What makes a great hostel? Daniel and Sam traveled the world to find out.
We are Daniel Beaumont and Sam Cooper, the founders of Podstel.
In 2012, we had a huge dream to start a hostel so decided to embark on an adventure around the world to discover what makes a great hostel. Our journey took us across 40 countries on 4 continents, including some memorable adventures hitchhiking 20,000km’s across North America, motorbiking Asia, and trekking altitudes of 5,400m in the Himalayas.
Along the way, we created Podstel – a vision to build a network of small hostels based on principles of community, learning, and exchange. We grew Podstel organically, working day and night, from cafes, tents, beaches, parks, bus stations and even the roadside while hitchhiking. We volunteered, worked at, and slept in hundreds of hostels, filled dozens of journals with feedback from 100s of backpackers, and inspired many others to travel by telling our story and building a tight-knitted community around Podstel.
After our trip was finished, we took base in Leipzig, Germany and worked to secure finance for the first Podstel. Originally, we intended on starting Podstel in Leipzig. We found a building, but after three months negotiating with the local council, the deal fell through because the building wasn’t deemed as suitable for a hostel.
We started looking further afield in places like Berlin, Porto, Barcelona, Budapest, Tallinn, Budapest, Bucharest, and after a lot of hard work and traveling we are pleased to announce that we have found an existing hostel that we will acquire, run and remarket into Podstel. We can’t reveal the location yet, but we anticipate that we will open by late October 2016.
How did you decide to open a hostel?
We were inspired to open our own hostel when Sam and I went on our first ever backpacking experience interrailing Europe. One of the first places we visited was Budapest, and we decided to stay at Carpe Noctem Vitae. Wow – what a hostel! We were blown away by the vibe and community spirit of the hostel, not to mention the kindness of the staff.
The staff working at Carpe Noctem cared about each guests’ experience and enjoyed getting to know travelers on a personal level. While we were there, we partied, bbq’d, played fun games, debated and even cooked together. From this experience, we knew we wanted to start our own hostel. To this day, after visiting 100s of hostels, it’s still our most memorable hostel experience.
What is the biggest challenge you are facing in running/managing your hostel?
We haven’t started running our hostel yet, but we’re ready for the challenge come late October 2016. However, our biggest challenge so far was finding a building for the first Podstel. We traveled for 4 years and searched 4 continents for the “perfect” place and eventually realized that the perfect place doesn’t exist.
In 2016 we changed our strategy, and instead of looking for a location to start Podstel, we looked for opportunities to take over existing hostels.
One important note about location: it’s important to remember that you will always need to make compromises/sacrifices when choosing a location for your hostel.
What makes your hostel unique?
In two words, community and learning. With the growth of technology and emergence of Generation-Y, the modern day traveler is looking for a different experience. A traveler wants to learn new things. A traveler wants to create memorable experiences that they can tell their friends about. They want to feel a sense of belonging and special connection to where they stay. They want to create meaningful connections and stories with people they meet in the hostel and leave with new friends.
Podstel will be a place that facilitates this shift in trend. We want to be a small community hostel that differentiates itself by offering a unique experience that travelers can’t find anywhere else.
Without getting into details, we’re thinking along the line of events, workshops, learning opportunities, inspiring presentions, as well as giving guests a chance to make a difference in the local community.
We want to give guests a stage and place to express their skills. Travelers already have the skills and talents – they just need a platform/place and audience to share those talents and what better place than the hostel?
What is the one thing that your guests like the most in your hostel?
Definitely, the community spirit and vibe of Podstel. In our opinion, a great hostel comes down to its people and community. We want our guests to feel welcome like they are returning home. We want to let them be themselves and express their skills, passions with like-minded people.
What makes your destination/city a place everyone should visit?
At this moment in time we can’t reveal where our hostel will be located until we have finalized everything, but let me assure you, we’ve chosen a great city in a country which has lots of natural beauty of wonderful places to explore.
We’d love you all to come and visit the first Podstel as soon as we open our doors.
On a final note, if there’s anyone out there thinking about opening their first hostel – DO IT! You won’t regret it!