Hostel And Its History: Blast From The Past

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I have been thinking a lot about how to describe hostels in the best way. Finally, I have decided to show you what in my opinion are the most important components of the hostel.

what is a hostel infographic

The infographic above presents basic elements that vary hostels from most of the hotels. Let’s start with shared dorms. Usually, in the hostel, you will sleep and share the room with other people. Important rule: for each night you pay for a bed. Not for the room. Good news is that nowadays hostels offer also private rooms for all those people who prefer more privacy.

Hostels are supposed to be an affordable type of accommodation. That is why usually they are fairly cheaper than hotels or motels.

Shared facilities and social spaces are places where you will meet other fellow travellers, where you can relax and hang out. You will most probably share with other bathrooms, toilets and kitchen. Don’t be scared! It might be more fun than you expect.

A very important point of hostels which is emphasized by most of them is the social aspect. This is the place that gives a chance to meet travellers from around the world, share stories and participate in various activities. By creating cool, vibrant common space it gathers people who want to spend a good time. 

There are many different types of hostels:

  • party,
  • family,
  • surf,
  • eco-hostel, etc.

What is most important is that one place can connect more than one of those types. The list can be very long and I guess it depends on the creativity of the people who create that hostel and demands of the market.

Since there are many different categories of the hostel it is important to make the right selection while booking your stay. If you are not looking for parties, make sure you will not choose the hostel focused on parties.

The history: let’s go back to the roots!

The concept of a hostel doesn’t have such a long history as hotels and it goes back to 1909. This is when german teacher Richard Schirrmann has noticed the need for an overnight, cheap accommodation for his students during short trips so they could get other experience from the one that they get in school. In 1912 he established the world’s first youth hostel in Altena Castle in Germany (still is existing and in use!). By helping in daily duties like cleaning and cooking students could sleep together in the dorms and earn some extra money.

R. Schirrmann continued his work and in 1919 has found the German Youth Hostel Association. The concept of youth hostel has spread widely in Germany and in Europe. By 1930 there were more than 2000 hostels only in Germany.

Later on, in 1932 International Youth Hostel Federation (since 2006: Hostelling International) was founded in Amsterdam and Richard Schirrmann has become its first chairman. The organization gathered youth hostels from many countries in Europe like Poland, Germany or Switzerland and Great Britain.

The idea of youth hostels was simple: young people help in hostel tasks and in exchange to get cheap accommodation and some extra money. Moreover, they could get a unique experience and spend their time in a social environment with their peers.

Nowadays youth hostels are a minority in Europe since the demands of the tourism industry has changed drastically and the backpacking idea has flourished around the globe. However, still, there are few youth hostels where you will need to leave its premises for some hours during the day (lockout) or get back until the certain hour (curfew). The aim of hostelling despite changes in the tourism industry is still the same: integrating people from different backgrounds and countries.

Doesn’t matter if you stay in the hostel as a guest or if it’s your working place: you meet new people and some of them might become your good friends, you hear amazing stories and most of all you have fun.

the river hostel team
The River Hostel Team, Valencia

As a hostel worker, it’s amazing and exciting to watch how people from totally different cultures can get on with each other and share their experience…this is the true spirit of the hostel 🙂

And if you are still not convinced of the hostel idea treat it as a new adventure!