Forget no-frills lodging; today’s new brand of hostels offers cool decor and plenty of perks. Sounds too good to be true? Well, we’ve got the scoop on hostels that pack a wow factor with upscale amenities, contemporary comforts, prime locations, and good food. Plus, with fun social scenes and affordable rates, they have all the ingredients for a pleasant stay without breaking the bank. Join us as we step into the (little-known) world of modern hostels.

Hostelling International – New York

hostelling_intl_nyWithin walking distance of Central Park and numerous subway lines, Hostelling International in New York City offers an affordable stay on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. This well-run property has both private and shared rooms, free Wi-Fi, a theater room, game room, café, several lounges and a private patio/garden. To keep guests (mostly in their 20s and 30s) entertained, the hostel organizes daily events like city tours, pub crawls, and in-house comedy shows.

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Plenty of people visit UNESCO World Heritage sites on vacation. Not too many get the experience of actually sleeping in one. But that’s exactly what Parador de Granada in Spain offers its guests: This former Moorish Palace is actually within the walls of La Alhambra, the famed medieval palace and fortress that has influenced countless works of art and literature. (Among them: Washington Irving’s Tales of Alhambra.) This upscale boutique hotel also once operated as a Franciscan convent, and today, it has elegant, contemporary rooms and a traditional restaurant that’s known for having hosted First Lady Michelle Obama. The serene gardens offer stunning views of Generalife, La Alhambra’s beautiful 13th-century royal palace. See more amazing pics after the jump >>

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So Spain’s Costa del Sol is pretty renowned (and justly so), but it doesn’t get quite as much international love as the French Riviera or Amalfi Coast. We’re not quite sure why, because it’s pretty friggin’ gorgeous, and hotels here are a fraction of the price of those in more famous Mediterranean beach destinations. If whitewashed buildings in charming Andalusian seaside towns sounds like your kind of thing, you’ll probably dig these seven hotels. It doesn’t hurt that the views are postcard-perfect….

Hotel Balcon de Europa

Hotel Balcon de EuropaThe Hotel Balcon de Europa is one of many four-pearl luxury hotel choices on the Málaga coast, but what sets this 108-room property apart is its prime location on the beach in the center of tourist-friendly Nerja. There’s definitely an adult vibe here thanks to the rooftop swimming pool, spa facilities, and a romantic restaurant with views of the beach through floor-to-ceiling windows. Read More »


Hard RockJust in time for the Spanish party town’s hottest season, Hard Rock International opened Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza yesterday after years of construction. The luxury hotel is the company’s first property in Europe, and brings the brand’s musically-inclined amenities to Spain, with signature Hard Rock features such as in-room guitar deliveries and curated playlists. On June 13, the 493-room hotel’s official opening party will also pay homage to the brand’s — and the beach destination’s — love of music with hot DJs and bands, and a late-night end time. Revelers are sure to continue the party on the sand, conveniently right outside Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza’s doors. We can’t wait to get over to the Spanish island, but in the meantime we’re enjoying “revisiting” the Hard Rock properties we have rested our heads in — from Las Vegas to Punta Cana to Orlando to Singapore to Chicago to Cancun to San Diego to Riviera Nayarit to Albuquerque. [Hard Rock Hotel]