Hostel or boutique hotel? Youth hostels are adding private rooms, services

Generator, Freehand are among hostels shifting focus nationwide

Generator hostel in Miami Beach at 3120 Collins Avenue
Generator hostel in Miami Beach at 3120 Collins Avenue

Hostels are upping their efforts to win over youth, adding private rooms and more services to gain greater appeal as they expand nationwide.

After finding that the term ‘hostel’ is a turnoff to majority of American guests, the London-based hospitality group Generator shifted its focus onto its bars and restaurants at its first U.S. location in Miami Beach, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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The recently opened eight-story hostel building at 3120 Collins Avenue also began offering private rooms. At its opening party it featured artists like DJ Khaled and Wyclef. Generator Group’s CEO Alastair Thomann told the publication he wants to do away with the term youth hostel, saying the company’s new approach places the brand between “hostel and cool boutique hotel.”

Amid changing demands, New York-based brand Freehand has also decreased its number of shared accommodations at its Miami Beach location. The brand, run by Sydell Group in partnership with private-equity investor Ronald Burkle, has youth hostels in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.

The growing hostel industry is also crossing over to the hospitality sector, as more established hotel brands shrink their room sizes to mirror the hostel culture and experience. Hilton is the latest example. Its recently launched brand Motto by Hilton, was referred to as a “hostel on steroids,” by Hilton’s CEO Christopher Nassetta. [WSJ] – Amanda Rabines