Definition of a Hostel

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I am coming more and more across places which call themselves 'hostel' in their name, but which have more the character of a B&B/Guest House/Pension.

Hostels do of course vary over a wide range of standards from a simple country farmhouse with self-catering and 8-bed dorms only, through to facilities with dorms and private rooms with TV and en-suite and all meals available.

The British tourist bureaus have definitions which distinguish between 'Hostel', 'Bunkhouse' and 'Camping Barn' in terms of facilities and awarding stars. But I think we should agree on a definition of 'Hostel' with worldwide application. This forum seems a good place to determine such a definition.

Relevant points:
1) You might say: To be a hostel, there must be dorm beds. I would say: Not quite so. What is essential is: They don't charge more for an individual traveller than for one of a couple. I think indeed this is the crucial definition. So if a facility charges, say, £16 per person for a couple in a double room, and £16 for an individual and chooses to put him in a single room, they are eligible. But if they charge £18 for an individual traveller, they are NOT ELIGIBLE.

2) A common room. Some hostels fail on this -- there's one in Edinburgh that brings your breakfast to your bedroom and has no common area. Some are pretty poor, with a sofa and chair in the reception hall having to suffice. Some have a common room with chairs in a semicircle facing a TV, which is not very congenial. Some have a common room which is so placed that people don't bother to discover it.

3) A self-catering kitchen. I would like to make this an essential criterion, but unfortunately that would leave out many facilities, some of them excellent in other ways. In some countries this is not normal at all. Some have a limited kitchen, eg microwaves and 2 stools to sit at. Some are miserly with equpment -- 2 battered pans, no soup bowls, no dishwashing soap -- and I've seen kitchens with no equipment AT ALL!

It is quite common now for hostels to try to cater for different types of traveller from the backpacker to the family and business visitor, and the YHA does this. New facilities call themselves 'hotel and hostel' in the hope of attracting all types, but they haven't always grasped what a hostel really is. For example, they seem determined that everybody wants privacy.

The definition I use is:

A hostel must provide budget-price accommodation, including 1-night stays, must welcome individual travellers and must not charge them more than a member of a couple or group. A hostel must have a common room where guests can sit and chat, or eat communally.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

This is a good thread because I have a similar issue a few times per week.

When I started the site I started getting requests to be "listed" on hostelmanagement.com so I made a hostel directory. Then a lot of hotels that cater to backpackers started signing up. To be nice I added a few "backpacker hotels" but then it started getting out of control so I stopped.

The hotels started getting aggressive about it -- one even told me they were converting a private room into a dormitory just to get listed on this site Laughing out loud

It's difficult to know where to draw the line with some properties. Right now the only requirement to get listed in the directory is to have dormitory accommodation. I haven't thought about it beyond that. I think a common area is important, even if it is outside... otherwise it might as well just be a capsule hotel:

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Are those BEDS???? Even Dolgoch (no heating or lighting in dorms) feels luxury after that!

Hostels wrote:
This is a good thread because I have a similar issue a few times per week.

The hotels started getting aggressive about it -- one even told me they were converting a private room into a dormitory just to get listed on this site Laughing out loud

Haha: I had almost exactly this. I had an application to be listed on small-hostels.com . There, we also have a criterion of Max 30 beds. This facility in Krakow sent their details, quietly ignoring the bed criterion (their web site said they have 40). I looked and found they only had private rooms. So I told them of our criteria. They replied quickly, saying:

Quote:
We can change our price. Now we have special price - 6, 7 euro for one person.
I hope that You change Your opinion.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

uktrail wrote:
Are those BEDS???? Even Dolgoch (no heating or lighting in dorms) feels luxury after that!

Yeah... Japanese capsule hotels... It's a dorm bed (sort of), but couldn't be described as a hostel.

uktrail wrote:
I looked and found they only had private rooms. So I told them of our criteria. They replied quickly, saying: "We can change our price."

It's funny how desperate people are to get listed on Web sites, even if it's the wrong target audience.

I check every application on the hostel booking sites by searching for availability. If there are no dorm beds on the "available rooms" it's a good clue that they are a hotel.

I think my description is pretty clear, but I still constantly get hotels submitting properties, even temporarily changing their business name to "hostel" on their application:

Quote:
We only list backpacker hostels—we no longer list hotels, B&Bs, studios, apartments or other accommodation.

If your property offers dormitory-style accommodation in any of the rooms, then you may add your property to the directory. If you do not provide shared, dormitory-style accommodation in your property, we will probably not list it on this site.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

We only list hostels on BUG. We define this on our Hostel Manager's FAQ page as follows:

Quote:
BUG only lists and reviews hostels - no hotels, B&Bs, hostals, pensiones, apartments or resorts - just hostels!

To qualify as a hostel you must offer accommodation for independent travellers in shared dormitory-style rooms. We do not list places that cater only to groups or places where you have to book the entire room.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

That is good to hear. Many of the hostel guides have gone into hotels also -- even to the point of promoting hotels over hostels.

The reason I am interested in hostels is that it brings together unusual combinations of people from around the world who would normally never encounter each other.

A hotel isn't the same thing even if it caters to people who are wearing a backpack and carrying a Lonely Planet guidebook.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Hello,

We talking any time, what is a Hostel? In our Network Germany we have rules for members. You can read this in our statute.

I have one problem with guestshouses they have over 150 beds. For me is that not a Hostel.
I looking for a name of houses like this.
Here some example:
P.C. - peoples comb
C.f.P. - comb for peoples
C.f.T. - comb for travelers

Any other ideas ? Puzzled

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

A hostel MUST have:

1. At least 50% dorm beds of its full capacity.
2. Accept walk-ins and individuals.
3. Traveler facilities (Laundry, Kitchen, Internet access, Common areas)
4. Budget oriented price policy
5. Personal atmosphere

If anyone has ideas for more criteria, please feel free to add to the list! Wink

I think groups and long term stays kill the atmosphere, but a lot of big hostels can't afford to avoid them... not offending anyone! Wink

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

I wanted to follow up on this thread because it would be good to have a standard definition of a hostel for this site. I still get people submitting luxury resorts to the hostel directory Puzzled

Interesting that Hostelworld says, "Today, many hostels are not unlike budget hotels where the only significant difference is the price."
(I don't agree with that.)

What do people think of this list (combined from the posts above) -- is there anything else that would exclude a property from being called a "hostel"?

  • Provides dormitory bed accommodation
  • Budget-oriented pricing
  • Accepts individual travelers
  • Common areas and communal facilities

Is it still a "hostel" if it requires 3-night minimum stay or only has 1 dorm room and 3 private rooms? (meaning less than 50% dorm beds)

How would you define a "guesthouse"? Many properties in Japan call themselves "guesthouses" when they would be called "hostels" if they were located elsewhere. Are there any attributes that make a property a "guesthouse" as opposed to a "hostel"?

