Backpacking no longer a foreign tourists' preserve

Backpacking no longer a foreign tourists' preserve

Backpacking no longer  a foreign tourists' preserve
Backpacking being associated only with foreign tourists is a thing of the past. With increasing demand from Indian travellers, hostels in Bengaluru are opening new branches even as more are entering the space.

Targeted at travellers, the hostels have dormitories and private rooms which are reasonably priced, mostly ranging between Rs 400 and Rs 2,000 per night. Bean bags, artwork on the walls, musical instruments, a constantly-changing book collection and thank-you notes in every language are characteristics of the many such hostels in the city.

Electric Cats Bed and Breakfast in Indiranagar has hosted over 1,500 guests, mostly from European countries, in the past year and half.  “Of late, we have been getting a lot of domestic guests who are first-timers. They have a good experience here and often come back to us,” said Stanley Lobo, who quit his corporate job to set up the place. Social evenings with jam sessions on the rooftop and barbecue nights are what make Electric Cats appealing. The demand is such that Lobo opened a second hostel in the same area a few months ago.

Besides the affordable prices, it is the social vibe that attracts youngsters to such co-living spaces. Vaishnavi Shivakumar has stayed at Social Rehab, another hostel in Indiranagar, four times now. “The people who stay here develop a bond because we have so much fun together. It feels like we are a family and this is our home.”

It’s always a new bunch of people, as most travellers stay only for a couple of nights before moving along on their journey. “We also have people who stay here during their internships because they prefer this to a paying guest accommodation,” said Pratik Kumar, who established the hostel along with Rishabh Jain. Seeing nearly 95% occupancy in the past few months, they decided to open a new branch, ‘Social Rehab Downtown’ on Lavelle Road.

The latest one to join the league is Cuckoo Hostel in Koramangala. Rajat Kukreja looked at nearly 200 properties before he finalised on this old house in a neighbourhood so cosy, one wouldn’t realise that the busy Sony World junction is only 200 metres away.

“I felt the need for a place where youngsters could get together to create, instead of only consuming at movie theatres and restaurants. I also have a passion for travelling, so I connected the dots and decided to start this hostel,” Kukreja explained.

Though the place was targeted at foreign tourists, to his surprise, Cuckoo has attracted youngsters from all over the country. In less than two weeks of its opening, they have already hosted over 35 people. The hostel promotes sustainable living, a spirit which is reflected in the interiors of the place. Most furniture here has been repurposed or upcycled like beds made of industrial packaging and lockers salvaged from an abandoned factory. Kukreja has plans to conduct events and workshops in the space.

Marvin Diaz is in the city for his internship and has been staying here from the beginning. “Sometimes you have a wildlife photographer, tattoo artist, graphic designer - all under one roof. You get to learn so much just by being with these people.”
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