Waking up among the trees in Basel
Promotion piece courtesy of Jugendherberge Basel
A hostel would never be the first option I reach for on an out-of-town photography assignment. But then, the Jugendherberge I came across in Basel is not quite your run-of-the-mill hostel. I discovered it while searching for sustainable accommodation options during a trip to the historic city. The clean lines and near brutalist aesthetic of the Swiss Youth Hostel caught my eye, and I was keen to give it a try.
Tucked away between the trees on the Southern banks of the Rhine, the hostel gives you the impression that it’s somewhere deep inside a forest, even though it’s but a 20min walk from Basel central station. A bridge across the crystal water of the St. Alban’s waterway welcomes you to the entrance. With an open lamella hugging the older stone structure that leads into the modern one, the bare oak beams add a pastoral quality in their mimicry of the neighbouring woods.
The architecture is a beautiful mix of modern and old. The original building dates back to a 1850s silk ribbon factory before it was transformed into a hostel during the 80s. The modern-day interpretation was completed by Buchner Bründler Architects in 2010. Paying homage to the buildings industrial past, haptic and natural materials like concrete, wood and stone are used through-out, while the floor to ceiling windows draw the surrounding nature into the space. The interior design story continues this interpretation with an understated yet tasteful choice of furnishings.
With their laid back and warm approach, the welcoming personnel made me feel at home in an instant. The place has that easy going, come-as-you-are openness that one can expect from a hostel. Yet the private rooms with their on-suite bathrooms and open balconies, bestowed that sense of luxury a hotel room should offer–with all the comforts you would expect (minus a kettle and TV–details I did not miss). Even the shared- and family rooms maintain the impression of good taste; simple yet comfortable and impeccably clean.
The hostel has an HI-Q and a platinum Ibex Fairstay certification which means they are committed to high standards and positive impacts. The accreditation is based on criteria demonstrating effective sustainable management of resources, maximizing social and economic benefits for the local community, cultural heritage and environment as well as the preservation of biodiversity, ecosystems and surrounding landscapes. Some examples include low-maintenance and natural building materials, resource saving and mindful housekeeping routines and products as well as the use of locally sourced produce.
Judging by the amount of toddlers running around at breakfast time, the hostel is quite popular amongst families. I enjoyed my breakfast and dinner in the dappled sunlight of the outside terrace, watching birds bounce from tree to branch with the soft roar of the water tumbling over rocks in the distance. I would certainly choose to stay here again should a future adventure bring me to Basel.
A special thanks to the house manager and team of Jugendherberge in Basel for their efforts in making my stay truly memorable.
youthhostel.ch | firstname.lastname@example.org | Tel: +41 61 272 05 72 | Jugendherberge Basel, St. Alban-Kirchrain 10, 4052 Basel, Schweiz
Text & Photography © Barbara Cilliers
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