Venice’s slick new Generator Hostel offers smart dorms, a cool vibe and killer views at decidedly un-Venetian prices
The last time I stayed in a hostel, a steaming drunk, muscle-bound Californian clambered in to my bunk, before a group of backpackers wrestled him out. The floors were wet and sticky, and coated in tangles of matted hair. The showers had no doors, just stained curtains on rusty hooks. Privacy was the inside of your sleeping bag.
So I wasn’t exactly looking forward to my stay at the brand new Generator hostel in Venice. I needn’t have worried. Like an artisanal burger or a craft ale, the hostel is a basic slickly reimagined for the 21st century – a hostel fit for a new generation of travellers who’ve grown up on, well, artisanal burgers and craft ales.
We approached by boat, in the dead of night. The hostel sits on the shore of Giudecca island, facing the city, and is connected to Saint Mark’s Square by a 24-hour vaporetto (waterbus) service.
The pretty red brick building, built in the 19th century as a grain warehouse, has recently been made over by the people behind hotel and members’ club Soho House. There are two private doubles and dorms for up to 10, with prices starting at a distinctly un-Venetian €15 a night.
As our boat pulled in we could see coloured lights twinkling in the windows. The ground-floor lounge and bar area is a vision of hipsterdom: all exposed brickwork, baroque sofas and bearded hunks tapping away at their MacBook Pros. Gorgeous people sipped Aperol spritzes at the bar; a DJ was spinning smooth grooves.
Venice is notorious for its unexciting nightlife – most locals don’t live in the historic centre of the city, and the bars tend to close early. So the opening of Generator is a welcome addition to the city’s nightlife scene.
We liked the look of our four-person dorm upstairs: proper duvets and pillowcases, a lovely big sink area, and – ooh! – a very sexy double shower with glass walls and door. If you were staying here as a group of four, you’d need to be pretty close friends or things could get awkward.
The next morning we awoke to the best surprise yet: the view from our dorm window of Venice unfolding before us, sparkling like sugar in the morning sun. It was all so pretty it didn’t seem real. Then suddenly the air was filled with the deep, long bellow of a ship’s horn, and Venice was blotted out by a 500-metre cruise liner, gliding across our field of vision like the spaceship in Independence Day.Nungwi Village
That night, the hostel was back in full swing with a mix of travellers and locals getting leathered at the glitzy bar. Having spent eight hours tramping around the city, we didn’t feel sparkling enough to join them, so headed to our dorm for an early night. Apparently we were the only ones: the building echoed with the sounds of hilarity and late-night high jinks. Out on the waterfront, people sat in groups chatting and smoking, watching Venice glittering in the distance.
As we lay awake, coming to terms with the realisation that Generator probably wasn’t the place for a night in, we wondered if it was our fault or theirs. Probably ours. Being too cool and fun isn’t a very serious charge to hold against a place.Nungwi Village
• Accommodation was provided by Generator Hostels