Hostel, in the context of travel, is a form of relatively cheap accommodation for travellers and for youth groups, which provides shared accommodation. 'Hostel' means that, at the minimum, there will be some dormitory accommodation. Hostels usually also have common areas, a youthful and traveller orientation, and information on the local area and travel to other locations.

The concept of 'youth hostels', as they were originally known, started in about 1910 in Germany and was soon copied in several European countries. Originally, each Hostelling International organisation sought to provide low cost accommodation in rural areas for young city workers, with an emphasis on hiking, cycling and other healthy activities.

With the advent of international travel, hostels not affiliated to Hostelling International associations were established: these were often known as backpackers hostels. Today, there is less difference between Hostelling International hostels and non-Hostelling International hostels, and both are often referred to as "backpackers".


Hostelling International (HI)

Many hostels have affiliated themselves with Hostelling International (formerly International Youth Hostel Federation)--a network of over 90 separate national hostelling organizations. Note that not all hostels are affiliated to HI, and that there are also other hostelling networks. The best indicator of quality is a hostel's online reviews, which can be found by searching online.

Booking Hostels

It is advisable to book hostels in advance rather than just turning up and hoping that there will be a suitable bed. To find a hostel, search online or read hostel reviews on various hostel booking sites.

Many hostels appreciate it when guests book directly with the hostel, because the hostel then saves money on commissions that they have to pay to external booking systems.

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