Hotels too expensive? Here are five charming hostels for a cheap European break

Anyone who has taken a year off or backpacked across continents has probably stayed in a hostel at some point along the way.

Pile and cheerful, these simple properties accommodate millions of travelers on a budget, making it possible to explore exotic destinations without paying a huge bill.

No longer aimed only at students, hostels have upped their game over the years. Amenities have improved, rooms benefit from more privacy, and the interior design can match some of the trendiest hotels.

And as the cost of living crisis continues to dwindle, hostels present a more affordable option for a vacation. Try some of these European options for a stress-free short break this year…

A&O Hostel Rotterdam, Netherlands

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A&O Rotterdam Hostel. PA Photo / A&O.

On a mission to reduce its ecological footprint, A&O aims to be the first CO2 net zero European hostel chain by 2025. Even better for eco-conscious travelers, this branch’s location – a 10-minute walk from Rotterdam Central Train Station – makes it ideal for Eurostar connections from London St. Pancras. The 19th-century brick building offers free Wi-Fi, satellite TV and a tea-coffee maker, desk, and seating area. Take advantage of the free breakfast buffet. Dogs are welcome, and bike rental is also available.

description: From €49 per night (twin room, two sharing). aohostels.com

Swiss Youth Hostel Cranes-Montana, Switzerland

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Crans Montana Hostel in Switzerland. PA Photo / Thomas Andenmaten.

For more than a century, the upmarket resort area has been a center of Cranes-Montana health and wellness. Once used as a sanatorium, this beautifully converted hostel promises to benefit both body and soul, with views of the Rhne valley, Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Summer activities include mountain biking, road cycling, hiking and water sports on the lakes at 1500 meters above sea level. Visit Alaïa Chalet, an indoor and outdoor skate and trampoline park, or Alaïa Bay, a new artificial surf park.

description: From £48 per person per night in a six-bed room including breakfast. Youthhostel.ch/en/hostels/crans-montana

Next House, Copenhagen, Denmark

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The Next House Copenhagen. PA Photo / Claus Isling.

A cinema and yoga studio set this ‘next level’ hostel above other affordable properties in a city renowned for quality and design. The 433 rooms have 1,666 beds, and include dorms for women only. The communal areas are divided between a lounge, two terraces, a football court and a restaurant that serves stone-baked pizza.

description: Rooms in a six-bed hostel from €16.50 per person. nexthousecopenhagen.com

Sleepin Fangslet, Horsens, Denmark

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Fngslet in Denmark. PA Photo/Fangslet.

Spending the night in a cell may not sound like fun, but this historic hostel in Horsens – a 45-minute drive from Aarhus – has kitsch appeal. Once one of the largest prisons in Europe, Fngslet was commissioned in 1853 and closed in 2006. Years later, the bars have been removed, allowing curious travelers to experience what it’s like to spend a night ‘inside’. Learn about the stories of prisoners – such as the story of Carl August Lorentzen, who escaped prison in 1949 after spending 11 months digging an 18-meter tunnel.

description: Doubles from £56.50. fangslet.dk

WOT Peniche, Portugal

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WOT Peniche. PA Photo / WOT.

Choose between dorms, suites, studios and apartments in this charming, design-led hostel in Europe’s bohemian surf capital. A few minutes’ walk from Peniche’s best seafood restaurants, the colorful property is run by a team of cool locals who know the destination inside out. Learn to surf with one of the schools along Balel Beach, or take a boat tour to Berlengas, an archipelago with dramatic scenery, rich wildlife and one of the most beautiful forts in Portugal.

description: From €20 per person per night in a six-bed hostel. wotelshub.com