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

I still call it a hostel if there is some dormitory accommodation, even though if it is one room out of 20 and even if it is a two-bed dorm. The idea is that a single traveller can share a room with someone they are not travelling with.

I don't agree with Hostelworld's definition. The easiest way for Hostelworld to have more hostels on their site is to redefine what a hostel is. If that were the case budget motel chains like Formule 1 would be classed as hostels.

In my opinion a hostel is an accommodation establishment that:

  • provides dormitory accommodation (there should be the option of staying in a shared room)
  • accepts independent travellers (you don't need to be in a group)
  • accepts short term guests (a shared house is not a hostel)

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Hostels wrote:

Is it still a "hostel" if it requires 3-night minimum stay or only has 1 dorm room and 3 private rooms? (meaning less than 50% dorm beds)

Depends... Is the min. 3-nights stands for walk-ins as well? Or only on booking engines? Or maybe just on one booking engine?

I think the 50% is a necessity to filter out hotels, guesthouses, apartments, etc. They are not hostels. They are hotels, guesthouses, apartments, etc with their own descriptions.

It is rather about the capacity than the number of rooms. Which means having a six bedded or bigger dorm and 3 double rooms would not change in this matter.

When I visited Berlin, I've seen a "hostel" which was an actual boat-hotel, besides its forty-odd private rooms they had only one 4 bedded dorm in order to call themselves a hostel... In my perspective that was not a hostel....

Also a hostel is not just a cheap hotel. There are hotels from one star to five. Each star describes what is included.

I think there is a main difference as well about the people who visits us.

For example, those classic backpackers make online reservations only during high season, just to ensure having beds. During off-season they still tend to show up without reservation or reserve for one night and extend it if they like the place.
Budget holiday travelers prefer to have reservation well months in advance, knowing exact dates of their stay.

I guess enforcing online reservations has dropped the rider to the other side of the horse... The best thing about hostelling is the flexibility... Which accepts any kind of travelers.

Hostels wrote:

How would you define a "guesthouse"? Many properties in Japan call themselves "guesthouses" when they would be called "hostels" if they were located elsewhere. Are there any attributes that make a property a "guesthouse" as opposed to a "hostel"?

IMHO, guesthouses are the ones with (either mainly or only) private rooms, although not hotels.
The person in charge is usually the host, instead of a receptionist.
If they serve breakfast or half-board, then we can call them Bed & Breakfast.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

I agree essentially with Tim.

Hostels wrote:

Is it still a "hostel" if it requires 3-night minimum stay or only has 1 dorm room and 3 private rooms? (meaning less than 50% dorm beds)

How would you define a "guesthouse"? Many properties in Japan call themselves "guesthouses" when they would be called "hostels" if they were located elsewhere. Are there any attributes that make a property a "guesthouse" as opposed to a "hostel"?

I think a 'minimum stay' rules it out. It certainly implies that the management are not considering the needs of many travellers, and half-implies that they really prefer to have longer-stay people.

Some good hostels (Francesco's in Ios, Green Lizard in Hvar) have more beds in private rooms than in dorms, but the dorm option is there.

I would define a guesthouse as having only private rooms. Some of them have communal areas, and a very small number have kitchen facilities. Guesthouse = B&B = Pension. The borderline between guest house and hotel is hard to define; reception desk not always versus always staffed? reasonable price versus exorbitant price? Most YMCAs are guest houses rather than hostels.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

uktrail wrote:
I agree essentially with Tim.

I think a 'minimum stay' rules it out. It certainly implies that the management are not considering the needs of many travellers, and half-implies that they really prefer to have longer-stay people.

As running a hostel there are some marketing strategies regarding the minimum stay. You can choose to have a certain period in year (eg. Christmas, Easter, etc.) or special events (like Octoberfest in Munich or the Bulls' Run in Pamplona) where you'd prefer to have longer stay reservations than just one night, in this case it is totally understandable. Couple of years ago we preferred to have min. 2 nights for the off-season weekends, as we tended to have one night reservations on either Friday or Saturday, which regarding the capacity didn't pay out, especially such bad months...although if there were any walk-ins, we still did let them stay with us even for one night.

This above is completely different about if there is a minimum stay rule all the time, as it is more likely a "guesthouse-strategy", where it is preferred to have long term guests only.

uktrail wrote:

Some good hostels (Francesco's in Ios, Green Lizard in Hvar) have more beds in private rooms than in dorms, but the dorm option is there.

You are right... And they are just as good as they are. But how would you filter out those hotels, guesthouses, etc. which are not hostels and although they advertise to have dorms but have only one (which sometimes even never available) just to get listed as a hostel? Puzzled

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

This is just a draft and not "officially online", but it's an attempt to define hostel for the hostel directory.

I think there are some gray areas -- such as properties that sometimes have a minimum stay, or that have lower than a certain percentage of dorm beds. I would like to keep this site's definition as inclusive as possible without being too extreme (like calling a budget hotel a hostel). I can think of a specific hostel in Japan that has 3 private rooms and one 2-bed dorm in a very-communal living situation -- and I would include that property as a "hostel", though on the border. Maybe that specific property could be called a "guesthouse and hostel".

Any thoughts, additions, edits? It's just a draft for something definitive that I can refer people to when they ask questions about this site.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

I think your definition is about right. It's a little indefinite, but perhaps that's a good thing as you can 'bend' the rule one way or the other for borderlines.

I have met a few borderlines in Wales. Several places on principle won't put people in one room if they have not arrived together. So one place charges £16 per person, but will put an individual in a single room and charge him £18. I would not accept this as a hostel, although they use the word hostel in their title. They have a common area, but I don't suppose it is well patronised. They have no kitchen "but we have a dining room and you can bring in and eat a take-away meal there", which is at least better than most guesthouses.

Another one (part of a pub) also doesnt believe that 'strangers' should share rooms, so they will put a single traveller in a room to himself, but they dont charge him any extra. They have a kitchen/diner, spoilt by having a TV. The price is low. I would call this a hostel, but I would not argue if you said it wasn't.

Abergavenny, which had a 'launch' when it set up as a 'YHA hostel' under YHA Enterprise (independent, but in the YHA listing), took pride in showing their bedrooms, very good facilities, some single or double. Dorms? Oh we would put single travellers in their own room, and the charge would be the same. The charge? £24 per person incl breakfast, whether single or multiple. Oh, isn't that a bit expensive? Oh we have offers, at present it's just £15 a night! They take pride in their meals, so I dont think they offer a kitchen. The common areas both have TVs.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

uktrail wrote:
Several places on principle won't put people in one room if they have not arrived together....I would not accept this as a hostel, although they use the word hostel in their title.

