Hostels

Friends hanging out in hotel (Photo: iStockPhoto/Carmen Martínez)
by , SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on June 8, 2009. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: adventure travel, bed and breakfast, BedandBreakfast.com, BnBFinder.com, camping, destination, family travel, farm, Hilton, hostel, hotel, Kate Hamman and Carl Unger, La Quinta, Las Vegas, New York City, Pennsylvania, road trip, student travel, summer, TripAdvisor, United States, vacation package, Vermont, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts.

When most people hear the term "hostel," they imagine bunk beds crammed together in a cramped little room somewhere in Europe. However, these budget-friendly accommodations have been gaining popularity in the U.S., and offer a whole lot more than sardine-style sleeping.

Staying at a hostel may require a certain amount of socializing—since most are set up dorm-style with a few private rooms interspersed among the common rooms—but it is a great way to meet other travelers, share tales and tips, and learn about different cultures. Plus, most hostels cost significantly less than hotels and come with access to a kitchen (to help cut down on meal costs).

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Hostels, ranging from eco-friendly options such as the Hostel in the Forest to ultra-hip properties like the Jazz Hostels, are located across the country, and can be booked through providers such as Hostelling International USA, Hostels.com, and hostelbookers.com.

If you want to skip sleeping in bunk beds, many hostels also offer private rooms for a bit higher price. These rooms, however, typically cost a great deal less than the average hotel room. For instance, we priced New York City hostels starting at about $14 for a bed in a dorm room in Manhattan and $21 for a private room in the Brooklyn, whereas hotel rooms in the Upper West Side started at about $86 per night.

The main appeal for hostellers—other than the bargain basement prices—is the opportunity to experience something new. Whether it is meeting other travelers or sleeping in a dormitory atmosphere, hostels offer travel adventures in the truest form.

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