Poshtels: A New Combination of Values

May 9, 2017


The race for new concepts in hospitality is nowhere near the finish. It’s a constant interplay between professional and accessible, private and social, comfort and economy. It’s not all about the mattress anymore. It’s about delivering the right experience to the people who want it.


All things considered, it’s a game of values. Because if there’s one thing the last ten years have taught us about the industry, it’s the importance of pulling apart values and putting them back together in interesting ways. The share model (or the sentiments behind it) has been the most obvious catalyst. Less than ten years after the launch of AirBnb, the hospitality landscape seems irrevocably different. Hotel managers and investors are trying, like never before, to pick apart their values and re-combine them to greater effect in order to re-attract customers..


Poshtels are recent evidence of the push for new hospitality models and concepts. The word itself is a play on hostels (rather than hotels), and it’s easy to arrive at the ‘definition’ by looking at common reasons for not staying in a hostel.


  • Messy bunkbeds occupied by strangers

  • Cramped communal spaces

  • Unprofessional housekeeping practices

  • Careless, untrained staff

  • Rowdy clientele


So if you woke up one morning with the realisation that hostels were an outdated model that needed fixing, poshtels would be the solution you’d come up with. Make it architecturally interesting. Give the design (both exterior and interior) a lot of thought. Make it stand out. Do away with cramped, awkward spaces. Create bright communal spaces that work well for socialising, relaxing, even putting in work hours. In dormitory rooms, give the beds and interiors a hotel-quality sheen. Add private rooms to attract guests who would never book a bunk. Serve up dishes with local ingredients. Display local artwork on the walls. Throw in a rooftop bar and a gift shop with branded merchandise. Definitely bring housekeeping up-to-speed.


Congratulations, you now have a poshtel. And you’re not alone. In fact, there’s already a good deal of competition out there, depending on where you are


Here in Melbourne, one property that could be called a poshtel (few properties actually embrace this word) is Base Backpackers in St. Kilda. On paper it almost looks like an ordinary hostel. You have dormitory beds from $25 AUD per night, and private rooms from $75. You have lounge and TV areas, a pool table, a stash of boardgames. But you also have a full-time housekeeping team. You have a bar. You have smart looking spaces, crisp and well-designed. You have yoga classes, city tours, pub crawls. In fact, you have a combination of values that many boutique hotels are already trying. You have values that AirBnb champions openly:


  • A more communal and local feel.

  • A blend of professionalism and accessibility.

  • A way to connect with new people and with the surrounding community.


Arguably, the only difference between poshtels and some of the more innovative boutiques is the option to sleep in a communal room. In that sense, the values behind poshtels are what we hoteliers want to focus on, in order to sharpen our understanding of the industry today.


When we consider the general movement toward experiences, social connections, and multi-functional spaces in hotel design, hostels already have a lot of strengths. They offer a sense of adventure, of not knowing what your day is going to look like from beginning to end — and of course, having extra money for other things.


But it all breaks down when professional standards aren’t kept. When people feel like they can’t get a good night’s sleep, or the walls are too thin (a perennial complaint against hostels), or the cleaning is inadequate. This is also the weakness of many AirBnb properties, and frankly, many hotels. Too much adventure and not enough professionalism. A combination of values that doesn’t hit the most important notes.


The word “poshtels” surged in 2015, appearing in articles all over the web. There’s a good chance it, like flashpacking and glamping, will go away with time; but as a combination of values, it’s worth studying and understanding. Your property might be a boutique, a hostel, a chain hotel, a condo, or anything in between. In all cases, searching for the right values is vital. It’s a race that’s arguably never going to end.



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