I don't think I would call that a hostel either. The description sounds like a large hotel room with bunk beds.

uktrail wrote:
...some single or double. Dorms? Oh we would put single travellers in their own room, and the charge would be the same. The charge? £24 per person

A hostel with no dorms? Sounds like a "backpacker hotel".

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

UPDATE: I met with the property mentioned below and they do have dorms. (Dec 2010)

Just found an example of a property that uses "hostel" in the name but doesn't seem to have any dorms:

Quote:
____ Women's Room, single bed, $30.00 /night
____ Men's Room, single bed, $30.00 /night
____ Small Room, single bed, $55.00 /night
____ Medium Room, double bed, $65.00 /night
____ Large Room, queen bed, $75.00 /night

Interesting...

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

From the price structure and the distinction between 'women's room' and 'men's room', I infer that these rooms are probably dorms, and you get a single bed in a shared room.

But they're not very clear in other ways also. They don't mention any rooms other than bedrooms. Do they have a lounge, a kitchen?

And they mention Berkeley many times. But it took me a lot of looking, at several pages, before I knew for certain that this is the Berkeley near San Francisco. To anyone who hasn't been there, how long would it take to be sure that this hostel is even in the USA?

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

I found more details here:
http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/BerkeleyHostel-Berkeley-21442

Quote:
Berkeley Hostel at Piedmont House has mostly private rooms, and very little dorm space...no planned group activities... and is a youth hostel essentially due to its shared facilities, such as 'bathroom down the hall', and a community kitchen so our guests can survive affordably in Berkeley....

Piedmont House is a 'single room short-term occupancy' guest house...

EVEN THOUGH MANY OF OUR PRIVATE ROOMS ARE LISTED IN THE HOSTEL WORLD SYSTEM AS HAVING 2 BEDS, IN REALITY THESE ARE SIMPLY TWO SLEEPING SPACES IN A DOUBLE BED OR QUEEN BED. In some instances, a second bed or futon can be placed in a private room...

UPDATE: I met with the property and they do now have dorms. (Dec 2010)

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Hmm. On their hostelworld site they do say they have a kitchen and common room and terrace. They don't realise that these are the most important facilities of a HOSTEL. But they play down dorms, as if these are a bad thing. You can't tell the price for dorms on that site, because they have no availability listed.

"Bathroom down the hall" was the norm in B&Bs and guest houses up till 10 years ago. When there is a choice in a Guest House, I would rather save £5 a night per person with 'Bathroom down the hall' than insist on ensuite.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

It sounds to me like they might not have any dorms at all. It's hard to tell though.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Interesting related news item from 30 April:
http://www.easier.com/view/Travel/Hotels/article-176832.html

Hostelworld just began asking for an "urgent" dictionary change in the definition of hostel:

Quote:
Hostelworld.com, the market leader in online hostel reservations, is demanding a radical dictionary change to avoid the ‘down-and-out’ stigma of the word hostel. The firm wants major dictionaries in the UK to scrap current definitions that a hostel is either for homeless and destitute people or just for workers, students, or youths....

Hostelworld.com, which books in the region of 15million hostel beds every year, has written to the Oxford, Collins and Chambers’ dictionaries asking for urgent revisions.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Hostels wrote:
Interesting related news item from 30 April:
http://www.easier.com/view/Travel/Hotels/article-176832.html

Hostelworld just began asking for an "urgent" dictionary change in the definition of hostel:

That is welcome news. It is annoying having hostels associated with homeless shelters and it is just plain detrimental to the whole industry.

A couple of years ago (before there were any hostels in Birmingham) I asked the tourist office in Birmingham about hostels and they gave me a list of homeless shelters. I had a similar response from the tourist information centre in Leeds.

I can just imagine the hassles that this misunderstanding causes for hostel owners that want to get planning permission for their hostel when the authorities at the town hall think that they want to open a homeless shelter.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

I think it's a great idea. The dictionaries need to be updated.

More quotes about it here.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Very interesting discussion -- not something I'd ever put much thought into to be honest.

I'm intrigued though about the need for dormitory accommodation to qualify a place as a hostel. Surely that excludes many places which, if measured say by clientele, or presence of a common area, would qualify as a hostel.

I know that here in SE Asia, dorms are becoming less common than they were in the past -- primarily due to availability of cheap private rooms and/or bungalows -- if a bungalow is costing you US$1 then the dorm is going to need to be close to free (there are free dorms in Cambodia -- the only place I've seen them) to get people going for that option.

I'd hazard a guess that the bulk of travellers who bed down in hostels in Europe, US, Oz etc, stay in the same places in Asia, except they're called guesthouses, and they don't have dorms.

To my mind, the value in a great hostel -- or a great guesthouse -- was the common area as that helped to create the camaraderie between travellers (though dorms can too Tongue )

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

travelfish wrote:
I'm intrigued though about the need for dormitory accommodation to qualify a place as a hostel. Surely that excludes many places which, if measured say by clientele, or presence of a common area, would qualify as a hostel....To my mind, the value in a great hostel -- or a great guesthouse -- was the common area as that helped to create the camaraderie between travellers (though dorms can too Tongue )

Interesting idea about guesthouses. I don't know if I would call a place without dorms a "hostel", but there are many great guesthouses. I stayed at a couple in Japan that were borderline -- like the guesthouse with only one 2-bed dorm. I would call that property "guesthouse and hostel".

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Granted as soon as I mentioned this thread to my better half she scoffed and said "Of course a hostel has to have dorm beds you idiot"...

So I guess Asia has precious few hostels and lots of great guesthouses... I'll leave it at that Wink

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Hostels wrote:
Interesting idea about guesthouses. I don't know if I would call a place without dorms a "hostel", but there are many great guesthouses. I stayed at a couple in Japan that were borderline -- like the guesthouse with only one 2-bed dorm. I would call that property "guesthouse and hostel".

I believe the major concept of a hostel is to put the guests together, let them know about each other, make friendships, sometimes even relationships but finally every hostel guest should have an experience, memory from the hostel as to meet people from all over the world.

That's why I have the opinion of having common room and dormitory as a necessity, as in a private room you are by yourself, it's hard to meet people that way. You can have similar experiences in a guest house as well, but you gonna have it mostly with your host, not with other guests.

Also having just a bar or lounge won't replace a common room, and this common room should be the heart of the hostel, where everyone meet.

