A uniquely stylish new hostel has made its home in the former editing office and pressroom of socialist newspaper, ‘Dagblad Vooruit’, in Ghent, Belgium. Conveniently located in the middle of the university nucleus of the city, opposite renowned art centre and former socialist workers’ centre, Vooruit, Backstay Hostel Ghent‘s trendy interior and international feel echoes the vibrant culture of its surroundings.
The hostel’s structure, which dates back to 1930, was designed by architect, Fernand Brunfaut, and its striking art deco facade of frosted glass and ironwork retains much of its beauty even today.
Much of the original interior, designed by Maxime Brunfaut, was unfortunately lost after the newspaper went bankrupt – the building standing empty for some time before being reallocated as as cultural centre, ‘The Backstage’, in 1983.
In 2009, the complex was bought by Estate Upgrade, and significant work has been undertaken to restore and renovate this monumental building into a trendy, design-led hostel, offering 108 beds and 15 rooms, as well as multiple public spaces.
Architectural firm A154 was responsible for restoring the facade and entrance hall in accordance with the building’s Listed status, while Nele Van Damme collaborated with Yannick Baeyens on the interior.
The renovation process undertaken was intensive and a number of setbacks – including the discovery of a dry rot fungus which led to the removal of the original ceiling – had to be overcome. The team has, nonetheless, consciously embraced and retained the architectural and historical significance of the building through its design.
The ground floor has been designed as a meeting place for hostel guests and Ghent residents – the lobby bar, breakfast room and tropical-inspired terrace integrating seamlessly into one large space to anchor this communal feel.
The bar – open to travellers, Ghent residents and walk-in custom alike – is simplistic, yet contemporary. Colourful globes illuminate the space, while the bar itself has been upholstered with hundreds of wooden typesetting letters.
Elsewhere, a brick-lined lounge space named the Travellers Zone features a library, comfortable seating, table football, pianos and guitars – providing a space in which guests can relax and socialise during their stay.
The dorm rooms and private bedrooms are all named after famous international newspapers, including Le Monde, Die Zeit, La Stampa, the New York Times, El PaÃs, and the Guardian. Each floor is distinguished by a specific colour, extending into the dorm rooms themselves, which are complete with simplistic, yet stylish custom-made furniture.
Uniquely, a blog-room, located in the illuminated tower of the hostel’s facade, celebrates the writers that frequented these rooms – from the journalists writing for ‘Dagblad Vooruit’ to famous Flemish poets, Louis Paul Boon and Richard Minne – and encourages travellers and Ghent residents alike to jot down their stories.