Hostel Lybeer has made a habit of surprising backpackers with a recently renovated 19th-century venue bursting with comfort. ‘The first thing we say to all our guests is ‘Welcome home,” explains manager Yaron Schollaert, and that truly goes for anyone. Not just a place for 20-something backpackers, Hostel Lybeer is used to accommodating travelers of any age, be it spry 75-year-old grandpas or recent newlyweds coming to celebrate in one of the most romantic European cities around. The happiness only increases when it becomes clear that Yaron and his multilingual staff have all sorts of goodies in store such as pub quizzes, a fully equipped kitchen for you to cook in, a free city map, and even free daily walking tours.
Hostel Lybeer, Korte Vuldersstraat 31, 8000 Bruges, Belgium, +32 50 33 43 55
St Christopher’s Inn at the Bauhaus
If you’ve come to Belgium to get your lips on a few of those alcoholic bad boys you’ve heard so much about, St Christopher’s Inn makes it easy for you. The travelers’ bar in their adjoined step cable houses stocks over 40 typical Belgian beers and hosts tastings and two happy hours every single day. Partygoers will be happy to know that check-in and check-out are possible 24/7, so no going home before you’re done enjoying Bruges‘ nightlife.
Meininger Brussels City Center
Blending in with the city that likes to call itself the world’s comic capital, Brussels’ Meininger Hotel has decked itself out in murals of paper heroes and cartoon drawings. The incredibly spacious, industrial-looking communal spaces are perfectly stylish with street art thrown in, and there’s good news for the environmentally conscious traveler as this place is completely CO2 neutral.
Giving a real feel for personal and authentic Brussels is The Captaincy. This guesthouse/hostel is especially great for the opportunity to stay in one of the capital’s historic 17th-century townhouses at an affordable price. The impressive home at the ‘lime dock’ in the tranquil Saint Catherine neighborhood used to house the captaincy of the Brussels Harbor before becoming the private property of a well-off merchant. With its full capacity at 16 guests and a wooden rooftop terrace, it’s almost a boutique hostel.
The Captaincy, Quai à la Chaux 8, 1000 Brussels, Belgium, +32 496 59 93 79
Rooms with private en-suite bathrooms are a rarity in the hostel scene, a fact that immediately lifts the Antwerp Student Hostel out above the bunch. Designed originally for students, researchers, and even professors, the ASH now attracts a great deal of international guests from all walks of life. A tranquil library is still preserved for people trying to study or work, while more carefree guests can enjoy the outdoor patio or game room. Expert tip: room 1701 offers a spectacular panoramic view of the city’s Cathedral.
The ASH, Italiëlei 237-239, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium, +32 3 500 88 17
Antwerp Backpackers Hostel
Quirky and with a distinct ‘backpackers should treat each other like family’ feel, Antwerp Backpackers Hostel would be the first to admit that they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. You won’t find too much luxury here, but the jovial atmosphere, communal BBQs, cozy patio, and colorful hammocks more than make up for the lack of glamour. Bridget and Greg, the owners of this old chocolate factory-turned-home away from home, are always at the ready with insider tips on where the cool art shows are and will serve you free coffee to boot.
An absolute highflyer in ‘world’s best hostel’ lists ever since opening in 2012, the family-owned Hostel Uppelink carries with it mightily impressive stories. At one point in the 15th century the residence of Philip II and his entourage and at a later point the storage unit to all of Ghent’s beer, ‘the tapeworm’ (at that time a noble nickname for the building as it was considered a mythical animal able of transforming into a dragon) is a house complex worthy of a charming city rich in culture and history. Even with this gorgeously preserved property, the owners go the extra mile by organizing free walking tours in English and Spanish, board game nights, and even the ability to rent a kayak for paddling Ghent’s quaint waterways.
Hostel Uppelink, Sint-Michielhelling 21, 9000 Ghent, Belgium, +32 9 279 44 77
Comfortably seated in the middle of Ghent’s university neighborhood, the colorful Backstay boasts a young and dynamic atmosphere. Though the hostel counts 108 rooms, these are divided up into themes of famous international newspapers, making the experience a little different for everyone. The communal room with a piano and guitar are a nice touch to the backpacker missing his or her beloved musical toys.
Backstay Hostel, Sint-Pietersstraat 128, 9000 Ghent, Belgium, +32 9 395 96 60
One of the most wonderful things about life in Ghent is the city’s collection of crisscrossing canals. Visitors enchanted by the waterways might want to give Ecohostel Andromeda a try as it’s located inside a converted barge a little ways out of the center. Eco-friendly with a biological breakfast included and a distinct nautical charm, it’s the most original way to spend a Ghent getaway.
Ecohostel Andromeda, Eargiekaai 38, 9000 Ghent, Belgium, +32 486 67 80 33
The lone representative of historic student town Leuven, Cube Hostel stands out because of its gorgeous retro interior. Somehow vintage, English gentlemanly chic, and oriental touches have all been expertly blended to create a worldly interior – enhanced by details such as the colorful suitcase collection making up the reception desk. The hostel is even a stop on a graffiti tour since the hallways have been decorated by local street artists.
Cube Hostel, Brusselsestraat 110, 3000 Leuven, Belgium, +32 16 89 45 85