I don't think there should be any shame having a guest house, as a guest house suits for different kind of people. It is still more intimate comparing to a hotel, so in terms of intimacy it should be:

Hostel > Guesthouse > Hotel.

Anyway, there should be some definite description which suits for the majority of hostels, if not all of them. And instead of converting a guesthouse to a hostel, maybe we should promote guest houses as well! Wink

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Hostelworld's new petition to define the word hostel:
http://www.hostelworld.com/petition/

This is Hostelworld's definition of a hostel:

Quote:
Hostel: Budget, fun, sociable accommodation for people of all ages

I don't think that it's going to make it past the dictionary editors. Hotels can be sociable, fun and cheap also.

What do you think?

I'm sticking by this definition of hostel because I think that calling budget hotels "hostels" isn't good for genuine hostels...

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

I agree with you about this. I think the HostelWorld "definition" is more of a marketing line. Most dictionaries would consider it to be too ambiguous.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

ifij775 wrote:
I agree with you about this. I think the HostelWorld "definition" is more of a marketing line.

Maybe I'm taking it too literally Smile

The dictionary definitions do need to be changed though. I often get emails asking for assistance with starting homeless shelters and school housing...

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Quote:
This is Hostelworld's definition of a hostel:

Quote:
Hostel: Budget, fun, sociable accommodation for people of all ages

I don't think that it's going to make it past the dictionary editors. Hotels can be sociable, fun and cheap also.

I'm happy with your definition on the wiki, but I disagree totally with your statement above. I can't imagine a hotel being sociable, fun or cheap, at least for a single traveller. I would take it as a definition of hotels that they provide as much privacy as possible. I can only imagine it if you stay there with a (self-contained) group, or if they organise a special activity (which I've never come across). Maybe it could be true in some other countries where the hotel concept may be different.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

uktrail wrote:
I can't imagine a hotel being sociable, fun or cheap, at least for a single traveller.

The Sheraton probably isn't sociable, cheap, or fun for a single traveler, but I was thinking more along the lines of a budget hotel, maybe with a bar and pool. Or a backpacker-oriented budget hotel or guesthouse.

I think if the word "hostel" includes properties without dorms, it's going to make the word non-descriptive and non-hostels are going to try to capitalize on the popularity of hostels.

There are a lot of hotels on Hostelworld that are trying to pass themselves off as hostels. There are even a couple of places in the US that call themselves "hostels" even though they are more like long-term private room rentals. That's why I think the word "hostel" should only refer to dorm rooms, and backpacker hotels should be called backpacker hotels or guesthouses...

In my opinion their definition will just lead to more of this, where Hostelworld lists properties with "beds" going for $250 per night. Smile

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

uktrail wrote:
I can't imagine a hotel being sociable, fun or cheap, at least for a single traveller. I would take it as a definition of hotels that they provide as much privacy as possible.

I agree. I have never stayed at a hotel I would describe as sociable or fun, with the only exception being Las Vegas where you have an entire amusement park in the hotel. However, that is far from typical.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

One more perspective on this definition:

Quote:
Hostel: Budget, fun, sociable accommodation for people of all ages

Not all hostels are fun or sociable or even budget. I've seen dorm beds going for as high as USD $60 per night -- so I think "budget-oriented" is more descriptive. Some hostels still have age limits -- either minimum or, in a few cases, maximum.

IMO, fun, sociable and budget are signs of a good hostel, but not necessarily the defining features...

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Quote:

Hostel: Budget, fun, sociable accommodation for people of all ages

I agree with the marketing part, especially as it's coming from HW, although I agree with the fact about hostels needs branding. IMHO, HW wants to attract older people into hostels which wouldn't work. Older generations are more picky about hostels, even if you have a posh hostel, hostel world is still a long distance from hotel world.

Hostels wrote:
One more perspective on this definition:
Not all hostels are fun or sociable or even budget. I've seen dorm beds going for as high as USD $60 per night -- so I think "budget-oriented" is more descriptive. Some hostels still have age limits -- either minimum or, in a few cases, maximum.

IMO, fun, sociable and budget are signs of a good hostel, but not necessarily the defining features...

I agree with Josh, so it would rather be:

Community oriented accommodation for the budget minded travelers in a young and sociable environment.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

aboriginalhostel wrote:
IMHO, HW wants to attract older people into hostels which wouldn't work. Older generations are more picky about hostels, even if you have a posh hostel, hostel world is still a long distance from hotel world.

I think your right, and I doubt many older people will be jumping on the hostel bandwagon any time soon.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

aboriginalhostel wrote:
"Community oriented accommodation for the budget minded travelers in a young and sociable environment."

Do you think dorms are a requirement? "Community oriented dormitory accommodation..."?

When I'm traveling and looking for a dorm beds and I search for "hostels" and then get presented with properties that don't have dorm beds it's frustrating.

Example: This place appears to have recently added shared rooms, but it was previously running as a "hostel" with only private rooms. Not sure I would call anything without shared accommodation a "hostel". Maybe "guesthouse", "backpacker hotel", or something along those lines?

For me the 3 main differences that make a property a backpackers hostel are:

  1. dorm beds
  2. community-oriented with a common area
  3. budget-oriented

Also to separate from other similar kinds of accommodation, though not necessary for a marketing definition:

  • individual travelers accepted in dorms
  • generally oriented towards short term stays (not yearly rentals, like for student housing)

Good hostels also are:

  • fun
  • sociable

Most hostels are youth-oriented, but I think age is becoming less of a factor. Maybe depends on the hostel & location?

(Related thread: Too Old for Hostels?)

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Hostels wrote:
Do you think dorms are a requirement? "Community oriented dormitory accommodation..."?

When I'm traveling and looking for a dorm beds and I search for "hostels" and then get presented with properties that don't have dorm beds it's frustrating.

You are absolutely right...That puts me off as well and I bet we are not alone with this frustrating feature! Although BEs has the interest to keep them as hostels, otherwise they wouldn't be able to sell as many beds... :S

I agree about including dorms and communal areas, although I'd put it into a second, detailing sentence. IMHO it would be difficult to describe it into one sentence...

So how about this:

"Community oriented short-stay accommodation for the budget minded travelers - both for individuals and groups - in a young and sociable environment. Dormitory rooms and communal area is a must, however it could include hotel-standard private rooms as well."

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Getting there!

However, some hostels are too small or too busy to take groups. I will not take groups as they ruin the single social atmosphere.

Anyway, what is the definition of a group? To me it is 6 or more.

I would also question the word "young". I have a room now where the average age is over 60 - but they are all 'young at heart' and mix in marvelously with the youngsters; and the youngsters benefit from their experience.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Plakian wrote:
Getting there!

