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Hostelling in the 21st Century

The Changing Face of 21st Century Hostels

In 2002, over 50 million bed nights were booked across the planet. While everyone probably had very different requirements, the one thing that all agreed on is that hostels are the only way to go.

Catherine Gilvarry, Content Editor at, looks at how hostels have changed over the past decade or so and explains why hostel accommodation is growing increasingly popular.

The first and most significant change when it comes to choosing hostel accommodation today is that it can all be booked online and that you are guaranteed a bed with your name on it when you arrive at your chosen destination. While searching for a hostel in the past involved a series of laborious tasks: trips to bookshops, searches for up to date guidebooks, calling hostels and a whole lot more, all you have to do when using the online reservation system is choose your destination, your hostel and your dates and hey presto, a fully confirmed booking with your name on it is on its way to your inbox.

By booking your hostel online, not only are you saving money before you go, you are also ensuring your time is your own when you reach your chosen destination. So, while your fellow travellers are trawling the streets trying to find that all important vacancy, you can kick back and relax knowing that you have a bed to go back to – at whatever time you feel like!!

But has the accommodation really changed that much? Well once upon a time not that long ago a hostel was a very unique form of accommodation where rooms were dormitory style with bunk beds, where you may well have had the pleasure of sharing bathroom facilities with up to 30 fellow backpackers, where you had to be in by midnight or face the prospect of sleeping in the street, where the noise of fellow room mates almost guaranteed many sleepless nights – you probably get the picture.

The good news for any of you who might have reservations about taking a shower in the company of strangers or sharing a bunk with someone whose personal hygiene leaves quite a bit to be desired is that hostels have changed a great deal for the better. Today, many hostels are not unlike budget hotels where the only significant difference is the price. For example, many of the hostels listed on offer private rooms with en suite facilities, smaller dorms for groups of between two and eight or larger dorms where you could share with up to twenty others. As well as the rooms themselves, they offer bars and restaurants, 24-hour opening, self-catering kitchens, Internet cafes and many more added facilities.

Practical improvements aside, however, hostels have a great deal more to offer their guests. As well as the addition of the aforementioned, the buildings themselves are becoming more and more memorable. When booking a hostel with, you will find accommodation on offer in anything from a boat on the Danube in Budapest to a castle in Kilkenny or an old steam engine in Waipara to an old prison in Ottawa. So if you’re fond of the quirky, you’ll love these. (Check out our article on the Weird & Wonderful @ for more information.)

A final advantage when it comes to staying in hostels is the opportunity it presents to meet new people. The staff at is made up of many seasoned explorers and they know all too well that travelling allows you to experience new cultures and to make new and lasting friendships in a matter of minutes. What better way to do both than spending a night with a bunch of complete strangers? Most people who stay in hostels have a great deal in common, and you will find out very quickly that you fit right in. Backpackers have a sense of adventure which you will find highly contagious. After a couple of nights singing into the small hours with people from fifteen other nations around the world or playing board games with people from countries you didn’t even know existed, you will realise that you have been well and truly bitten by the travel bug. It is a multicultural experience and one which will remain with you for a very long time…

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