Europe is one of the most popular destinations for students studying abroad, folks doing their gap year and young travelers on a budget. Despite its popularity, Europe can be a wildly expensive destination for budget travelers. Staying in youth hostels is a great option for young people looking to meet other travelers and keep to a budget. While I was in Europe this summer on the #MyGayPride tour with Gay Star News and my favorite gay boy bloggers I was sponsored by Generator Hostels for the Barcelona and Paris leg of my adventures.
To be honest, I’m not the budget traveler type. Unfortunately, my ego thinks I’m Beyonce and my wallet thinks I’m an impoverished blogger. I’ll leave you to decide which one of these is more accurate. I’ve stayed in some really sketchy places to afford to travel, but it’s definitely not my preference. I’m rational enough to know that I can’t blow my budget on expensive accommodations when I have a lot of things to do and see on the road.
When my friend Adam suggested I work with Generator I was a little bit hesitant. When I arrived at Generator Barcelona, my expectations were blown out of the water. It was more of a boutique hotel than a hostel.
The vibe is somewhere between a trendy hipster bar and a Tumblr page come to life. They definitely have the millennial aesthetic down pat, without making me feel like I was the old lady hanging out at a frat party. Both Generator Paris and Generator Barcelona have a super relaxed vibe with tons of other 20 and 30 somethings.
That’s probably why they’re the fastest growing hostel brand in Europe. They know their audience. Young-ish travelers with high taste and low budgets. Folks who aren’t afraid of a good time, but don’t necessarily want to end up sleeping in a nightclub. Generator’s brand is youth friendly affordable luxury in a socially active setting.
The social experience at Generator is the winning feature. I’ve stayed in hostels all over the world and I’ve yet to experience the balance of work and play that Generator offers. It was active enough to feel social and grab festive drinks with strangers while being calm enough to get work done in the lounge each morning.
For someone who works while traveling, I have to have a solid WiFi connection and a place to get work done. The lounge in both hostels offered the perfect balance for me. I especially loved the second-floor lounge in the Paris Generator. I worked on content for the blog while I did my laundry one morning and enjoyed a cup of coffee. Paris also had a gorgeous rooftop terrace for enjoying drinks while watching the sunsets. What more could a blogger need?
Each day all of the Generator Hostels host a full program of events. It’s a wide range of activities; live music, bar hopping, cultural and sporting events. The programming is great for solo travelers or small groups looking to connect with other people and make international friendships. I met a woman from Taiwan while I was in Paris and ending up exploring Pigalle with her. Our night ended at the Crazy Horse Cabaret with a full bottle of champagne and some of the most polished burlesque I’ve ever seen.
Generator Barcelona’s restaurant and bar area is stunningly beautiful with hanging lanterns and intricately detailed tile floors. There is so much detail in the design that I spent a few hours nursing some cava and studying the ambiance. I had dinner in the restaurant one night and really enjoyed the variety of Tapas they have available.
Accommodations & Location:
In both cities, I slept in co-ed dorms. They had en-suite bathrooms with private room showers. Each bunk has a private locker underneath the bed for storing packs and personal items. I loved that my bunk had an outlet built into it so I could charge my phone while I laid in bed. They also have low-cost private rooms and small capacity dorms and female only dorms available. It’s the little touches that set Generator apart from other hostels.
Both Generator Paris and Generator Barcelona are in excellent locations close to public transportation and city highlights. Generator Paris is literally across the street from a train stop. Generator Barcelona is within walking distance to Sagrada Famillia. They’re a bit far from the airports but located in areas with tons of restaurants, activities, and transportation.
Prices vary by season and type of accommodation. In the height of summer, rooms are more expensive than in the off season. Similarly, a private room will be more expensive than a bunk. Prices for a bunk in a 12-bed dorm run between $25-$50 depending on the season. During the off season, private rooms are available for as low as $50. While Generator’s prices are slightly more expensive than other hostels in the area, the ambiance, services and social activities are unparalleled by other hostels.
I was traveling as a solo white femme queer woman. I didn’t experience any negative interactions at all while I was at Generator. Everyone was very gracious and friendly towards me. Keep in mind that the experiences of people with other identities may be different than my personal experience. Generator has gone out of their way to be accommodating to me while hosting my stay. They’ve also posted several guides for LGBT travelers including this Guide to Pride Across Europe. Use your judgment. If you are gender nonconforming, traveling as a couple or afraid for any reason you may want to consider booking a private room. You have a lot more control over your interactions with people when you aren’t staying in a dorm room. That being said, both of my experiences at Generator were well beyond my expectations.
This post was made possible by sponsored stays at Generator Barcelona and Generator Paris. As always, all opinions are my own.