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We Heart’s 12 Days of Christmas — 05

12 budget hotels that don't scrimp on design and innovation...

We Heart’s 12 Days of Christmas — 05

Cheap and chic may be a terrible cliché, dying a slow death on the pages of broadsheet weekend magazines, but the shifting tide in association between great design and good value is a welcome one, especially for frequent travellers who hold experience dearer than an over-friendly concierge...

The festive period may well be the time of year to flex your plastic on all manner of unnecessary evils, but the upshot of said frivolous control of your pursestrings is a need to batten down the financial hatches elsewhere. Lavish city breaks bedding down in design hotels with a rack rate that’d give your parents a coronary? Save it till the summer. In fact, the ongoing ascendency of the ‘hip hostel’ phenomenon increasingly means that you can enjoy the bleeding-edge of contemporary design and a weightier wallet whatever the season.

Perhaps a result of the continuing European aviation price wars – Flybe were just one of the airlines pushing the ‘big two’ cheap flight carriers this year – boutique is no longer a byword for bedbugs on the continent, with an increasing number of hotel/hostel/b&b properties pushing the hospitality envelope and getting us hot under the collar with innovative design. Cheap and chic may be a terrible cliché, dying a slow death on the pages of broadsheet weekend magazines, but the shifting tide in association between great design and good value is a welcome one, especially for frequent travellers who hold experience dearer than an over-friendly concierge. As our 12 Days of Christmas continue, how’s about a roundup of our favourite European accommodation that puts unconventional innovation in the hands of those who didn’t get their bankers bonus this year? Go on then…

#wh12days

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 03

Location aside, in our opinion, the fiery jewel in Generator’s crown is the Fiesta Gràcia Bar, the ceiling festooned with flame coloured lanterns, the walls layered with collage murals…

Generator Barcelona

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 03

Presumably The Student Hotel is hoping for a better class of short term guest than we’ve proved to be in the past, for the sake of the nation’s future as much as anything, as it is offering room rates per month for scholars and per night for visitors all under the same, albeit vast, roof…

The Student Hotel, Amsterdam

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 03

Photo, Francis Amiand

Phillipe Starck lent his design spunk to the creation, delivering a very modern and cliché-free, cool and colourful baby – although proclaiming to reference the ancient city itself may be a stretch too far… the expanding chain is rapidly forging its own house style…

Mama Shelter, Istanbul

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 03

Photo © Jan Brockhaus

They’ve made the unusual move of bringing their collection of three vintage caravans indoors and parking them in the middle of a living room. How very Berlin. All the parts made redundant by the hotel facilities have been stripped out of the ‘vans, freeing up space and introducing a boutique feel…

Hotel Hüttenpalast, Berlin

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 03

Upstairs are the six boutique rooms, decorated in a variety of styles to suit every taste. Among them are slick, white and modern, a classy period number, and a kitschy cabin look, and how often do you see a four poster bed in a B&B?…

Linnen Bed & Breakfast, Berlin

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 03

This is definitely Daniel Craig, rather than Roger Moore, tough and functional looking but still with enough style to get the girls (and boys – Ventura has got rooms for both) – budget accommodation with looks that could kill…

Room007 Ventura, Madrid

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 03

© Russell’s of Clapton

Quite simply, stylish accommodation that doesn’t leave your wallet feeling like it’s done the proverbial ten rounds is frankly non-existent in the capital – or at least it was until former music industry worker Annette Russell set herself up in an up-and-coming area of Hackney, East London…

Russell’s of Clapton, London

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 03

The designers took off in a Fiat van to scour the surrounding region’s markets and fairs for suitable additions to the interior. Among their finds now restored and sitting pretty inside Generator Venice are a salvaged rustic pantry table and a show-stopping apothecary shelving and drawer unit…

Generator Venice

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 03

Photo, BaseCamp Young Hostel Bonn

German set designer Marion Seul turned her televisual talents to tarting up the caravans inside and out at this hip Bonn hostel, and her diverse designs offer something in a style to suit everyone’s tastes – assuming your taste includes caravans and motor homes, of course…

BaseCamp Young Hostel Bonn

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 03

When the brewery moved out the building was used as an art gallery, and when the hotel building contractors arrived they found the remnants of a street art exhibition still adorning the walls. Rather than break out the magnolia emulsion, Meininger went the other way and invited 20 urban artists from across Europe to expand on the theme…

Meininger Brussels

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 03

The Porto hotel doesn’t go overboard on decoration; objects within the traditional Portuguese property are often painted the same colour as their surroundings, the subtle embellishments hiding in plain sight, such as the wall ornaments and the turned wooden bedside tables…

Pensão Favorita, Porto

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 03

One area that didn’t pay the price to make the books balance is U Hostel’s design and layout. Custom made bunk-beds fit unobtrusively into the cool white dormitories, and the terraced seating area of the cinema is a cleverly comfy place to watch Vincent and Mia do their thing at Jack Rabbit Slim’s…

U Hostels, Madrid

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