Nowadays, hostels are the trend for many backpackers and travellers therefore attracting all kinds of people. They are now evermore accommodating for all; solo travellers, couples or even families. People are tending to forget about luxury resorts and are keen to socially mingle with other people on the road. Hostels tend to be the foundation for us to step out of our comfort zone, socialise with others from destinations afar. In a popular hostel you can expect to have free WIFI and tours to home comforts such as TV and computers, and maybe the best top end hostels you’ll find the added bonuses of swimming pools, bars and restaurants too.
Despite the success of Airbnb and contrary the challenging times of hotel cooperations, hostels are still consistently popping up everywhere. In particular, hostel chains are now a growing thing, and with travel on the up every year, the chains are no doubt going to get bigger, and the competition more fierce.
Let’s take a look at some of the best hostels that are businesses and how they are so successful.
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Asia / Australia
Mad Monkey Hostel Group
Southeast Asia(7) Cambodia (5), Philippines (1), Thailand (1)
Mad Monkey has come on leaps and bounds since its infancy back in 2010. Mad Monkey is actually The Monkey Hospitality Group Cambodia Ltd, being a hotel management and travel consultancy company, focusing on improving the youth hostel and tourism sectors. Predominately in Cambodia, with Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Kampot and Koh Rong Saloem all covered, the Mad Monkey hostels are a prime example of a hostel chain that does more.
Mad Monkey covers all the tours from local, traditional encounters to top of the range activities. With a top-end marketing team, their social media presence is very strong. They’ll often create epic videos showcasing the hostels from travellers to the staff. Furthermore, Mad Monkey regularly provides help to local communities in Cambodia, such as running water for villages that have non, finding schools of poor children, tuk-tuks for NGO’s and funding for other local community based projects. Mad Monkey works actively to create destination demand in each of the areas they operate, benefitting many of the smaller businesses around them by increasing marketing demand. Having a Mad Monkey presence in the city has become synonymous with a progressively developing tourism sector.
With nearly 900 top of the range beds through 7 current locations, that have a bar and restaurant included, a recently opened hostel in Boracay, Philippines and a new hostel opening in Bangkok in a matter of months, Mad Monkey is arguably Southeast Asia’s #1 hostel chain. With a mission quote ‘ Our mission is to develop Mad Monkey into the largest social hostel family in Southeast Asia, with 3000 beds per night in 5 countries by 2022. We must remain true to our purpose and values and deliver on our customer promises every step of the way.’
Vietnam Backpackers’ Hostels
Southeast Asia (4) Vietnam(4)
Vietnam Backpackers have recently just opened their fourth hostel, in the romantic and popular City of Hoi An. With plans to further expand from their two hostel base in Hanoi, Vietnam Backpackers are one to watch, with a hostel in Hue too. So much more than just a hostel, these guys provide some of the best tours both on and off the beaten track. Halong Bay(which they own their own excursions, Castaway), Sapa and their own tour called ‘ The Buffalo Run’, a 7-day excursion from Hanoi to Hoi An are extremely popular. Even if you weren’t staying with these guys, you wouldn’t find many better for what tours they offer. The chain began in 2004 by two Australians and has slowly come to become one of Asia’s largest chains.
Vietnam currently it has a 5% return rate for tourists, which is a whopping 40% decrease difference from its neighbour Thailand. When tourism does increase in mass, Vietnam Backpackers’ will be one at the forefront where tourists turn to. As far as a hostel business is concerned, there isn’t any bigger in Vietnam right now.
Australasia (34) – Australia (18), New Zealand(10), Fiji(6) (Including managed hostels)
Huge in Australasia, Nomads was first opened back in 1994. 23 years on, Nomads has branched out throughout Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Nomads is a hostel managing company too, so openly promotes other brands on their website. This associates them with many hostels across the world. Nomads is arguably Australia’s largest hostel chain. Nomads manage 40 hostels in 20 countries, so if anyone is looking for world domination, the Nomads brand certainly is. With 3,000 beds and an annual selling total of over 600,000, Nomad is a major player in the hostel business world.
Since 2015, Nomads acquired Base and rather than colliding they now work together to promote each other’s locations, beds, tours and packages. The website includes links to Job Search, to help find travellers on working holiday visa’s acquire work. With these two powerhouses now together in this part of the world, it’s very difficult to see is bigger and who could overtake them. Over 27 locations in total between the two in Australia, Fiji, New Zealand says it all.
