based property developer Macro Sea used easy-to-rearrange wheeled wardrobes and other wooden cubes in its G.27 Global Institute Berlin, a combination campus and dormitory.

The firm worked in partnership with CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange), a nonprofit that runs several study-abroad programs. This one occupies a century-old former factory in Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood.

G27 CIEE Global Institute dorm bathroom in Berlin by Macro Sea.
Above: “We reject the standard operating procedure for a student dormitory,” say the team at Macro Sea. In this dorm room corner, they inserted clever wall-hung bathroom storage and a metal and wood ladder that leads to a loft bed.

Generator Hostel in Berlin

Generator Hostel Berlin. Nikolas Koenig photo.
Above: Formerly two 19th-century office buildings, Generator in Mitte, Berlin, is “an arts focused uber hostel.” The company has 14 outposts in Europe, ranging from Amsterdam to Venice, plus one in Miami, all designed by Toronto-based Design Agency.

Base Camp in Potsdam, Germany

State-of-the-art student housing: BaseCamp-designer-dorm-room-Potsdam-Germany, designed by Studio Aisslinger.
Above: BaseCamp, another of the many companies offering fully furnished dorms in repurposed buildings, takes great care to get the design details right. That’s thanks to the team at Studio Aisslinger of Berlin, who came up with a series of custom adaptable desk-and-bed combinations that they’ve introduced in BaseCamp’s three locations: Potsdam, Germany; Lodz, Poland; and Copenhagen, Denmark (several more are in progress).

Shown here, a 23-square-meter (247.57-square-foot) single at the BaseCamp Potsdam, with a platform storage bed of waxed birch sectioned off by netting to allow natural light to fill the room. Drawer pulls are made of a heavy fabric that picks up the color of the sconce and hanging light, both adaptations from Studio Aisslinger’s Hobo Lamp Family by Wästberg. Note the metal hanging rack incorporated into the wooden bookshelf. The felt desk chair is Studio Aisslinger’s Chairman Wood; €425 ($504.41) from Conmoto.

Base Camp in Lodz, Poland

State-of-the-art student housing: BaseCamp designer dorm in Lodz, Poland, designed by Studio Aisllinger. The group has dorms in three other European cities.
Above: At other BaseCamp locations, Studio Aisslinger applied the same design vocabulary without repeating themselves. BaseCamp Lodz features colored laminate drawers (with fabric pulls), pegboard storage, and a bed divider and desk frame of green powder-coated steel with rounded edges.

Base Camp in Copenhagen

State-of-the-art student housing: BaseCamp designer dorm in Copenhagen by Studio Aisslinger.
Above: BaseCamp Copenhagen occupies a grand 1771 former barracks across from the Rosenborg Castle gardens with 216 irregularly shaped rooms.

“Our main concern was to create a flexible but still production-friendly family of furniture that would allow the items to easily interact with each other, depending on the shape and size of the room,” explains Studio Aisslinger interior designer Alessandra Cetto. “The connecting piece is the desk board, which can be slid on both sides into the other elements (wardrobe, kitchen cabinet, or bed structure). This simple trick allows a lot of combinations.”

In case you’re wondering about moving into one of these rooms: BaseCamp reports that it only accepts applications from students for full semester stays and is currently juggling a lot of wait lists.

Urban Rigger in Copenhagen

Urban Rigger floating shipping container student houses, Copenhagen, Bjarke Ingels architect.
Above: Urban Rigger is the first in what its founder, Kim Loudrup, plans to be a fleet of floating student houses made from recycled shipping containers. Architect Bjarke Ingels designed this one, which comes with plywood-paneled bedrooms and prime views.

Hello I’m Local, in Haarlem, the Netherlands

Dorm room at Hello I'm Local, a stylish hostel-hotel in Haarlem, Holland.
Above: Hello I’m Local is a hostel in Haarlem, the Netherlands, with a dozen rooms ranging from doubles to dorms, all done up in new and vintage Dutch designs. The Tante Leen Room is equipped with four bunkbeds. See more in A Quirky Hotel in the Netherlands with Dozens of Ideas to Steal.

Independente Hostel & Suites in Lisbon

The Independente hostel-hotel, Lisbon.
Above: Custom particle board bunk beds designed by architect Catarina Cabral contrast with the parquet flooring and soaring ceilings at Lisbon’s Independente Hostel & Suites set in what had been the Swiss ambassador’s residence. There are 11 dorms—and room for 90—plus a second location with suites and terraces next door.

Superbude II Saint Pauli in Hamburg, Germany

Superbude St Pauli, a stylish hostel-hotel in Hamburg, Germany.
Above: The playful Superbude II St Pauli, and its companion hostel, Superbude St. Georg, both in Hamburg, Germany, are the work of German architecture firm Dreimeta. The designers’ choice of Rolf Heide’s wooden stackable beds—see our post, Guest Beds for Small Spaces—enables rooms to accommodate small groups and large.

Dreimeta designed the companion yellow wardrobes and put local newspapers to use as wallpaper.

Bed & Bike in Barcelona

Bunk room at Bed and Bike, a stylish hostel in Barcelona.
Above: Bed & Bike Barcelona in Eixample is set up for visitors who want to pedal around the city. The hostel offers bikes for free—except in the summer months, when they’re €7 ($8.30) per day—and rooms range from four to 16 beds.

In the market for your own bunk beds? Browse our Bunk Beds archive.

For more vacation ideas, explore our Design Travel finds.

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