What Is A Hostel? The Definitive Guide

Bobby Dyer
Hostel Fpo

You have heard of them before but you are not really sure what is a hostel.

A Hostel In Usa Fpo

When Hostels Got Started

There are many misconceptions in the United States regarding what a hostel is and what they are about.

Odds are that if you tell someone you’re staying at a hostel here in the States, you’ll be met with perplexity and disbelief. We frequently hear the comment, “Hostels are only in Europe.”

Let’s clear this up right now. Hostels are not a new thing in America. In fact, they started appearing here shortly after their creation in 1910.

True story. They’ve been around in the States for over 100 years!

Hostels were created in the summer of 1909, by a German teacher named Richard Schirrmann, who was leading a school camping trip when all of a sudden the group got caught in unexpected thunderstorms needed inexpensive accommodation. Richard led his group of students to a local house and set up beds in a dormitory-style to accommodate his group. Schirrmann received considerable support for his actions and shortly thereafter opened a makeshift hostel for hikers in the school in which he taught.

Schirrmann later opened the first official hostel on June 1, 1912, in Altena Castle, Germany.

In 1915, while serving in World War I, Schirrmann observed a Christmas Truce on the Western Front, and he wondered whether thoughtful young people of all countries could be provided with suitable meeting places where they could get to know each other.


What Hostels Are Today

Over the years, hostels have slowly continued to grow in part due to their cost appeal.

Today, not many people are familiar with what they are, and what it’s like to stay in one.

The definition of a hostel is a community-based form of accommodation, providing travelers from all over the world with a shared room of bunk beds or a private room with access to communal facilities.

The hostel community naturally has a lot of trust and it’s imperative that everyone is being respectful and adhering to the policies of the establishment. Hostels consist of a variety of room types from co-ed dorms, female-only dorms, as well as private rooms.

Hostels are a different type of accommodation than hotels. Usually, hostels are more budget-friendly and are more basic compared to hotels. They’ll have fewer amenities than hotels do, which cuts down on costs. Hostels are well-suited for people who don’t need high luxury. But don’t be fooled, hostels can be quite comfortable!

Another big difference between hostels and hotels is the room types available. While almost all hotels have private rooms with private bathrooms, hostels not only have private rooms but also have dorm-style rooms. This means there are several beds in a room, and you book a single bed.

If you book a dorm, you’ll end up sharing the room with other people, and there will be shared bathrooms. Sometimes there’s one bathroom per dorm room, while in other hostels there are shared bathroom facilities down the hall.


How Hostels Are Part Of Travel

Hostels can be a great option for younger travelers who are on a tight budget or are traveling for longer periods of time. They’re also great for solo travelers of all ages who want to meet other people.

But hostels are not exclusive to young people. Many travelers who have left their 20’s behind still enjoy staying at hostels for the social atmosphere.

While hostels will usually be cheaper than hotels, they will usually be rich in experiences. Hostels are redefining the way people view traveling.  Everyday people are meeting friends from other cultures, exploring new cities, and making lasting connections.

In the last 50 years, the American hostel movement has been gaining momentum. Even more so in the last decade as millennials move toward travel experiences that redefine the traditional.

While American travelers may not default to exploring hostels in their domestic travels, foreign youth backpackers have helped spread the popularity and awareness of U.S. hostels. Slowly we are seeing American travelers start to explore them as well.

This new appeal in the States is redefining the traditional look and feel of hostels.

Raising the Bar

Millennial travelers today want more than the bare minimums associated with traditional hostels. You want to be hosted. You are seeking a guided experience, connecting them with an authentic vibe of a city.

You want adventure!

Technology is making it easier to connect with accommodations that provide a superior travel experience. From TripAdvisor to Yelp to Booking.com and more, you can instantly evaluate how a hostel measures up to your desired trip. They also create more accountability for hostels to live up to what they promise online.

This digital relationship has created demand or hostels to move more toward a hosted and experiential approach. It’s an all-around win–win for the travel community.

Connecting to Something Bigger

Decisions about accommodations don’t solely hinge on who offers the better thread count or nicer hotel gym. Millennial travelers want to connect to something bigger than notoriety or prestige.

They want meaningful connections.

