AskDefine | Define hostel

Dictionary Definition



1 a hotel providing overnight lodging for travelers [syn: hostelry, inn, lodge]
2 inexpensive supervised lodging (especially for youths on bicycling trips) [syn: youth hostel, student lodging]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. a budget-oriented overnight lodging place, with dormitory accommodation and shared facilities
  2. a temporary refuge for the homeless providing a bed and sometimes food (this definition is never used in the USA)


an inexpensive overnight lodging place
a temporary refuge for the homeless providing a bed and sometimes food

Related terms

Extensive Definition

Hostels provide budget-oriented accommodation where guests can rent a bed, sometimes a bunk bed in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels are generally cheaper for both the operator and the occupant; many hostels employ their long-term residents as desk clerks or housekeeping staff in exchange for free accommodation.
An effort should be made to distinguish between establishments that provide longer term accommodation (often to specific classes of clientèle such as nurses, students, drug addicts, arrested persons subsequently bailed to await trial and homeless people where the hostels are sometimes run by Housing Associations and charities) and those offering short term accommodation to travellers or backpackers.
Within the 'traveller' category another distinction can be drawn between hostels that are members of Hostelling International (HI), a non-profit organization encouraging outdoor activities and cultural exchange for the young and independently operated hostels. Hostels for travellers are sometimes called backpackers' hostels, particularly in Australia and New Zealand (often abbreviated to just backpackers).

Differences from Hotels

There are several differences between hostels and hotels. Some major advantages of hostels include:
  1. Hostels tend to be budget-oriented. Rates are considerably lower, and many hostels have programs to share books, DVDs, and other items.
  2. For those who prefer an informal environment, hostels do not usually have the same level of formality as hotels.
  3. For those who prefer to socialize with their fellow guests, hostels usually have more common areas and opportunities to socialize.


There is less privacy at hostels than at hotels. Sharing a sleeping dormitory is very different from staying in a private room at a hotel or Bed & Breakfast, and might not be comfortable for those requiring more privacy.
Theft can be a problem since guests may share a common living space, but this can be avoided by securing guests' belongings. Most hostels offer some sort of system for safely storing valuables, and an increasing number of hostels offer private lockers.
Noise can make sleeping difficult on occasions, whether from snoring, sexual activity, someone returning late or leaving early, or the close proximity of so many people. This can be easily solved by wearing earplugs when visiting noisier hostels.

Travellers hostels

The traditional hostel format involved dormitory style accommodation. Some newer hostels include en-suite accommodation with single, double or quad occupancy rooms, though to be considered a hostel they must also provide dormitory accommodation. In recent years the numbers of independent and backpackers' hostels has increased greatly to cater for the greater numbers of overland, multi-destination travellers (such as gap-year travellers, railtrippers, those on sabbaticals etc.)
The quality of such places has also improved dramatically. Whilst some hostels do still insist on a curfew, daytime lockouts, and/or require occupants to do chores, this is becoming the exception rather than the rule, as hostels adapt to meet the changing expectations of guests.

'Youth Hostel' - beginnings

External links

hostel in Arabic: نزل الشباب
hostel in Danish: Vandrerhjem
hostel in German: Herberge
hostel in Estonian: Hostel
hostel in Spanish: Hostal
hostel in French: Auberge de jeunesse
hostel in Italian: Ostello della gioventù
hostel in Hebrew: אכסנייה
hostel in Lithuanian: Nakvynės namai
hostel in Dutch: Jeugdherberg
hostel in Japanese: ユースホステル
hostel in Norwegian: Vandrerhjem
hostel in Norwegian Nynorsk: Vandrarheim
hostel in Polish: Hostel
hostel in Portuguese: Albergue
hostel in Russian: Хостел
hostel in Swedish: Vandrarhem
hostel in Turkish: Hostel
hostel in Chinese: 青年旅舍

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

boardinghouse, dorm, dormitory, doss house, fleabag, flophouse, guest house, hospice, hostelry, hotel, inn, lodge, lodging house, ordinary, pension, posada, pub, public, public house, roadhouse, rooming house, tavern
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