I am planning a six-week tour of Europe next summer and would like to stay in hostels to save money. Are there hostels that cater to senior travelers?
I'm not aware of any hostel in Europe that caters solely to seniors, but in recent years many hostels have made an effort to appeal to sophisticated budget travelers who seek comfort and privacy in addition to cheap rates. While the majority of hostel guests are still young, more and more mature travelers are joining their ranks.
You'll still find traditional dorm-style accommodations and communal bathrooms, but most hostels also offer private rooms, some with ensuite bathrooms. In addition, many hostels now boast upscale amenities like gyms, saunas, and Internet cafes, plus elegant decor and comfortable furnishings.
A recent feature on HostelWorld.com, an online hostel booking site, highlights this trend, and gives several examples of how "upscale" hostels are catering to mature travelers. For instance, one of the hostels featured, the Globetrotter Inn in London, has its own cinema, gym, and sauna, and offers private double rooms with an ensuite bathroom from $35 per person per night.
HostelWorld.com is the best hostel-booking website I've come across. I recommend using it to find and book other upscale hostels in Europe. When searching for hostels in a specific destination, you can narrow the field using various criteria, such as selecting only hostels that have private rooms.
Each hostel listing on the site includes detailed information about the property, such as amenities, proximity to major attractions, and user ranking. The user ranking, which may be the best tool for figuring out whether a property is right for you, is determined by ratings that past hostel guests submit to the site. Users can rate a property in six different categories, including character, security, location, staff, fun, and cleanliness, and submit more specific comments if they wish. The average of these individual ratings becomes the hostel's overall ranking.
Many of the hostels you'll come across are affiliated with Hostelling International (HI), a network of more than 4,000 hostels worldwide. You need to become a HI member in order to stay at these properties, but seniors ages 55 and up pay a discounted membership rate of $18 per year. You can join online through the Hostelling International USA website.