This takes different shapes all over the world. Some hostels draw appeal for their eco-friendly tourism practices. Others connect you to the underbelly of a city, showcasing how locals live. But most importantly, hostels promote cultural exchange among like-minded travelers.

Hostels are uniquely positioned to breed these multicultural experiences due to the nature of shared spaces. When staying at a hostel, you are guaranteed to meet travelers from other countries.

This interaction creates a deeper more momentous travel experience.

What Is A Hostel Room

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The typical hostel room is a dorm-style room with up to 12 bunk beds. Each traveler has their own bed as well as an area to accommodate their luggage. Bunk beds are pretty standard, which helps keep the cost affordable.

This is where people usually get turned off by hostels. The idea of sleeping in a bunk bed and sharing a room with five or 10 other people just does not appeal to a lot of people.

Dorms work best for younger travelers and those who are on a tight budget. Sometimes dorms are mixed, but often there are single sex dorms if that makes you feel more comfortable.

The social norms of the United States are strongly influenced by individualism. Therefore, communal living situations like hostels aren’t as common as they are in Europe. Hotels and motels provide guests with an experience that’s tailored more towards privacy and individual accommodations.

Hostels bring us back to a more community-based living situation, where peace and teamwork play an important role in co-living. They are a more affordable means of accommodation than staying in a motel or hotel. In addition, they provide a unique social experience. Hostels tend to attract young travelers who are looking to meet other like-minded individuals.


Hostels do offer private rooms

Dorm style isn’t your only option. Hostels are creating more and more private rooms these days to attract a wider audience of travelers.

Most hostels offer at least three types of rooms: private, co-ed dorm-style, and female-only dorms. If you choose a dorm room, you will have different options within the dorm-style allowing you to choose based on the number of beds in a room.

If you have a private room with a private bathroom, a hostel simply ends up feeling like a bare-bones hotel with a more social atmosphere. Sometimes you won’t even be able to tell you’re not in a hotel!

How Do The Bathrooms Work?

Bathroom facilities are another aspect to look at when considering a hostel. They can range from communal bathrooms shared by many people on one floor to a bathroom that’s only shared by the people in your dorm room. If you’re staying in a private room, sometimes you’ll have to use a shared bathroom, but often hostels have rooms with private bathrooms as well.


What Is It Like Staying At A Hostel

What Is A Hostel Fpo

The intent behind International Traveler’s House is spreading peace through knowledge of culture. We offer different activities at all of our locations- ranging from language lessons, hiking trips, yoga classes, art projects, cooking, and local outings. Breakfast is included at all of our locations to get your day started out right.

While the accommodations are pretty straightforward to explain, the experience of staying in a hostel is not as easy to describe. Hosteling is a transformative experience. It’s something you have to experience for yourself.

Many people avoid hostels in favor of hotels because they don’t fully understand what a hostel is like. But they can often be a fun, unique, and inexpensive place to stay while you’re traveling. The quality and characteristics of hostels vary widely, so do your research. Here’s what it’s really like to stay at a hostel.

Imagine this:

You have just booked a weekend at ITH Beach Bungalow Surf Hostel, located in Pacific Beach, San Diego.

Maybe you spent the day snorkeling in La Jolla Cove, or jet skiing in the bay.

You’re greeted at reception by someone that is from Brazil.

After getting a tour of the Bungalow, you check into your room at the top of the stairs, where you can smell the ocean breeze.

It’s Friday, and the family barbecue is just starting.

Staff members and guests have put together a feast of items to barbecue. Everyone has pitched in something different to contribute.

You’re surrounded by people from all over the world sharing food and culture.

Over by the hammocks, a few Irish guys are laughing and enjoying a view of the ocean.

In the TV room, a group of people are being taught French by one of the volunteers.

Throughout the remainder of the weekend, you explore San Diego with other guests at the hostel. Strangers quickly transform into friends, and lifelong family.

You have already planned to come visit them in their country next year.

You’ve shared your hopes and dreams with each other.

Someone from Germany taught you how to surf.

A Venezuelan woman lent you her sunglasses, because you lost yours on the flight.

You check out after eating way too many tacos, wondering if you took enough photos.

It cost you a third of the money to stay in a hostel than a hotel, and you left with three times the amount of knowledge you came in with.

You learned how to say hello in Portuguese and Russian.