However, some hostels are too small or too busy to take groups. I will not take groups as they ruin the single social atmosphere.

Anyway, what is the definition of a group? To me it is 6 or more.

Well according to Wikipedia, a group can be defined as two or more humans that interact with one another... Which means the smallest group is two people. I guess you can accept that! Wink

Plakian wrote:

I would also question the word "young". I have a room now where the average age is over 60 - but they are all 'young at heart' and mix in marvelously with the youngsters; and the youngsters benefit from their experience.

Well, in this description it is the environment which is young, does not refer to people's age. Young hearted people would still fit into this description, IMHO. But I guess to clarify the sentence more, we could also put youthful instead...

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

aboriginalhostel wrote:
Although BEs has the interest to keep them as hostels, otherwise they wouldn't be able to sell as many beds... :S

Even if they don't drop the hotels, they booking engines should at least distinguish them in some way. Maybe promote the words "guesthouse" or "backpacker hotel" so that people know what they're getting when they search?

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Hostels wrote:
Even if they don't drop the hotels, they booking engines should at least distinguish them in some way. Maybe promote the words "guesthouse" or "backpacker hotel" so that people know what they're getting when they search?

HW does make it separate but people are looking for hostels in general. Guest houses, apartments and budget hotels are not as popular, so won't make the sales, so even if you have a guest house it is your interest to at least pretend you are a hostel. That's the main problem. No one is checking the quality/category of the establishment, anyone can sign up.

Also anything from the net still suffers from the chatting dog effect...

The lesson of the story is: Nothing is 100% true you find on the net...

BTW, HW's only response to that, as long as their costumers read the reviews, they can decide whether they want to stay there or not.

Would you agree with that? Is it only me freakin out from this free market BS?

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Hello, my name is Andy of HoboTraveler.com, I am a perpetual traveler, I have been on the road for over 10 years and 79 countries. When I find myself in a room full of travelers, who did not make a reservation, who are cooking food in the kitchen and hanging out. When they checkout, leave for another city, then return to the same lodging, tell a few stories and then take off again to explore, I feel like I am in a Hostel.

I do feel a Hostel has to be the cheapest way to sleep in the area and no Hotel room should be cheaper than one bed.

There are countries like Thailand, most of Central and South America where they have Hostel where dorm beds cost more than single rooms, they are selling the idea that you are getting a good deal, when the truth is you are not, this is not a Hostel.

I tend to believe a Hostel is sometimes best defined by the type of owner, if he or she wants to meet the travelers from all over the planet, give them a cheap bed, then maybe it is a Hostel. However, as the majority of Hostels seem to be preoccupied with bookings, it become hard to feel they are a Hostel in my opinion.

I have dwell ed on the idea of starting a Hostel for years, I am thinking about asking that all people stay for 7 days or they would not be allowed. I want to slow them down whereby we could be friends.

I remember being in a Hostel in Riga, Latvia, when another tourist, not a traveler said,
"I was in 19 countries in 17 days."

When a person is on an itinerary or trip like this, it is hard to feel like I am in a Hostel, and I feel this ways consistently in Europe.

I do feel a Hostel it is 100 percent necessary to have a Kitchen and a common area with travelers hanging around. When it has a bar down below, I instantly call it a Flophouse Hostel.

I have been told I had to leave from many Hostels because of reservations coming in the door, whereby I had refused to reserve a room. Truly does not feel like my dream of a Hostel when this happens, however I do understand, at the end of the day, the majority are only a business, not a lifestyle.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Andy,

I feel obliged to reply. I work for a Flophouse chain (we have bars down below or up above). I must be your equivalent of Satan. Smile

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Andy, I agree with you 80%.

But there are two items on which I totally disagree. A location should not be barred from being a hostel just because other locations in the city are able and willing to let out single rooms in a non-hostel environment at a lower price. I have stayed in a very low-price single room in a guest-house in Thailand (which, as it happens, did have a good social scene). I have also stayed in a hostel in Bangkok (Suk11) which had a great atmosphere, and both its dorm beds and single rooms were pretty cheap by my standard, although it may be that guest-house rooms in the Khao San Road are cheaper.

Seven days minimum? That obviously fits with your particular lifestyle, but not with that of 90% of travellers. We go to hostels as a family or couple, partly to AVOID the constraint of staying at one location for a whole week, as is required in self-catering units. The tradition of hostels in Britain is a hiking or cycling tour for 1-2 weeks, staying at a different hostel most nights. I agree with the drop-in idea, which is desirable for such trips. At Pitlochry, Scotland I met an older man who was cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats. AND BACK.

That said, your opinion of a good hostel agrees very closely with mine, so I would be very interested if you would make a list of the hostels you have stayed at which you most enjoyed, and post it here or send it to me.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Hostelworld has a selection of videos on Travelistic.com.

This video is about the definition of hostel -- though I'm not sure if the first guy has it right when he says that a motel is a "cheaper hotel" - I think of a motel as a hotel for motorists, with free parking outside the rooms.

I think the dormitory aspect isn't emphasized:

[travelistic]10295[/travelistic]

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

I agree, a motel is a hotel for motorists. It's not a motel unless it has one free parking space for each room.

The traditional idea of a motel is a space outside each room, although it don't think it is necessary to have the parking organised this way. For instance most Formule 1 hotels are motels, as there is a free parking space for each room, even though the rooms open onto an indoor hallway and the parking is in a conventional carpark.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Here's a video about capsule hotels in Japan. It's not a hostel, but they are almost dorm beds. I stayed at one hostel in Japan where the dorm beds were arranged in stacked capsules, except low-tech (no TV) and with a curtain instead of a door.

[geobeats]352[/geobeats]

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Hi All,

I'm a complete newbie to this site and so far very impressed with it all. I was reading through this thread with interest, and remembered an article I wrote some time ago, so figured I should jump in and add something.

Below is a press release I researched and wrote a couple of years ago. It was targetted at our local Glasgow newspapers and was printed in The Evening Times (from memory). It is clearly designed at getting traditional hotel users to consider hostels as an alternative and has the usual 'sales pitch' of course.

This is the 'full version' before the editor cut it to pieces... as they do.

Any comments gratefully received.

Cheers,
Steve

What’s In A Name?
Oct 05, 2006
By Steve Mackenzie, Euro Hostels

Hostels… What are they really? How did an ‘s’ get added to hotel and what’s the difference anyway? Hoteliers are starting to take notice of this growing market, and with good reason. Let’s have a look at the origins of hostels as well as the modern hostel and the industry today.

A hostel used to represent a lodging establishment full of large rooms set up for multiple occupancy (dormitories). The old days of university hostels, nurses hostels, homeless hostels and even hostels for freshly released prisoners have left a lingering stigma attached to the word. But who was it that decided to set up ‘youth hostels’ and call them exactly that?

