The concept of youth hostels may conjure up images of dreadlocked hippies, dirty bathrooms and enormous 70 litre backpacks strewn all over the floor. While this may have been the case a few decades ago, today youth hostels have reinvented themselves as a clean, safe social experiences for travellers of all ages.
Here are our top 10 reasons to love youth hostels.
1. Easy to book
Thanks to websites like Hostelworld.com and HostelBookers.com reserving rooms has never been easier. Simply jump online, punch in your destination and the websites will pull up a comprehensive list of hostels to choose from.
2. Squeaky clean
Like Hotels.com or Booking.com, hostel platforms offer a complete overview of guest reviews and experiences. You can even sort results according to your own personal preferences. It’s safe to say that most over 50s tend to champion cleanliness and most good hostels deliver. Take the time to read reviews, check out the star ratings and choose a hostel that meets your expectations. Boutique properties are usually a delight, as are establishments run by groups like Hostelling International, which conforms to worldwide standards.
3. Choose your style
When navigating the youth hostel sphere, it’s important to remember that different establishments cater to different calibres of travellers. For example, in Europe there’s often a big focus on party hostels featuring late curfews, rowdy bars and big dormitories. In general, we’d shy away from these sorts of properties and opt for something smaller and more refined. Again, reviews can reveal a lot.
4. Unlock big savings
One of the biggest draws of hostels is the savings on offer. In the 1900s youth hostels were created to offer young people an affordable way to travel. The concept quickly caught on and today hostels offer incredible savings across the globe. For example, in Big Sur California rooms with a view go for an eye-watering $300 or more. Though visit the adorable HI Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel and you can score oceanfront views for under $100 a night. Oh, and did we mention that the hostel is housed in a restored 19th-century lighthouse cottage perched on the edge of a rugged cliff and set in flower-filled gardens?
5. Plenty of privacy
Spoiler alert – hostels offer so much more than just noisy dorms. If you value privacy, space and a good night’s sleep, private rooms tick all the boxes. And often they can be a similar price to booking a pair of dormitory beds which makes them a fantastic option for couples. Some offer en suites, while others opt for a shared bathroom, usually on the same floor.
6. Go boutique
Over the last few years a new breed of hostel has emerged – boutique. Small, intimate and beautifully designed, these types of hostels cater to travellers who value a unique experience and impeccable attention to detail. For example, we adore Sir Toby’s in Prague. It’s housed in a characterful heritage building and is filled with beautiful antiques, board games and home baked cookies. Looking for more inspiration? This countdown of boutique hostels in Europe will have you reaching for your passport.
7. A unique stay
Forget chain hotels. With hostels you can often unlock access to unique properties like Hostel Ruthensteiner in Vienna, set in a beautiful craftsman building that dates to the 1800s. We’re also itching to get behind bars in the Jailhouse Christchurch, located in a converted 1800s prison.
8. A social experience
For social travellers, hostels are an invaluable resource. If you’re travelling solo they can be a fantastic way to meet new people from across the globe. Some even offer group excursions which means you can sign up for tours and make friends along the way. Sure, the demographic may be a little younger. But pick the right hostels and you’ll find that most travellers tend to be friendly, open minded and more than happy to soak up a few words of wisdom from their elders.
9. Extra amenities
Hostels have always been a favourite with budget travellers. This means they often feature well-equipped kitchens to help guests save on eating out. Whether you’re watching your credit card balance or simply love the freedom of being able to cook your own meals, these sorts of facilities can be a big draw. Depending on the property, you could also find spacious common rooms designed for socialising, on-site restaurants, lush gardens, sparkling swimming pools and more.
10. Age limits
While some hostels tend to slap age limits on their guests, most welcome travellers of all ages. And let’s be real, do you really want to stay in a raucous party hostel that caters exclusively to twenty-somethings? Instead, look for hostels that champion an “everyone’s welcome” approach. We guarantee they’ll be cleaner, friendlier and more comfortable.
Whether you’re globetrotting or plotting adventures close to home, you’ll quickly find that hostels can be a rewarding accommodation choice. Why not get started with this curated collection of New Zealand hostels from Forbes?
Do you have experience staying in hostels as a senior traveller? Maybe you’re flirting with the idea on your next trip? Either way, we’d love to hear from you so go ahead and share in the comments below.