The yoga teacher taught you stress management skills that you will practice for the rest of your life.

This vacation was unlike any other.

You leave feeling inspired.

Your stay at the hostel made less of an impact on your bank account.

It left an everlasting impact on your heart and soul.

Hostel travel is on the rise and we are glad to be hosting first-time hostelers from around the world. I would love to hear more about your experiences at hostels in the comments below.

What Are Hostel Facilities like?

In a typical hotel, your room will probably have television and toiletries. Maybe even a coffee or teapot. In general, hostels don’t provide these.

But since you’re on vacation to see a new place, you don’t really need a TV. And it’s not much of a burden to bring your own travel-sized toiletries.

Towels are another thing that can vary from one hostel to another. Many provide you with a towel at no charge, though they won’t replace it every day as they do in hotels.

However, sometimes you will come across a hostel that charges a buck or two for a towel, or even a deposit for the towel that you’ll get back when you return the towel at the end of your stay.

Slightly annoying and almost feels petty, but in the end, it’s not that big a deal. Either pay the fee or bring your own towel. I personally would just pay the fee to avoid adding more things to my luggage.

Many hostels also won’t provide a hairdryer. However, like most things, this varies. I once stayed at a hostel in Melbourne, Australia that had all-female dorms and there was a hairdryer in each dorm’s bathroom.

Facilities You Can Expect To Find at Hostels:

  • Social Common Rooms
  • Roof Top or Terraces
  • Outdoor Patios
  • Communal Bathrooms
  • Hammocks
  • Laundry Facilities
  • Gardens
  • Swimming Pools
  • Communal kitchen
  • Gardens
  • Hostel Bars


Who Stays in Hostels?

If you enjoy socializing and staying in a more home-style facility, then hostels are something you should try.

Hostels Accept All Types of Travelers

People often think hostels are only for the youth. In contrast, hostels host all kinds of travelers ranging from: solo travelers, backpackers, young, old, quiet, outgoing, couple, group and countless others are all welcome. Bring your sense of adventure and come stay at a hostel.

Pretty much, if you are a friendly person who is young at heart, you’ll fit right in.

More Authentic Experience

When you stay at a hostel, you get a taste of what the real city is like. You’re going to know where the locals go, find the best deals and enjoy your experience more because of it.

We avoid tourist traps like the plague. What defines a good vacation at International Traveler’s House boils down to quality connections, igniting your sense of adventure, and enjoying the beauty that San Diego has to offer.

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Working Remotely At Hostels

The secret of traveling super cheap

In every industry, technology has reduced the entry barrier for entrepreneurial souls. Want to pursue a business endeavor? You can have an online store in minutes. Need extra cash today? Become a chauffeur through apps like Uber and Lyft.

While technology has been changing the dynamics across the board, it’s revolutionizing the hospitality space.

Anyone with a spare bedroom can now host travelers from across the world through platforms such as AirBnB. Multiple online booking platforms can have your new bed and breakfast in front of travelers within an hour.

Young entrepreneurs have been embracing the new access to the hospitability industry, putting their own unique spin on what accommodations can offer. Hostels particularly have enjoyed a major makeover. This new perspective has quickened the transition to experiential lodging and emphasis on cultural connections.

We’re also fans of the bright colors and charming interior design young entrepreneurs have brought as well.

How do I work at a hostel?

If you have the appetite to do a work exchange, Worldpackers is a great place to start!

Other companies to work for in the hostel industry:


Hostels Have Become Popular In The USA

Everyone loves to take vacations from their everyday lives and experience new cities.  For most travelers in America, the cost of finding good affordable accommodation is what makes it tough to getaway.  The rest of the world including Europeans, South Americans, Asians, and Australians have been traveling the world for years on the cheap by taking advantage of great deals at hostels.  The majority of American’s think that hostels are something that you only do during your college backpacking days in Europe.  What these travelers are unaware of is that amazing hostels are popping up all across America and you can find a great night stay for under $30!

As the co-founder of the International Travelers House Hostels, I have been seeing that more and more American travelers are enjoying staying at hostels over the past few years.  American hostels were kind of an unknown industry in America, but as the word spreads about the amazing experience that you get and the money you can save, I think Americans are going to really start taking advantage of hostels.