In 1912 in Altena, Germany, Richard Schirrmann created the first permanent youth hostel. It was inside Altena Castle (famous now for an annual hard rock festival) which had been recently reconstructed.

This first hostel was an exponent of the ideology of the German Youth Movement to let poor, young city people get a breath of fresh air in the countryside. The youths were supposed to manage the hostel themselves (as much as possible) such as doing the chores involved for the day-to-day operation of the establishment.

Although somewhat more relaxed nowadays, these ‘old-style’ hostels still exist today and mostly belong to Hostelling International (YHA), a non-profit organisation composed of more than 90 national and international associations representing over 4000 hostels in over 80 countries throughout the world. Rules like curfews, cleaning your own room and ‘lock-outs’ (enforced times that you must be out of the building ‘exercising and seeing the sights’) are still fairly common.

In the 60’s and 70’s, young and not-so-young travellers were returning home after their big OE (overseas experience) and realising that there was a much better way to do things. Largely beginning in Australia and New Zealand, independently run hostels started popping up all over the place. The owners took into account the things that they didn’t like about their own hostelling experience and set about making changes for the better. Relaxed rules, 24-hour receptions, no chores and a choice of room types became commonplace as well as adding bars (licensed or otherwise!) and cafes. But most of these places were not run by professionals and left a lot to be desired in the cleanliness stakes as well as meeting basic health and safety regulations. It was common to use the catch phrase “Run by travellers for travellers”, and it showed. The term ‘Backpackers’, used as an alternative to hostel, was the preferred name to signify that it was not a part of HI, that everyone was welcome, not just youths, and that it was fun.

Independent hostels today have undergone massive changes since these early times and are still improving. Some are huge, multi-storey places offering all the facilities of a hotel and more.

There are two big differences between a hostel and a hotel though. Price and attitude. Hostels are much cheaper and will remain that way to attract their established budget traveller market. There is also an aura of fun and friendliness as well as a genuine desire for staff and guests to meet new people from all over the world. All hostels encourage guests to interact in common areas, share travel stories, give advice and most importantly, have fun… even the new, large, professionally run hostels.

Hostelling is the fastest growing sector of the worldwide accommodation industry with modern hostels being run by true professionals as well as large companies.

Take the Euro Hostel in Glasgow, Scotland for example. It has over 360 beds in all-ensuite rooms, a WiFi enabled modern bar, two large screen TV lounges, two games areas, huge dining room, commercial quality guest kitchen, guest laundry and internet facilities as well as TV’s in all 70 of it’s twin and double rooms. It has rooms of all sizes including dormitories and family rooms as well as disabled rooms. As with the new breed of professional hostels, there’s no need to share a room if you don’t want to, but the option is there. It is 10 storeys high, is spotlessly clean and run by hotel professionals. Even with all this, their staff training involves pure professionalism in the background but a genuinely fun, friendly and casual attitude with all guests. There is no hotel stuffiness here and the staff are actually encouraged to socialise with the guests. This is the attitude difference that is so noticeable in all hostels.

Traditional hotel users are jumping ship in their droves and experiencing the new style of accommodation that modern hostels are offering. Hotel companies are realising this and following suit. For example, Accor Hotels, the global hotel company with brands such as Mercure, Novotel and Sofitel among many others, have dived in headlong with their Base Backpackers brand and are already well established in New Zealand and Australia. They are acquiring properties at a rapid rate and are rumoured to be entering the Asian market very shortly. Don’t be surprised if you see them all over the world within a decade or so. With a company the size of Accor getting into this market, you can bet that other major hotel chains are about to follow suit.

So next time your on-line booking your holiday accommodation, don’t just limit yourself to the traditional hotel web sites. Try doing a search for hostels in your chosen destination (try hostelworld.com or hostelbookers.com) and take the plunge. Not only will you save a bundle, you’ll have a whole lot more fun too. And let’s face it, isn’t that what holidays are all about?

Steve Mackenzie
Euro Hostels Ltd
stevem@euro-hostels.co.uk
euro-hostels.co.uk

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Steve, that's a very nice article which gives a very neat summary of the history of hostelling, and gives a good feel for how hostels differ from hotels.

On YHAs, I think things have progressed farther than you suggest. Chores are virtually non-existent now, except for a very few hostels that are unstaffed and rely on guests clearing up after themselves, such as the Gatliff hostels in the Western Isles. The YHAs have moved on further, but not in the direction of the independents, rather in the direction towards hotels: they have managers who stay behind their desks, and they are moving towards privacy and away from sociability. The independents have inherited the traditional role that the YHAs have left behind, but without the negative aspects of that role (chores etc).

It would make an interesting further discussion to think about the role of management. You focus on professional hotel-style management where the staff interact with the guests, and that is ideal for large hostels such as yours. The YHA have professional management where the staff positively do not interact with guests (although they are friendly and helpful), and the whole thing is unashamedly run as a business. My favourite are the hostels where the staff are indeed travellers interacting with travellers, but there must be some professional management behind them to run it well.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Hi UK,

You are very right about the changes that have occurred to the YHA management practices. Not only at hostel level but at board level as well. I have never worked for the YHA, so don't know the intricacies, but have watched them closely for many years now.

I want to just quickly address board level and hostel level separately actually.

Without offending anyone here, but the YHA used to be run by well intentioned elderly types who had fond memories of rambling the hills of the coutryside in their youth. They maintained the ethos of hostelling but at the cost of running a sustainable, and ongoing, business. Of course the YHA is a charitable body, but they do not have an endless supply of donors to keep them afloat and have needed to think more like a business for many years now. Roger Clarke (CEO England and Wales), before his resignation, did what he had to do to keep them afloat and sold off many properties and created a feeling of 'Swim, don't sink' amongst the board and membership. I can speak first hand about Keith Legge (SYHA CEO) and he has very much streamlined and improved the Scottish YHA's business operations. He too has sold off properties. Of course there is a cost to this as well... the loss of the ethos.

The rapidly expanding growth of independant hostels in the last two decades has also forced the YHA's to rethink their management ways. Youth Hostels were always the cheapest option around, but with competition comes savings for the guest. And the guest, whether a YHA member or not, will be led by the money in their pocket. Last winter you could get beds in Edinburgh city centre for a flat fiver... for example.

Now, at hostel level, these business streamlining practices will always be seen as a negative thing. But, for the sake of future generations, shrewd management of costs and wages etc are vital. These skilled managers (mostly) may not always be the sociable types that we know and want, so therefore, there is sometimes a lack of atmosphere.

