From IKEA “designer” hostels to concrete bunkers in Albania, European stopovers that are anything but conventional.
News surfaced earlier this summer that Inter Ikea, the company that owns IKEA’s intellectual property rights, was segueing into the “budget design” hotel market. This will not be the first IKEA lodge, or even the company’s first urbanized endeavor. In 2007, they opened an IKEA hostel in a Norwegian store; next year, the Swedes are assembling a self-contained neighborhood in East London.
The new hotel chain – expected to roll out 100 locations across the UK, the Netherlands and Poland – will not carry the blue and yellow logo, nor is it clear if Swedish meatballs with lingonberries will be on the menu. What is clear, however, is that the flatpacking giant is cashing in on what is the fastest growing segment in the European hotel industry: that of hip, budget design and “experiential” overnights for intrepid backpackers.
Book us on the Eurorail; here are a handful of wanderlust inducing locales, plus some bonus hindquarters right here in America.
La Villa Hampster in Nantes, France
At this Kafkaesque gîte, guests get to experience life from a rodent’s point of view replete with suspended cages, ladders, woodchip-strewn flooring and the option of plushy hampster pjs.
Concrete Bunkers, Albania
Entrepreneurs Gyler Mydyti and Elian Stefa looked at Albania’s 750,000 concrete bunkers and came up with a creative re-use project for the Communist-era ruins. Calling the idea a “future mode of Mediterranean tourism,” the project offers budget accommodation in picturesque locations.
Hostel Celica in Ljubljana, Slovenia
After the Yugoslav army left in 1991, this former prison was transformed into an Art House hostel that eventually became, as Lonely Planet put it, the world’s hippest hostel and Rough Guide’s ultimate 25 places to stay…in the whole wide world.
Clink78 in London, England
You’d be hard-pressed to find a bargain like this in London, especially in a heritage landmark like this 200-year-old courthouse ten minutes walking distance from King’s Cross station. The Clash were famously convicted here in the 70s.
Propeller Island City Lodge in Berlin, Germany
The brainchild of artist Lars Stroschen features a different theme in each room, including the flying bed room, the upside down room, padded room and the Nosferatu.
Dog Bark Inn in Cottonwood, Idaho
If hopping over the pond is not in your budget this season, save on the air miles and ‘ruff it closer to home. Bed and Breakfast accommodation inside the world’s biggest beagle. Bow. Wow.