Hostels provide travelers with not only affordable accommodation but also a friendly and social experience which is perfect if you traveling alone.  Having the opportunity to meet world travelers and share stories with people from so many cultures is a unique and special experience.  For the traveler that wants to save money and doesn’t want to be lonely in a hotel room all night, the hostel provides the perfect style of accommodation.

Hostel travel is new in America

The first hostel made in Europe was founded in 1912, the first hostel founded in the US was in 1934. A little behind the rest of the world, however now, more than ever, American travelers are embracing an inexpensive way to see their country. This affords a global opportunity for the United States to join the rest of the world in being nomad-friendly.

Many affordable motels and hotel brands in America

Hotels have been the option available for American travelers and that is all that has been known in the states since recently. Now that a more affordable option allows travelers to meet one another while staying in prime locations and offers group activities, it is a very appealing option for the new wave of American travelers.

Americans prefer private rooms than other countries

In American culture, hostels are still unfamiliar because living with strangers still has a stigma. Americans are taught to be private about where and how they live. This is rapidly changing due to worldwide travel and influencers.

Leio Mclaren Leiomclaren JEgQpfkHEWY Unsplash

With the rise of the millenniums and the opportunities for a life that is not behind a desk, more and more Americans are traveling within their own country and abroad. This is allowing for more diversity in ways to travel. It has also opened up the option for people to start their own hostels. Zoning laws are not always hostel friendly and can make it difficult to get started; but with the rise in popularity, hopefully, the openness of the housing communities in cities will continue to improve. With hostels affordability option of engaging with people from all over the world, there is no doubt that hostels will continue emerging in America.


Top 10 Cities for Hostels In The USA


Should you be staying in a hostel?

The hotel vs hostel debate is a very real struggle for many travelers. Outdated ideas of hostels see them as places for young travelers looking for budget stays and parties, but these notions are now being replaced by a new breed of the hostel that has all the amenities and style of hotels, but with the added social bonuses of a hostel.

If you’re on the fence about staying in a hostel or not, here are some pros that might make the decision easier.

Hostels are an evolving way of traveling for Americans. The education of sharing a place to stay with strangers comes from International travelers and abroad travel by Americans themselves. There is a growing understanding of what hostels themselves include and offer for travelers.

Hostels are a culture trip within your traveling experience because not only do you get the benefit of experiencing the one place you are in, but you also get to be immersed with all the cultures the people you are staying with are from as well. It is the ultimate way to dive in and be immersed in the global experience of connecting with diverse people while in a new place.

The common bond of everyone being in an unfamiliar place bonds travelers from all over the world. Having commonality with people from all over is a beautiful thing to be reminded of. No matter where you are from or what your beliefs are, people can co-exist.

Hostels are the living, breathing actualization of that.

Staying In A Hostel In San Diego


How to Choose a Good hostel?

For as many reasons as there are to give hostels a try, they just won’t work for everyone. If you’re used to a little more luxury and having things like a TV, complementary shampoo, room service, and a bellhop, you probably won’t be comfortable in a hostel.

Listen To What Other Travelers Are Saying

Finding a great hostel is easier than finding a hotel because the travelers that stay at hostels are very honest and will leave reviews that describe their recent stays.   There definitely is a wide range between your basic hostel and a hostel that will provide you with the experience of a lifetime.

Do your research when you are looking for hostels and see if they offer things such as free food each day, free daytime activities, or free nighttime social activities. Find pictures of the hostels so you can determine if it looks like a fun and clean place to hang out.  Great hostels will create cozy lounges and fun activities for their guests which makes it easy for everyone to meet each other.

Check out the booking websites Hostelworld and Hostelbookers to search cities all over the world and find yourself a great deal at a hostel for your next vacation!


How Much Does It Cost To Stay In A Hostel

Hostels are designed to be affordable for travelers by offering single beds in dorm rooms. The cost to stay in a hostel greatly depending on what city you are visiting. Generally, you can expect to pay between 60%- 85% less than the standard price for a hotel room in the same city.

In America, hostel beds are generally priced at around $25 per bed per night. Although in larger cities like Los Angeles, hostel beds have been known to reach prices upwards of $65 per night.

On the opposite end, you can find hostel beds in destinations in Asia for as low as $3 a night. The amenities you receive are basic, but you will have a roof over your head and a safe place to rest for the night.