It is a fine line between employing a manager that is the 'Face of the hostel', loving the interaction with the guests, and one who is a bit of a bean counter. We need both in many ways, but finding them in pne person is not always easy. Many places are moving towards 'Guest Relations' staff who take on these roles. Obviously not in the smaller YHA type properties, but in the large independants this is the case.

We very much encourage our staff to interact with guests in an informal and very friendly way. They are trained to always use a guest's first name and never use Sir or Madam. Us, in the background, have all come from the desk at some stage and know how important it is. It is also extremely important to have fun with your staff. I love going to work and joking around with the guys, for if they're not having a good time, it's a sure bet that the guest will not either.

I think that mostly the managers in smaller properties are still doing the job because they love it and still doing ok. It's certainly not because of the 'big bucks' now is it?

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

EuroHostels wrote:
Below is a press release I researched and wrote a couple of years ago.

That's a great article. Thanks for posting it.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Ok, it seems I´mbringing some posts back to life. But I really wanted to leave my opinion.
I really like the final definition you placed in the website´s FAQ

It is very important that we should separate ourselves from other accomodation facilities, crossing borders will make it impossible to manage...

I really loved the article that Steve posted, I´ve seen Euro hostels videos, and I do recognize the good work they are doing. But when I think of a Hostel, a 7 floor building does not come accross my mind...and this is something I don´t seem to understand...Should the definiton for hostel
include something about the building itself?
Thanks!
Luciana

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Kapake wrote:
Should the definiton for hostel include something about the building itself?

I don't think that the definition of a hostel should have anything to do with the type of building.

Hostels are unique and individual and come in all shapes and sizes. There are 800-bed hostels in 14-storey buildings, and there are also small hostels that are comprised of a couple of beds in a spare room of someone's apartment and everything in between including castles, boats, yurts, former prisons, schoolhouses and old train carriages.

It is the variety and individuality of hostels that attracts many travellers to this type of accommodation.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Tim wrote:
I don't think that the definition of a hostel should have anything to do with the type of building.

Hostels are unique and individual and come in all shapes and sizes. There are 800-bed hostels in 14-storey buildings, and there are also small hostels that are comprised of a couple of beds in a spare room of someone's apartment and everything in between including castles, boats, yurts, former prisons, schoolhouses and old train carriages.

It is the variety and individuality of hostels that attracts many travellers to this type of accommodation.

Yeah, I read the thread about the weird hostels...but I thought that made them weird, the fact that they are not like other hostels and I picture this house, being it big or small, but cozy, with friendly people inside, owners or employees but people that you can relate and chat. The other type seems so cold...I have to update my ideas I believe! lol
Thank you very much for the answer!

Luciana

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

I just noticed that Hostels.com says "26,924 hostels and other cheap places to stay..."

Is this new or did it always word things like that? (I think it's a good thing.)

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Having been accused of being a "non-hostel" on another thread I thought I'd add a comment on this site's definition.

When my wife & I set up Goofys, we didn't set about creating a Hostel, Guesthouse, or B&B - we wanted to attract people we wouldn't mind sharing our home with, and provide facilities we would appreciate if we were on holiday in Newquay.

Several years down the line we decided we would like to have Goofys assessed by the National Tourism Authority (Quality in Tourism) - we looked into the options, and it turns out we can't be graded as a B&B/Guesthouse because we have "bunk beds for grown-ups" (private dorm rooms), but we do meet the [URL=http://www.qualityintourism.com/content/pdfs/Standards/Hostel Standard INT.pdf]requirements for a hostel[/URL]: -

  • Self-Catering Facilities
  • Easy Seating & Dining Areas
  • Provision for hanging & drying outdoor clothing

I think this site's definition is too strict, and is limited to a backpacker/traveler hostel - there are may situations where "shared dormitory accommodation" would/may be un-desirable, or in-appropriate: -

  • a school trip
  • a family with young children
  • a couple
  • a hen/stag trip
  • travelling companions who don't wish to be exposed to a stranger's bodily functions
  • ...

In the UK, if you provide all the facilities above you can be graded as a Hostel, but if you have "bunk beds for grown-ups" (private or shared dorms) you can't be graded as a Guesthouse/B&B - for me dorms (private or shared), self-catering facilities, and a common room is what makes you a Hostel.

We accept single people (backpackers, travelers, or otherwise), and for those that call on the day (when we have space), we don't charge a single supplement - we just don't expect people to sleep with strangers (one of the most common comments we get when we show a single passer-by into a room with more than one bed is "I won't have to share with anybody will I?").

We don't offer "shared dormitory accommodation" - are we a hostel?

We meet the National Standard for a Hostel, but don't meet the National Standard for a Guesthouse/B&B (and won't while we have private dorms) - we don't offer stranger bodily function bonding in the bedroom - but there's breakfast, and the lounge for that.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Quote:
I think this site's definition is too strict, and is limited to a backpacker/traveler hostel - there are may situations where "shared dormitory accommodation" would/may be un-desirable, or in-appropriate: -

ahh, but you can still have 'shared dormitory accommodation' that is able to be booked privately - very few hostels allow kids in shared rooms in my experience. but to be honest, not allowing shared dorms (ie. the rooms must be booked as a whole) means you're running a hotel with slightly different facilities.

it may sound strict, but if you dont have shared rooms, i dont believe you're a hostel. you're a hotel, maybe a great one, maybe the 'missing link' between a hotel and hostel. but if its only private rooms (whether they have bunks or not), i dont believe the term 'hostel' is appropriate.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Goofys wrote:
In the UK, if you provide all the facilities above you can be graded as a Hostel, but if you have "bunk beds for grown-ups" (private or shared dorms) you can't be graded as a Guesthouse/B&B - for me dorms (private or shared), self-catering facilities, and a common room is what makes you a Hostel.

That's interesting -- I didn't know that. It's something to consider for the definition.

From a solo backpacker's (not "flashpacker") perspective, when they are looking for a "hostel" they're typically looking for a shared dormitory.

If were travelling alone and I showed up at a "hostel" that required me to book the entire dorm room in order to stay there, I don't think I would call it a hostel. Maybe a guesthouse with bunk beds?

It isn't the bunk beds that defines the hostel -- it's the shared accommodation. Many hostel dorms don't have bunk beds.

The only thing that separates a hostel room like this from an "X-bed private room" is that it's shared accommodation:

Goofys wrote:

I think this site's definition is too strict, and is limited to a backpacker/traveler hostel - there are may situations where "shared dormitory accommodation" would/may be un-desirable, or in-appropriate: -

  • a school trip
  • a family with young children
  • a couple
  • a hen/stag trip
  • travelling companions who don't wish to be exposed to a stranger's bodily functions
  • ...

