The words 'chic' and 'retreat' are not words we'd usually associate with the hostels we've had the misfortune to encounter, but in Dublin there's one hostel that is ready to redefine all that. Niamh O'Donoghue sits down with Generator Hostel's Mark Ward.

Hostelling has nearly always been interpreted as the ‘cheaper option’ when travelling, and more-so used as a resting spot with little regard for any alluring demeanour; until now. A new wave of cultural entertainment and comfort is transcending onto our booming tourist industry, as well as Dublin’s young and creative community: Welcome to The Generator Hostel.

Situated in close proximity to the heart of the city, the hostel not only acts as a nirvana for weary heads, but as a live venue, a bar, a café, a cinema, and cultural hub. Mark Ward is the events coordinator at Dublin’s only Generator hostel in Smithfield, I met him to learn more about the growing global franchise. On arrival to the hostel I was immediately taken aback by what could only describe as an upscale-urban retreat; I was greeted by a large open space merged with rustic and natural materials that combined together beautifully. Mark himself was as equally cool and laid-back.

“The first was opened by an Irish guy in London in 1997. It ran for fifteen years successfully before an American firm invested 250 million euro to develop the hostel branch. There are now eight around Europe; with a further two more opening in Rome and Paris in January. Our Amsterdam venue will also open in two years’ time.”

Each property inherits its unique ambiance from its surroundings; the Smithfield Hostel shares a home with the old Jameson Whiskey Distillery, which is visible by its primitive anterior. Inside, red and copper bricks add a warm and homely feel to large open interior.

One thing that always catches visitors’ attention when they walk in is the unique Jameson chandeliers hanging in the café, “Jameson actually didn’t give us the chandeliers; we had to make them ourselves. They’re probably the most photographed thing in the building.”

The hostel is home to 550 beds making it the largest in Ireland, but staying is not an essential aspect of experiencing the Generator; “It’s somewhere different; we’re not a nightclub but we work with external promoters and do one-off events where you can bring your own booze and just enjoy yourself. We don’t want to draw in the typical “club-goer” crowed. It creates the kind of exposure we want and receives attention from the right people”. The hostel is also home to Smithfield’s own indoor monthly market with over 35 stalls- its lots of fun for all the family and is free of charge and a great way to see local produce.

The space is a great support system for local up-and-coming artists, musicians, and creative minds alike by providing a unique location to showcase their work; the most recent collaboration being between the Generator and urban brand, The Collective Dublin. “It’s a nice PR stunt and any showcase we can do for Le Cool or the local creatives like Block B and Block T we will try our best to support them.” Smithfield is slowly emerging away from the drug, and anti-social problems that once threatened the area; and is becoming a blossoming cultural nerve centre.

Fancy doing something different the weekend? You can take part in a guided bicycle tour of the city with the hostel for 3 hours at €15 per person- normally these run (or cycle) at €25 per person at city-centre locations.

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Check out The Generator Hostel Dublin here.