Find A Hostel That Fits You

Decide what type of hostel you are looking for

There are so many types of hostels popping up! This is good, it means you can be more selective of the vibe you immerse yourself into. There are budget hostels, boutique hostels, unique experience hostels, party and luxury hostels to name a few. See what suits you for the location and the type of trip you are in the mood for.

  • Party Hostels
  • Solo Traveler Hostels
  • Boutique Hostel
  • Eco Hostels
  • Owner Operated Hostels
  • Fitness Hostels
  • Yoga Hostels
  • Remote Hostels
  • Surf Hostels
  • Travel Trailer Hostels


Staying In A Hostel vs Hotel

Initially, there were weird restrictions on travelers. Youth hostels enforced age barriers. Others imposed curfews by hostel “wardens” or kicked you out during daytime hours. Luckily, hostels evolved. And the world of travel is better for it. Going beyond the three hostel basics: shelter, shower, and security; hostels now look to cultivate memorable experiences.

And the rooming options expanded too. Many hostels offer private room options or all-female dorm rooms.

Hostels Are Not Only In Europe

Although hostels were first started in Europe, you can find hostels all over the world. Hostels are essential for backpackers who want to explore destinations while saving money and meeting travelers.

Top Countries For Hostels:


Are Hostels Safe?

Hostels are very safe and many provide lockers to store any valuables you have. No one wants your suitcase full of used clothes. Keep you stuff organize and locked up and you won’t have any problems.

I saw the Hostel Movie, is that what it is like at a hostel?

“Hostels? Like the movie?” MYTH

No! Nothing like the movie. Hostels are in no way like the movie portrayed. That hostel would not even be able to stay running in our virtual world. But since people have no other frame of reference,  they turn to the only thing they know about it…the movie.

Hostels are actually, the exact opposite of what the movie portrays, it is a haven for travelers. A place for the weary backpacker to find a bed and a safe place to sleep and commiserate with other travelers.

The growing popularity is making hostels more and more professional and safe. Hostels are also developing niches and levels of standards to appeal to all types of travelers.

Adventure, party, backpacker, budget, and luxury are all categories hostels pinpoint, especially in larger cities where the need for temporary accommodations with diverse populations helps to focus the demand.

Standard hotel travel is still the way a lot of Americans get around simply because that is the way it has always been. This more private style of traveling has been the way for so long the idea for some of staying with strangers is terrifying. The trust that Americans have been taught to expect from one another is very slim. But Americans travel and are changing how, why and when they do.

The sharing of culture and economy is becoming more popular. With the growing popularity, along with different types of hostels to choose from there is also different types of stays one can choose. Nightly rates are available for travelers in the area on a more short-term basis. There are also monthly rate options becoming more popular. This option is perfect for students, or people who have just moved to a city and are looking for flexible, short-term stay options.

Safety Features Offered by Hostels:

  • Lockers
  • Cameras on Property
  • Onsite Staff
  • Front desk discretion in selecting only guests that fit with the hostel mission


Age restrictions in Hostels

It is common for hostels to require you to be at least 18 years old to stay. Although not all hostels have an age minimum. Many European hostels cater to families and younger travelers. In America, Hostelling International is the best option for travelers with kids.


When to book your hostel?

You will generally find the best prices and the largest amount of availability if you book a few weeks in advance. You often can find great last-minute deals at hostels but you might miss out as hostels often fill up.


Hostel Travel Influencers

Follow our favorite travel influencer to learn more about hostels and what you can expect.

Nomadic Matt 


Pros of Staying at a Hostel


A popular movement in Europe, hostels are starting to spring up across the US. And travelers are welcoming the movement by booking in force.
So if you haven’t explored an American Hostel, here are 5 reasons why they are becoming the lodging of choice.

Travelers and students aren’t known for their deep pockets. But that shouldn’t stop you from experiencing the world while you have the time and ambition. Which is what spurred the idea behind hostels. All you really need is a place to store your stuff, a hot shower and somewhere to lay your head at night. And you need it cheap.

Thus the hostel movement was born.

At a fraction of the cost of hotel rooms, staying in a hostel you can extend your trip and give you the ability to explore more of the world.

