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Hostels: the new affordable hotel?

In times past, the idea of staying in a hostel struck fear into those wishing to find cheap accommodation when on their travels.

The word itself seemed to conjure up images of filthy toilets and showers, rooms full of snoring or debaucherous tribes of strangers and the possibility of your worldly possessions being thieved.

Fast forward to 2015 and the hostel business is booming like nobodies, err, business. This is evidenced in their ever-increasing popularity across the world. In a recent piece in German news site Deutsche Welle, German Youth Hostel (DJH) movement representative Barbara Mott spoke on why hostels are often chosen over hotels. Putting it simply, she said: "We offer our guests more and more comfort."

But there are of course other reasons in relation to this point, too. Here are a few:

Internet age

Cutting out the middle man appears to be important to us in this current internet age. Rather than a back and forth between a hostel in a faraway land, booking websites have allowed for would-be holiday makers to head on a website with an database of hostel information as well as a booking service. STAY (Safe Travel Accommodation for Youth) WYSE's recent survey of hostel trends supports this assertion as they recently revealed that 29% of bookings are made via third party platforms.

A high percentage book their accommodation online

A high percentage book their accommodation online

Competition is at an all-time high

This current internet age has allowed more connectivity than ever before, allowing (as aforementioned) hostel owners and those looking for a place to stay to be mediated by a third party. But this has also allowed flat or house owners to create a timeshare-esque programme to develop through similar booking websites that claim to offer a richer experience at similar rates. As such, hostels have had to modernise to fit the needs of their clients. WiFi is readily available, bars have been installed and other perks have been introduced (like saunas, pools and games rooms.)

There are many options available, making it highly competitive

There are many options available, making it highly competitive 

They're more attuned to the needs of younger travelers

The prospect of a hotel stay may be daunting to youngsters because they may be concerned about having to be quiet and overly respectful of their surroundings. Hostels, conversely, are known for their warmer, relaxed nature, with many offering social activities for their guests. Review sites like Trip Advisor may have helped re-design the hostel model as owners can see what previous residents liked and disliked.

Common rooms and drinks deals often help reel in young clients

Common rooms and drinks deals often help reel in young clients

...but still attractive to other social/age types

With a younger market as a central focus, this does not mean that hostels don't target other age groups. Those in an older age bracket are also widely using hostels when they need to, leading hostels to accommodate for their needs too. STAY WYSE's recent survey found that 

"10% of YTA [youth travel accommodation] properties are now aimed at the flashpacker market aged 35 or older, with bed and breakfast operators most likely to make up this market."

Bed and breakfast is a very attractive perk of many hostels

Bed and breakfast is a very attractive perk of many hostels

With these factors all acknowledged, it is easy to see why hostels are no longer considered for those on a budget, but affordable places to stay that provide more than just a place to bed down for a few nights.