Europe (12) Germany (3), Italy(2), England(1), Sweden(1), Holland(1), France(1), Denmark(1), Ireland(1), Spain(1)
One of Europe’s largest hostel chain, Generator Hostel is one of the most business like hostel chains in the world. Impeccably ran, Generator offers a luxury experience to travellers that combines social events and at affordable rates. If you search Generator in LinkedIn, you’ll see their head staffs aren’t just hostel managers and owners; they are CEO’s and Chief Officers. Not only that, investors came into play in 2007, with Patron Capital spotting the potential in investing in Generator. Generator launched in 1997 and it’s the perfect example of a hostel chain that offers more.
In 2014, Generator created Sound of Paris to bring some of the most talented local musicians to play. They also get involved in the media side too; teaming up with Lab Magazine to create clever videos showing the cities they are based in, such as Barcelona. Several events followed across three cities with Generator, teaming up with BEAT Magazine. The hostels, like in Paris, are like as luxury as some hotels. Generator is the pinnacle of hostel businesses. Generator actively look events to create, make and organise across its several locations, epitomising being a hostel chain that does more.
St Christopher’s Inn
Europe (20) – UK (13), Spain (1), Germany (1), Czech Republic (1), Belgium (1), France (1), Holland (1), Denmark (1)
St Christopher’s Inn is a well-established and known hostel across Europe. With hostels in 8 different countries, St Christopher’s is one of the largest chains in Europe. Beds and Bars, a UK-based company operating and owning several hostels and bars across Europe, owns the chain. St Christopher Inn launched in the mid 90’s with 121 beds and pretty much since then, year by year, has went from strength to strength. Originally opening first in London, UK, further hostels were opened in the capital, with the added introduction of a female only hostel too.
St Christopher’s is impressive as you can imagine with such a successful like Beds and Bars pulling the strings and steering the ship. You can check into your room online now, a bit like a airport system, which is unique to how other hostel chains operate. Next to each hostel is a Belushi bars, with great food at decent prices. If you’re travelling Europe, this place will be one that everyone recommends. They are safe and secure hostels, with real comfort and modern travelling facilities. Not only that, St Christopher’s even has an own app for your smart phone. You’ll see special offers and be able to book your nights stay here. In conclusion and most noteworthy of all, you feel St Christopher’s will be a step ahead of many of its competitors due to its continued success.
Europe + Africa (5) London (1), Lisbon (1), Prague(1), Barcelona(1) Marrakech(1)
Equity Point is a chain over 5 countries and 1,500 beds. Modern, youthful and funky, Equity Point are in London, Marrakech, Lisbon, Prague and Barcelona. Equity Point are oriented for independent travellers and focus on location as one of their strong points. In addition, group bookings are regular, ranging from sports, religious or school events. The hostel chain opened only in 2011, making it one of the most new of hostel chains on the list.
The experience within Equity Point lauds over 25 years in the business, and we can see why given their rapid climb in the hostel chain industry. Furthermore, internships are available here for anyone looking to get experience in the hospitality industry, which is an indication of Equity Point’s professional and business approach.
Europe (21) – Germany (14), Austria (3), Italy (1), Holland (1), Denmark (1) Czech Republic (1)
Considered to be the biggest hostel chain in Europe with 21 locations, A&O go a little under the radar as far as hostels are concerned. A&O have a steady reputation but probably don’t get involved as much as its competitors in terms of media and marketing. A&O tend to focus on doing what they do best, getting beds filled across its locations, regularly. All demographics and travellers are welcome, with families being regular guests to the hostels and children sleep for free. Furthermore, large groups and class trips are also popular with these hostels. As a result many people recommend A&O because of this. Predominately A&O are situated across Germany, but with hostels in Holland, Italy and Denmark, they have over 22,000 beds and annually can sleep over 3 million people. This alone makes these guys, Europe and if not the world’s largest hostel in terms of beds.
Since 2000 they’ve been running this ship, with a motto of ‘Every year at least two more houses’! A&O won’t be the flashiest of hostel chains, nor are they tailored for backpacker partying ones, but are a prime example of a hostel business run right.
South America – Brazil (20), Peru (3), Argentina (2), Uruguay (2) Chile (2)
It would be very difficult to go wrong when staying at Che Lagarto. Consequently they are leading chain of hostels throughout Latin America with destinations in 5 different countries. Che Lagarto mostly operates in Brazil, with over 25 locations across the country. Comfortable, clean and reliable, Che Lagarto is everything you want in a professional hostel business. Born in 1998, it is South America’s first private hostel chain.
The hostel chain is a reliable place to stay regularly because of how professional they are. Beds are comfy, facilities are top of the range and reputation is intact. Especially in countries like Brazil, where honestly pockets of the country aren’t 100% safe, Che Lagarto is one place you can rely on. Their website doesn’t go into huge detail about each place unlike some hostel chains, but rest assured, Che Lagarto are a successful brand that competitors in the region can’t get close to.
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