Room for Inspiration
This new hostel in San Juan, La Union is sleek, chic, and utterly cool
VESSEL HOSTEL: TROPICAL MINIMALIST. This modern hostel in La Union is made primarily of repurposed container vans and upcycled wood pallets.
Not all hostels are created equal. While most offer the very basic of accommodations, some, like Vessel Hostel, provide a few extras that spell a lot of difference.
Couple Buji and Nikki, both architects and professional surfers, thought of establishing Vessel Hostel when they noticed the lack of lodging in the booming surf town. Having their house on the same lot (see their home on p. 30) made it easy for Buji and Nikki to pursue their plans. The challenging part, though, was hauling the materials over from Metro Manila and making sure everything went according to plan.
Vessel, a four-storey structure, is made primarily of repurposed container vans and upcycled wood pallets. A friend supplied the container vans, which were stacked on top of each other by a crane the couple hired from Manila. Buji and Nikki had to shuffle back and forth from Metro Manila to La Union, sometimes lugging wood pallets in their car.
Buji’s love of the minimalist Japanese design inspired him to dress the hostel in the same clean but practical style. The lodging’s no-fuss interiors are lined with light-colored wood, punctuated with industrial lights and a few pops of colors: a printed sofa by the stairs landing on the third floor, a handful of vintage prints from Uvla (in Cubao X), and some potted greens. “It’s very simple but timeless. Walang clutter, very calming and
peaceful,” explains Buji, to which nikki adds, “Everything is functional.”
Buji admits to being very meticulous, and his attention to detail is clearly evident when you see the rooms. Instead of the usual steel bunk beds that are a dime a dozen in most hostels, Buji and nikki went for wooden bunks, adding a few more extras for convenience: each bed has its own makeshift desk for when guests need a working space. Electric sockets are everywhere—even by the headboard—so you can recharge your gadgets within reach. At the bottom of each bed are pull-out storage
drawers that can be padlocked for security. “Si nikki kasi, ang hilig niya mag-travel. Lagi din siyang nagse-stay sa hostels abroad... Nagtatanong ako sa kanya kung ano bang
hinahanap ng mga backpackers at saka mga guests sa hostels,” Buji says.
Aside from being a temporary home to tourists, Vessel Hostel also serves as a perfect example of what proper space planning can do. “I really wanted to share with people na kahit maliit lang—it’s a small box—but it’s how you design the area to make it feel big pa rin,” relates Buji.
The airy dining area on the top floor faces the roof deck. Here, you get a view of the mountains that surround the hostel and the sea across the street. It’s no surprise the couple picked this as one of their favorite spots.