Upscale hostel and hidden gem - this is Backstay Hostel in Ghent, Belgium! And you will love it. The building of the hostel is the former editorial office of the socialist newspaper Dagblad Vooruit, an important newspapers of the people back in the 30th. Today you will find the former printing letters decorating the bar, and every single room is named after a famous newspaper. Hostelgeeks visited Backstay Hostel.
What we cover:1. The 5 Stars of Backstay Hostel
2. How to book and compare rates
3. Neighborhood and location
4. 5 Secret tips to Ghent, Belgium
The particular neighborhood you’ll find Backstay Hostel in has a reputation for being the artsy area of town where major festivals happen. That’s just another one of the many reasons you may want to consider staying at this special accommodation when visiting.
The city of Ghent in Belgium ticks all the boxes for travelers looking to get a culture fix while mixing with locals. This university city has been rated one of the world’s coziest cities, and it is packed full of museums, theaters, and histories. We created a Guide with 5 Secret Tips to Ghent as well.
Whilst visiting this European gem, you may also be interested to have a look at CUBE Hostel in Leuven, another superb 5 Star Hostel, as well as Ani&Haakien Hostel in Rotterdam. Central Europe offers so many beautiful destinations along with fantastic Hostels.
You can find all the 5 Star Hostels in Europe and the world with Hostelgeeks.
Before we get started on more reasons this is an awesome place to stay, here’s a Geeky Fact: all the keys to Backstay are electronic bracelets you can wear on your wrist.
How cool is that?
Let us have a close look at the WHY. Why does Backstay Hostel Ghent fit the 5 Star criteria? Follow our footsteps with new photos.
Backstay Hostel in Ghent is a 5 Star Hostel because …
1. Sustainable from Top to Bottoms Up
It doesn’t get much more sustainable than that; almost everything is locally sourced, including its local staff. To get hot water and heat the building, they use a ground source heat pump. The toilets are flushed using collected rainwater, and all the energy they use is green – the hostel also runs on powerful solar panels!
Even the food is eco-friendly at the Backstay Hostel – they make your breakfast using local produce and ingredients. The morning starts with fair trade coffee while you can end the day with different locally brewed beers. Bottoms up, indeed.
2. Worldwide News – The newspaper design
The accommodation is regularly featured in big interior and design or architecture magazines (think Archdaily, Dwell, Domus, etc.), and it’s for a good reason. Each room is based on a big newspaper from around the world; you might be staying in a room dedicated to the Guardian (the U.K.), La Stampa (Italy), the New York Times (the U.S.), Die Zeit (Germany), or El País (Spain).
Each hostel room has its own special style.
The El Mundo (Spain) room, for instance, is covered in album covers, while the Le Monde from France one is filled with wooden puzzles of Ghent’s famous sights. There are also three private rooms, one of which houses a giant collection of matchboxes along the wall.
Related article: we created an overview of all different hostel room types.
No matter what room you get, each bed has an individual power supply and a small place to put your things right beside the bed. If you’re in a bunk bed, the design of the bed provides enough privacy.
It reminds of a the popular pod-styled dorms from Japan. The Share Hotel Hatchi in Kanazawa comes with those pod-styled dorms.
All the furniture is tailor-made just for the hostel.
The creators Yannick and Nele, two creative types from Ghent, designed the whole accommodation themselves. Have a wander round and spot the old suitcase disguising an electricity board, the VW Bus in the corridor, and the messages on the bathroom chalkboards. They’ve also added lit-up globes around the bar for another international touch.
3. A Colorful Past – Unique History
What’s a 5 Star Hostel today actually used to be the editorial offices of the socialist newspaper Dagblad Vooruit – how many hostels can you say that about? We’re guessing none. This went on until the 1980s, when it was converted into a cultural center called Backstage before becoming the hostel it is today.
Today Backstay Hostel brings people from all over the world together.
The 1930s building was designed by the architect Brunfaut, and features a chic frosted glass front that’s been preserved over the decades. Today, it bathes the hostel’s dorms in pretty soft light in the day, and when it gets lit up at night, it glows golden. This Art Deco building is considered a monument in its own right – and for good reason, as it’s very cool.
Therefore, make sure you have a look at the building by night from the outside.
4. Literary Designs – the vibes and atmosphere
Aspiring writers, we may have found your dream hostel. There is a special blog room, located in a lit-up tower and featuring high ceilings, atmosphere dark grey walls, and a huge window. It’s full of old (working!) typewriters and a modern PC, and the walls are covered in famous literary love quotes.
Type something up on the typewriter, and you’ll be allowed to leave it on the wall as well. Any traveler or local resident is welcome to stay and scribble in the tower.
You’ll be in good company, as famous Flemish poets have spent time here over the years (including Richard Minne and Louis Paul Boon).
They’ve also got a cinema room in the basement, and a laid-back Traveller’s Zone housed in a former pub that’s supplied with guitars and a piano. It’s all about mixing the historical building with what makes contemporary creatives tick. Having an own cinema sounds pretty tempting, right?
We collected +13 design ideas you can “steal” from hostels.
The in-house bar in the ground floor and its terrace are open both for the traveler and the locals. In fact, this is the motto “Where traveler meet locals“. Backstay Hostel is located in the vibrant student area and many students come to the Backstay Bar to study, hang out, have lunch. Especially at night, The Backstay Bar is a popular place to be. So make sure you head downstairs to have a drink.
As a guest, you get as well a 10% discount on all drinks and food – make the best out of it!
Also, you might want to keep an eye on the schedule. There are weekly free concerts (even Pete Doherty’s sister Amy Jo once stepped up to the mike here!). They organize cooking classes to learn how to make local Flemish specialties, dance classes twice a month, and a few drinking games every now and then. There are plenty of events happening.
5. “Every Traveller is a Friend” – the motto
That’s the motto here. The staff do everything they can to be welcoming to everyone, from guests at the hostel to local Ghent residents to the occasional accidental visitor.
The staff is always there for you, no matter what you need. They’ll even give you some excellent local tips on where to go in the city to find things like cool bars or great museums. Next to their pop-up reception you will find lots of different city maps. Go for the USE IT MAP, the coolest local maps in Europe. We like to say “USE IT are the detailed, printed maps of the geeky guides”
A journey is best measured in friends, not miles
Their approach is all about avoiding that cold, corporate feel, instead favoring real, genuine interactions – that’s why the saying “A journey is best measured in friends, not miles” is written on the wall of the breakfast room.
Video about Backstay Hostels
You cannot get enough? Check out the Videos of Backstay Hostel Ghent. They are constantly adding more videos of their concerts and events.
You can find +22 hostel videos of the 5 Star Hostels here.