How to jigsaw a twin bed (or a few), plus desks, shelves, and closets into a tiny room? So often the dorm puzzle is solved in the most cost-conscious and Soviet drab of ways. But privately built student housing alternatives have been cropping up in Denmark, Berlin, and other European cities that are so inventive, we’ve found ourselves looking to dormitories for small-space living ideas.
A companion movement, the boutique hostel, is equally compelling—and has a considering bunk rooms for our next vacations. Here are 11 designer dorms and dorm-style lodgings currently on our radar, starting with a 1920s classic that has become a pilgrimage stop for the devout modernist.
Bauhaus Dessau in Germany
Shown here, the Josef Albers room with two of his iconic furniture designs (a reproduction of the Bauhaus Nesting Table, in a set of four, is currently available from France & Son for $449, marked down from $760). Rooms starts at €40 ($47.64); for booking information, go to Bauhaus Dessau.
G27 Global Institute in Berlin
The firm worked in partnership with CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange), a nonprofit that runs several study-abroad programs. This one occupies a century-old former factory in Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood.
Generator Hostel in Berlin
Base Camp in Potsdam, Germany
Shown here, a 23-square-meter (247.57-square-foot) single at the BaseCamp Potsdam, with a platform storage bed of waxed birch sectioned off by netting to allow natural light to fill the room. Drawer pulls are made of a heavy fabric that picks up the color of the sconce and hanging light, both adaptations from Studio Aisslinger’s Hobo Lamp Family by Wästberg. Note the metal hanging rack incorporated into the wooden bookshelf. The felt desk chair is Studio Aisslinger’s Chairman Wood; €425 ($504.41) from Conmoto.
Base Camp in Lodz, Poland
Base Camp in Copenhagen
“Our main concern was to create a flexible but still production-friendly family of furniture that would allow the items to easily interact with each other, depending on the shape and size of the room,” explains Studio Aisslinger interior designer Alessandra Cetto. “The connecting piece is the desk board, which can be slid on both sides into the other elements (wardrobe, kitchen cabinet, or bed structure). This simple trick allows a lot of combinations.”
In case you’re wondering about moving into one of these rooms: BaseCamp reports that it only accepts applications from students for full semester stays and is currently juggling a lot of wait lists.
Urban Rigger in Copenhagen
Hello I’m Local, in Haarlem, the Netherlands
Independente Hostel & Suites in Lisbon
Superbude II Saint Pauli in Hamburg, Germany
Dreimeta designed the companion yellow wardrobes and put local newspapers to use as wallpaper.
Bed & Bike in Barcelona
In the market for your own bunk beds? Browse our Bunk Beds archive.
For more vacation ideas, explore our Design Travel finds.