Hostels are cheap travel accommodations, especially when compared to staying in a hotel. Although prices vary from country to country, and hostel to hostel, I’ve compiled some average price ranges for hostels in frequently traveled European countries. Most of these rates apply to the majority of hostels throughout the world, though cheaper hostels exist in places like South America, and more expensive ones in cities like Washington, D.C. These rates are approximate, and the rates are per person, per night: England & Wales $10-$40, France $15-$30, Germany $25, Greece $15, Ireland $15-$35, Italy $10-$30, Spain $15-$25.

Hostels Let You Get to Know a Place on a Local Level

Many hostels run free tours and budget trips for guests to get involved in, from city bar crawls to adventurous day trips to major attractions.

The staff are often locals who know the destination inside out and can offer insider tips and tricks for getting the most out of your trip. You can also find a large majority of hostels in the raw, up-and-coming districts of a city, rather than the central hubs, meaning there is ample opportunity to get to know the local neighborhoods on a more intimate level.

Hostel Travelers San Diego

Travel in Groups

Staying in hostels allows everyone to share large rooms. In fact, some hostels allow up to twenty people to stay in one room. This can be a lot of fun, especially when you plan a group vacation, and eliminates the arguments over who shares rooms.

Located in Most Major Cities Around the World

Hostels are not as prevalent in the U.S., but they are everywhere in Europe. You can find hostels in most major European cities, and in most major cities across the globe, on every continent other than Antarctica.

Most Have Fully Equipped Kitchens

If you want to save money during your travels by cooking your own food, many hostels have fully equipped kitchens you can use.

Breakfast Is Served

Most hostels include a free breakfast. However, when I traveled through Europe, every hostel I stayed at served just bread as the breakfast meal, so don’t expect anything extravagant.

Offer Fun Activities

Hostels bring travelers together create friendships. Since hostels cater to many solo travelers, hostels often offer activities and tours to show you the best local things to do in their city.


Hostels look to score sweet deals with ski hills, bike rentals, bars, and more. It’s all about adventure with a hostel, which is why they make connections and set up deals to help get you out exploring.

There is always something fun happening at hostels, from excursions to parties. For example, one hostel that I visited was attached to a nightclub. You likely will not be bored in the evening if you stay at a hostel.


No offense to the receptionist at the Hyatt, but you’re looking for unique insights to the city. Off the beaten path. No tourist traps. Authentic.

And a hostel is your key to the real city experience. It starts with the front desk. Hostels have like-minded travelers and locals working their front desk, giving you all the ins and outs of what to do. Looking for a good club, where the locals’ surf or the best Mexican food around? Done and done.

Meet Interesting People from Around the World

Hostels Help You Connect With Other Travelers

At their core, hostels are social hubs. Unlike hotels where travelers are confined to their own segregated rooms, hostels allow guests to socialize with each other in stylish communal areas and with plenty of events to join in with – from quizzes and dances to fancy dress parties.

Hostel bars are no longer places to get drunk on the cheap and are instead moving into spaces where like-minded travelers can connect over a beer or two.

The best part is that guests are ready and willing to meet people. They’re on the hunt for travel buddies and good conversations after a day of exploring.  Inside hostels, you can often find communal lounges, bars, and kitchens providing the perfect, laid-back atmosphere to make friends.

Local Market

Community & Travel Buddies

While the solo traveler may be iconic, exploring is best done with friends. Hostels attract people from all over the world. For you, this means a perfect spot to meet like-minded travelers to champion adventurers. Not only can you join a group to hit the bars with, but you also get to learn about different cultures and insights to traveling other parts of the world.

Added bonus: many times travelers continue onto other destinations together.

People from all over the world visit hostels, and many take the time to talk to you about where they are from, and the best places they have visited. They will also want to hear from you, so be ready to share.

Security Offered

If you are a little nervous about the safety of staying in a hostel, put your fears to rest. Hostels generally have a strict policy of not allowing anyone who is not staying at the hostel to go inside. If you worry that someone will take your belongings, many hostels do offer safes to lock up your valuables.

Each One Is Unique

Each hostel is one of a kind. They are not like hotels where if you have seen one, you have seen them all.


