Planning Solo Travel

A Solo Traveller’s Best Friend: Pod Hostels

If you travel as much as I do on your own, and on a budget of any semblance, you’ve likely stayed at a hostel or two (or you know, ten ;)).

While I may have saw charm in the communal aspect of hostels in my 20s, entering my 30s, not so much.

Thankfully, pod hostels have risen to fame.

Most of the time, when I’m travelling, I look for boutique hotels or Airbnbs.

If I’m going the Airbnb route, I prefer private rooms in homes hosts own, or staying in a holiday home hosts aren’t using, versus Airbnb listings that are clearly instances of hosts buying up property just to rent it out to holiday-goers. Because you know, rising cost of living, housing crises, gentrification, and such.

Back to pod hostels.

Until I travelled full-time for a year, I’d never stayed in a pod hostel, but when planning last minute stays in cities that’d be considered expensive on the global stage- Amsterdam and Singapore, for instance, I had to get creative with lodging.

Originating in Japan, capsule hotels have come a long way since they were first created for businessmen. Back in the 70s, capsule hotels were popular with businessmen who missed their train home, or wanted to save money while travelling for work.

With how much they have to offer, it was only a matter of time until pod hostels (or capsule hotels) became popular with travellers as well. Cheaper than a traditional hotel and often more central, and available than Airbnbs, pod hostels blend privacy with shared space.

The room may just be a bed, and sometimes a small space for desk or storage, but there’s usually a door or blackout curtain, which means privacy. As an introvert, I love capsule hotels because they offer a place for me to escape, while travelling on a budget, but still make it easy for me to connect with others in common areas.

Just like hotels and Airbnbs, every pod hostel is different.

The two that I’ve stayed at, in Singapore and Amsterdam, both offered suite-style rooms, meaning, a bed, plus a bit of extra space.

In Singapore, I spent a few nights at the The Pod Capsule Hotel. Initially, I chose the pod hotel because it was right in the middle of one of my favorite neighborhoods- Kampong Glam.

For about €35-40 a night, I stayed in a suite room, which offered a bit more privacy (and security) through keycard access. In my space, I had a reading light, power socket, small workspace, duvet and pillows, as well as clean bathroom towels. Bathrooms and showers were shared, but cleaned often. And, the front common room offered a coffee machine, fridge, communal table, and individual call booths.

The only thing I didn’t love?

The rooms weren’t fully soundproof- there was a slot at the top to allow air conditioning flow to circulate, which also meant conversations travelled from suite to suite.

But, for the price and location, it was unbeatable.

Another pod hostel I’ve loved and would gladly return to?

CityHub in Amsterdam.

Futuristic in nature, this pod hotel is on the edge of the Jordaan – perfect location – with access to several tram lines. It’s right next to Foodhallen, one of the city’s trendiest eateries, and has plenty of coffee shops, grocery stores and restaurants in its vicinity.

Entering CityHub, you’ll find a plush common room with a serve yourself bar – everything, including room access – is connected by a digital wrist band.

Beyond the lobby, you’ll scan your wrist band to access to pods. Walking into a long hallway topped with a skylight, you’ll see rows of double-stacked L-shaped pods.

In each pod, you have a huge (king) sized bed, plus enough space to store bags and get dressed.

The beds are seriously comfortable, and are bigger than you may expect- I had no issues sitting up in bed and doing a bit of work on my laptop. The pod was seriously so comfortable, at times, I questioned leaving for the winter cold. Every pod features air conditioning, Bluetooth speakers, and lighting that changes color on demand.

Bathrooms are shared, and split by toilet room and showers. In the shower area, you’ll find fantastic amenities- towels, shampoo, conditioner, hair dryers, even bathrobes.

One of the best parts of staying at CityHub?

Every guest is given a personal hotspot. There’s high-speed WiFi throughout CityHub, but the hotspot really comes in handy when out, exploring Amsterdam- especially since free WiFi in cafes and restaurants isn’t as readily available as other worldwide cities.

Everything in CityHub is sleek. Preferences in your room are controlled by an app, which also gives you access to a digital concierge, who can help recommend things to do, or places to eat.

When I stayed in mid-December, I paid about ~€50-55 a night, which is a steal for being so central in Amsterdam.

Some may turn their noses up at pod hostels, and I get the hesitation- if you’re on vacation, do you really want to stay in cramped quarters with strangers?

But, if you’re like me, and see most trips as an adventure, you won’t mind the trade-offs of a small space and shared bathroom for prime location and affordability. To me, pod hostels combine the things I loved most about a traditional hostel- the other travellers- with a nicer place to sleep and more privacy.

Would you ever stay in a pod hostel while travelling? 

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