Travelling on a budget, especially for younger individuals, has traditionally translated to holing up in dingy hostels with pretty nasty bathrooms. Thankfully, boutique hostels -- which lie somewhere between a regular hostel and a B&B on the comfort scale -- are gaining traction in difficult economic times as budget-conscious but comfort-seeking travellers now expect to save money, while still enjoying the feeling and services of a boutique hotel.
Previously featured for their "re-skinning" proposal for Zerofootprint and this "insane home of the future," German architecture firm LAVA (Laboratory for Visionary Architecture) obviously had this paradox in mind in their recent eco-remodelling of the Berchtesgaden Youth Hostel, located two hours outside of Munich. Using local materials and craftsmanship, the hostel's existing structure was redone with a low-energy facade, floor heating and the installation of a biomass pellet heating system.
The emphasis was on creating distinctive spaces through reorganization. Different types of bedrooms with built-in furniture and integrated storage were established along with multipurpose spaces, to create zones that stimulate activity, group interaction and to foster a feeling of community.
Integrated window-boxes cantilever from the facade, allowing for flexible use of space -- whether it's for seating, eating or chatting -- offering a visual panorama to the outside.
The old wooden ceiling of the first-floor restaurant can now be seen from the new rooms, while an unused attic was transformed into an open mezzanine equipped with extra beds.
Surprisingly, the redesign also targets families, a demographic that usually feels out of place amidst the boisterous atmosphere typically found in hostels. But there's an emerging trend toward boutique hostels which feature the services of a luxury hotel, but allow for flexibility of spaces, diverse clientele and creative design in a unique location.
Here in Berchtesgaden, by reducing energy use and the careful selection of regional materials in contrast with bright colours and natural lighting, the hostel typology is re-imagined as something more authentic, existing in harmony with its surroundings.