Cons to Staying at a Hostel

Lack of Privacy

You probably won’t have your own room if you stay at a hostel. You’ll share your room with up to 20 people, many of whom may not care that they have roommates who desire privacy. Some hostels do offer private single and double rooms, but these are usually in high demand, so may not be available during your stay. In addition, even if you aren’t particularly chatty, someone will still try to engage you in conversation pretty much any time you set foot inside the hostel.

Bathrooms for Each Floor

Hostel bathrooms are dorm-style, meaning that there is one bathroom on each floor, just like in a college dorm. Very few hostels offer private bathrooms and showers.

Staff Is Limited

Unlike hotels, which are staffed 24 hours a day, hostels are not always staffed around the clock. So if you forget your room key while having a night out on the town, there is a chance you will not be able to get into your room when it’s time to call it a night.

Some Have a Curfew

I once stayed in a hostel in France that had a curfew. If you were not through the security gate by a certain time, you were stuck out on the streets for the night. If you like to stay out late or have a habit of losing track of time, this could be a problem.

Risk of Theft

Due to the fact that you will be in a shared room, your belongings are at risk of being stolen by other guests or hostel staff. This is especially true when there isn’t a locker or safe in which to put your things.

Might Not Know Roommates

Since most hostel rooms are occupied by four to twenty travelers, you may be sharing a room with strangers. This can be a little scary for some travelers, especially because you never know who you will be sharing with until you are there.

Sketchy Neighborhoods

Some hostels, especially in metro areas, are located on streets near vacant buildings downtown. The locations are convenient but can make travelers feel a little nervous at night.

Old Buildings

Many hostels are located in old buildings. This means the elevators may malfunction, the air conditioning may be nonexistent, and in the cold months of winter, you’ll want to pack many sweaters to use for layers.

Simple Furnishings

The furnishings in a hostel tend to range from bunk beds in the bedrooms, to old couches in the lobby. The lack of redecorating is in part why hostels can remain so inexpensive.


Tips for Staying in a Hostel

Read Room Reviews

Before you book your stay, try to do as much research as possible by reading some reviews online. Keep in mind that consumer reviews are often written by people who are very satisfied or very unsatisfied, but they still give you some insight into what to expect from a particular hostel. Professional reviews provide more balanced views of hostels, and often provide specific details about amenities included, or not included, with your stay.

The good and the bad. Don’t discriminate, it is important to see all sides of the place so you know what travelers are saying. Keep in mind that the information may be biased based on who writes reviews and the fact that some travelers don’t understand the social concept of a good hostel. If a person was looking for a quiet and private stay, they will definitely leave a bad review. But reading reviews is still an efficient way to find out the basics and pick out the hostels you like and don’t.

Find Cheap hostels near me


What do they offer?

See if they are offering any events during the day or evenings which will make the vibe better. It will allow you to get to know the people you are living with and enjoy the time you have in between study seasons. See if there are any combo deals are available, such as a party bus, or a group trip to a beach or museum that has food included in the charge, mark that down as a possibility to save money and have an adventure.


Check out their social media

Every place everywhere has social media now. It is a great way to see what a company values and more importantly, what that hostel wants you to see. It is there for you to observe and see what happens on a day-to-day basis at this location, in this atmosphere. It gives you a great idea right off the bat if it is a good fit for you or not. Research their Instagram for any videos and photos that capture the experience.

Book Only One Night

Just in case you have a disastrous first night at your hostel, or you decide that you would rather stay elsewhere, book only one night. If you don’t like the hostel, you can leave the next day, and you can always extend your stay if you have an enjoyable first night.

Book the Appropriate Hostel and Room

Some hostels offer single-sex rooms, and some offer coed rooms. Some hostels offer 4-person rooms, and some offer 20-person rooms. Make sure that you book the right room at the right hostel for your comfort level. This is especially important if you are planning on traveling alone.

Ask other travelers

Ask the people you trust, the people you like when you travel. If they like a place, most likely you and other people like you with similar travel priorities will be at this location too.

Ultimately, who would know better about a great place to stay than a friend or someone from the place you are going to? Seeking first-hand reviews is the best, most accurate way to get your information about a place to stay.

Bring Your Own Toiletries

Hostels are not hotels, and do not provide many of the things we take for granted when we stay at hotels. For example, most hostels do not provide towels, shampoo, or even soap. Most do offer sheets, but some do not, so make sure to check into the amenities offered by the hostel before your stay.

