Forget cramped rooms and shared bathrooms: hostels in Europe have changed dramatically

By TravelWiseDec 5, 2023 11:32 AMNews
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Hostels in Europe have changed dramatically
Hostels in Europe have changed dramatically. Source: Freepik

Once a niche market for budget travelers, hostels are becoming a popular form of alternative accommodation.

Many hostels now offer not just rows of bunk beds, but private rooms and luxury features such as rooftop pools and spas, Euronews reports.

Currently, some hostels in Europe have 300% more bookings than in 2021.

Forget cramped rooms and shared bathrooms: hostels in Europe have changed dramatically
Forget cramped rooms and shared bathrooms: hostels in Europe have changed dramatically. Source: Freepik

Hostels are evolving to attract more and more travelers

Some hostels have recently transformed to appeal to a broader demographic, such as travelers who would never consider a shared room or those looking for upscale amenities.

The Grand Ferdinand Hotel in Vienna promotes luxury with a heated rooftop pool. Other hostels promote fun for kids. For example, the HI Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel in Pescadero, California, has tide pools and private family rooms.

Hostels are starting to compete with hotels and rental housing

Hostels are generally cheaper than hotels. For example, in notoriously expensive San Francisco, the average daily cost of a hotel room in 2022 was $231 (€211), according to the San Francisco Tourism Association, which predicts an even higher average of $246 (€225) for 2023. However, at the HI San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf Hostel, you can find a bed in a shared room for less than $30 (28 euros) or a private room for less than $100 (90 euros) on some nights. This rate includes Wi-Fi, breakfast, and luggage storage.

Hostels can combine the best of hotels and vacation rentals. Like hotels, hostels often offer a central location and on-site staff. And, going back to Airbnb's goal, hostels tend to provide a more social experience through common areas and group activities such as pub crawls, walking tours, and cooking classes.

The business of hostels is booming

Berlin-based hostel chain a&o Hotels and Hostels has announced record profits for the first half of 2023, with sales up 47% year-on-year.

Hostelling International USA (HI USA) said that since 2022, occupancy has increased by 10%, and since 2021 - by 360%. Some locations have seen even greater growth. In HI NYC, the company's most popular hostel, occupancy exceeded the level of 2019.

Airbnb has also had strong financial performance recently, including an 18% year-over-year increase in revenue in the third quarter of 2023, indicating that travel has picked up again in all destinations.

But for price-sensitive travelers, hostels are becoming an attractive alternative.

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