The Big Six: Hip European hostels

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Oops, Paris

Modern facilities, bold design and budget beds – all within easy reach of the Left Bank's main attractions. Oops is close to arty Montparnasse, within reach of Notre-Dame and a stroll away from the Jardin des Plantes botanical gardens. There are private rooms and shared dorms, each equipped with a kitchenette, free Wi-Fi and private bathrooms to avoid embarassing hops down the hallway late at night. Interiors by Philippe Maidenberg and graphic designer Daniela Millas add a touch of class.

Oops, 50 Avenue des Gobelins, Paris (00 33 1 4707 4700; oops-paris.com). Dorm beds from €23; double rooms from €95, B&B.

The Independente, Lisbon

The Independente has 90 cool, chipboard bunks spread through 11 dorms and four self-contained suites with balconies and views of the Tagus river. Encased within an Art Deco building in the heart of the bustling Bairro Alto, it exudes heritage with wooden and tiled flooring and ornate cornicing, retro televisions and vintage clocks. There's an open-to-all restaurant, beer garden and cocktail bar, plus lockers and electronic key cards.

The Independente, Rua de Sao Pedro de Alcantara 81, Lisbon, Portugal (00 351 21 346 13 81; theindependente.pt). Dorms from €10; suites from €100, B&B.

MuchoMadrid, Madrid

Beds not bunks ... that's the policy at this fun, functional hostel on the Gran Vía. It has five spacious, brightly coloured rooms with private lockers and the bonus of being steps away from some of the best nightlife and shopping in the capital. A communal kitchen and lounge provide space for lazy nights in, while free Wi-Fi and a 24-hour reception are on hand to guide guests through the city.

MuchoMadrid, Calle Gran Vía 7, Derecha, Madrid (00 34 9 1559 2350; muchomadrid.com). Dorm beds start at €20, including breakfast.

The Bulldog, Amsterdam

The Bulldog stands guard over the Red Light District with a collection of dorms, doubles and apartments scattered around a steep, spiral staircase. There are murals on the walls, a pool table and roof terrace for socialising, and pretty views of the Oudezijds Voorburgwal canal below. Perfect for a group of friends looking for an affordable base in the Dutch capital.

The Bulldog, Oudezijds Voorburgwal, Amsterdam (00 31 20 620 38 22; bulldoghotel.com). Dorm beds start at €18; doubles from €90, including breakfast.

EastSeven, Berlin

EastSeven has clean, neutral rooms with a neat little lawn outside, decked with a barbecue and long-wooden benches for sociable summer evenings. There are beers for sale in reception, bikes to hire, free walking tours and discount cards to help guests delve into Berlin affordably. The Senefelder Platz U-Bahn is seconds away and the cafés of Prenzlauer Berg are on the doorstep.

EastSeven, Schwedterstrasse 7, Berlin (00 49 30 936 222 40; eastseven.de). Dorm beds start at €14, without breakfast.

La Controra Hostel, Naples

La Controra started life as a monastery and today, it retains much of its original splendour, with large whitewashed rooms housing games room, library, kitchen and bar. The centrepiece is the palm-fringed garden, with manicured lawns and evening events throughout the year. The treasures of the Neapolitan Riviera – from Sant Agnello and Sorrento to Capri – are a boat trip away.

La Controra Hostel, Piazzetta Trinità alla Cesarea, Naples, Italy (00 39 08 1549 4014; www.lacontrora.com). Dorm beds start at €11, including breakfast.

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