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Zostel Panchgani: India’s first ship container hostel

Just five hours away from the bustle of India’s financial capital, India’s youth hostel brand – Zostel decided to pay homage to the coastal charm of Mumbai with shipping containers. Perched upon a cliff in the beautiful hills of Panchgani, Maharashtra this property is built purely by up-cycling shipping containers, making it the first hostel of its kind in India.

Following a lengthy round of R&D and six months of mock trials in Pune, young entrepreneurs Chetan Dalvi and Ajinkya took nearly two years to complete the unique cantilever design of the hostel, playing with shipping containers like Lego blocks. Ensuring that every container has its own immersive view of the Krishna valley, the 48-bed hostel is inspired by the beautiful surroundings.

Succinctly designed, the compact rooms pack in a cozy bed, bath and a two-member balcony overlooking the lush landscape. The hostel has a private container dorm, six-bed mixed container dorms, and six-bed female container dorms all joined to a common game and hangout area thus making it ideal for any traveller looking to make some friends along the way. Just like all other Zostel franchises, it also offers amenities like laundry services, parking services, free Wi-Fi, hot water, and breakfast for visitors.

80% of the hostel is made up of upcycled ship containers and it is almost an architectural marvel to watch then partially plotted off the cliff. Each container had maximum load and capacity reminder painted in bold, as if really on board a ship. The mid-size container private rooms were comfortable with a queen size bed and all modern amenities. And the tiny balcony was perfect to watch the views of the valleys and misty mornings of Panchgani.

While their friendly cafe served a mix of modern Indian and continental dishes, it retained the true flavour of the hill station with its all-day puff and tea menu. Panchgani also known the land of strawberries is only a couple of hours away from Pune and Mumbai and the young vibe of this Zostel have made it a popular getaway in just a month since it opened. Keeping the hostel concept alive, they also hosted a walking tour to the nearby Table Land offering aerial views of the valley.

“Functional decor ideas more than just aesthetic appeal”

Marketing head for Zostel India, Akshat Jain, said: “We imagine each Zostel to have as many elements as possible to showcase the place it is in. This is one of the central themes of the Zostel concept, unlike other franchise models. We achieve this by designing the interiors of the place in the theme of the specific location. The approach is always towards functional decor ideas more than just aesthetic appeal.”

Local artist impressions in the common areas of the container hostel (as the locals call it) resonate with the relaxed attitude of this hill town and Zostel’s traveller mindset. Striking is an ode to Frida Kahlo that the makers of Zostel Panchgani said was a personal choice of the artist himself.

Lit up with mood lights in the evenings, playful banter in the common area that seemed to be buzzing with millennials from nearby cities and the chill in the air; indeed make Zostel Panchgani an ideal getaway for a concept stay over the weekends.

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