Bring Flip-Flops

When using a public shower that has been used by people from around the world, take precautions against bacteria and fungi. You don’t want to take home athlete’s foot as a travel souvenir.

Buy Ear Plugs and a Blindfold

You need rest after a long day of traveling, but your roommates might have an entirely different plan, including a loud party in or near your room. Bring some earplugs or an iPod, and a blindfold, to help your body tune out any noise and light while you sleep.

Be Considerate of Your Roommates

You hope that your roommates will be considerate of you, and you need to be considerate of them. Make sure to come in quietly in the evenings, and to leave quietly in the mornings. Also, layout your clothes the night before if you plan to leave early, so you don’t have to rummage through your bag in the early hours of morning.

Protect Your Valuables

Keep your money and your passport with you, or in a safe. If the hostel does not have lockers, ask the front desk if they can hold your valuables for you. If you take advantage of a hostel during a backpacking trip, keep all your belongings on your back to ensure the safety of your valuables. Your roommates may seem nice, but if you don’t know them, you can never be 100% sure.

Talk to Management If You Are Unhappy

If you don’t like your roommates, or if you have a bad experience staying next to the people on your floor, talk to management to see if you can get a room change, a room upgrade, or a refund. They may say no, but they may try to do what they can to make your experience more enjoyable, and memorable.

Swap Stories and Travel Tips

To get the most out of your trip, put away any shyness you may have and start talking to people in your room, or in the bathroom, kitchen, or breakfast area. Listen to the amazing stories people have to share, and then share some of your own. Ask them about their favorite cheap travel destinations, restaurants, and shopping areas to enhance your traveling experience.

Hostels Cater to a Wide Audience

No longer the meeting point for young travelers, hostels are branching out to reach a wider audience. Upmarket designs and luxury facilities mean that plenty of older travelers and even families can get more out of a hostel stay than a hotel.

Independent travelers of all ages check into hostels every day to create local connections and to peel back the layers of a place in a way that hotels don’t allow.

Find the deals

Research deals happening on online booking websites like hostelworld.com. Then call the hostel directly and speak with their team to receive a matching rate compared to the promo you see online.

Tip: When you book directly, you will receive better deals

Get the details

Ask the hostel if they offer any discounts or upgrades for extended stays. It can’t hurt to ask and depending on the time of year, you might just hit the jackpot. If it is the slow season in the city you are going to or just a slow week in general, you might score a discount on your stay.

Tip: The longer you stay, the better the deal they can give you


Hostels Are Cheaper Than Hotels With the Same Facilities

Though most hostels are considerably cheaper than their hotel counterparts, they still provide the same services and amenities as those pricier places. The vast majority of hostels have luxury bars, lounge areas, WiFi, and serve meals throughout the day.

What’s more, hostels encourage you to save money in creative ways, like providing communal kitchens where you can cook local food with new-found friends.

Hostels give travelers of all ages and backgrounds the chance to get beneath the skin of a place, by providing a hub for creating like-minded connections, offering opportunities to get to know a city with locals through trips and tours, and are a great way to save money without compromising on quality and amenities. What’s not to love?

Revolutionizing the Hostel Experience

While the hostel experience has been evolving, at International Travelers House, we pushed the boundaries on what hostels could offer. We don’t want this just to be a place to put your head down at night; we want to be your gateway to adventure.

Your experience matters. We want your trip to be the best ever.


Where Hostels Are Going In The Future

Hostels are continually pushing the traditional boundaries of what your lodging can offer. In today’s world, you are seeing hostels pivoting to the demand for coliving since travelers are able to work remotely and want to experience destinations for longer periods of time.

Hostels that focus on building their brands centered around the idea of being the best hosts possible will always win. You don’t want to stay at a place where they can just check in and put their bags down. When you travel, you are looking to immerse yourself in a community of like-minded travelers and experience the best things a destination has to offer.

If you’re looking to enjoy this revived movement sweeping through the States, check out all of our hostels. Once you enjoy this new style of travel, you’ll never be able to enjoy anything but the hostel lifestyle.

Cofounder of ITH Hostels. I love traveling, hosting, gardening, golfing, fishing, and sailing.

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