In those situations, people have the option to book an entire dorm room at a hostel, or a private room somewhere. I think that shared accommodation is what separates "hostels" from other types of similar accommodation.

Goofys wrote:
We accept single people (backpackers, travelers, or otherwise), and for those that call on the day (when we have space), we don't charge a single supplement - we just don't expect people to sleep with strangers (one of the most common comments we get when we show a single passer-by into a room with more than one bed is "I won't have to share with anybody will I?").

I think that people who don't want to sleep in a room with strangers generally aren't looking for a "hostel" -- maybe a guesthouse, B&B, or even "backpackers hotel". To me, hostels are shared accommodation (even though many of them also provide private rooms).

Goofys wrote:
We don't offer "shared dormitory accommodation" - are we a hostel?

We meet the National Standard for a Hostel, but don't meet the National Standard for a Guesthouse/B&B (and won't while we have private dorms) - we don't offer stranger bodily function bonding in the bedroom - but there's breakfast, and the lounge for that.

I don't know about standards in the UK for hostels, but I'll read the document that you linked to.

I'm interested to hear what other people think...

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

For me, the most important reason for staying in a hostel when travelling solo is that I don't have to pay more than everyone else. For that privilege, I am willing to share a room. I don't stay in guest houses, except a few rare ones, because I have to pay far more than if I was travelling with others.

I have looked at your website, and your facilities seem like those of a good guesthouse with the great benefit of a self-catering kitchen and perhaps a social area. I'd certainly like to see more places like this, as one of the snags of most guest houses is that you're stuck in your room lonely, and you have to go out for evening meals. I don't see that having some beds in bunk format (ie up ladders) in itself makes you a hostel.

I looked at your prices, and they are guest-house range rather than hostel range (although perhaps a bit lower than guest-house range for Newquay).
But you give a range of prices for any given season and day -- what's the reason for the range? For the current season midweek for example, if I came travelling solo, what price would I pay? And if I came with my wife, what price would we each pay?

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Hostels wrote:
From a solo backpacker's (not "flashpacker") perspective, when they are looking for a "hostel" they're typically looking for a shared dormitory.

That's it though - it's not only backpackers that use hostels - I've stayed in hostels as a family, I've stayed in hostels as a couple, I've stayed in hostels on school trips - you're defining what a Hostel is by one type of user, one market.

Hostels wrote:
It isn't the bunk beds that defines the hostel -- it's the shared accommodation. Many hostel dorms don't have bunk beds.

The only thing that separates a hostel room like this from an "X-bed private room" is that it's shared accommodation:

In the UK, due the the strong association with the YHA, the term Hostel can have something of a stigma attached to it (think sandals, cardigans, beards, some remote part of the Dales) - not as cool as it's backpacker/surf lodge cousins. It was this article in the Guardian that made us more comfortable with the realisation that Goofys was a Hostel.

What still distinguishes the hostel from its bigger, more expensive brothers is that each retains some form of communal living; shared social spaces that bring travellers together, even if it's just a bar and kitchen.

Take away the dorm rooms, and you take away some of that communal living - but you also take away some of the negative aspects too - safety, security, privacy.

I stayed in a Hostel in Ireland once (meets your definition) on a rainy night in March - the girl behind the desk stuck around just long enough to check us in (barely made eye contact) - we were then left rattling around an empty building for the night - the place felt deserted. Stayed in a Hostel South Africa that was buzzing - can't remember if it had dorms, but it felt like a Hostel.

For me it's about the experience - Goofys is a Hostel because it feels like a Hostel, not because of the sleeping arrangements - and if our guests want to treat the place like a B&B, we're cool with that too.

If you take your definition to it's logical conclusion, a "true" Hostel only has dorm rooms and anything else is a compromise.

For me a Backpackers (all dorms) is at one end of the spectrum, and Goofys is at the other - you still get the social experience, just with a bit more comfort.

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uktrail wrote:
I don't see that having some beds in bunk format (ie up ladders) in itself makes you a hostel.

According to the National Standard, having self-catering facilities and a communal area makes you eligible - and having bunk beds means you'e not a Hotel, Guesthouse or B&B - that only really leaves Hostel.

uktrail wrote:
But you give a range of prices for any given season and day -- what's the reason for the range?

We only have 7 rooms and a huge mortgage, so we try to encourage long stays, and maximise occupancy (also there's more of a buzz about the place when we're full)...

Supply & Demand - the higher the demand, the higher the price (weekends are more popular than midweek, summer is more popular than winter).

Ecconomics - the more people that share a room, and the longer they stay, the more it reduces our overheads, so the lower the rate.

uktrail wrote:
For the current season midweek for example, if I came travelling solo, what price would I pay? And if I came with my wife, what price would we each pay?

For most of the year we operate a 2-night minimum stay (3/4 nights in summer), with a supplement for under-occupancy on advanced bookings. But if you came knocking on our door (and we still had space), we'd take one person for one night at the per person double room rate (i.e. no supplements).

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Goofys wrote:
In the UK, due the the strong association with the YHA, the term Hostel can have something of a stigma attached to it (think sandals, cardigans, beards, some remote part of the Dales) - not as cool as it's backpacker/surf lodge cousins. It was this article in the Guardian that made us more comfortable with the realisation that Goofys was a Hostel.

If you haven't read it yet, see my interview on Tux in Backpack about the recent articles on boutique hostels:

More comments about the recent boutique hostel articles here:

Goofys wrote:
Take away the dorm rooms, and you take away some of that communal living - but you also take away some of the negative aspects too - safety, security, privacy.

Many people see the shared rooms as an advantage. There are hostels with over 90% approval rating for security that don't have lockers in the dorms. I've never had anything stolen out of a shared dorm. I feel safer with my laptop in a locker in a shared dorm than to leave it unlocked in a hotel room.

There are bad hostels, but there are also bad hotels. Shared rooms aren't necessarily a negative thing. Bad hostels have problems with safety, security, and privacy (just like in bad hotels), but good hostels can address those things.

Goofys wrote:
I stayed in a Hostel in Ireland once (meets your definition) on a rainy night in March - the girl behind the desk stuck around just long enough to check us in (barely made eye contact) - we were then left rattling around an empty building for the night - the place felt deserted. Stayed in a Hostel South Africa that was buzzing - can't remember if it had dorms, but it felt like a Hostel.

I don't think the word "hostel" refers to how fun or well-run a place is -- it just refers to a type of accommodation.

Goofys wrote:
For me it's about the experience - Goofys is a Hostel because it feels like a Hostel, not because of the sleeping arrangements - and if our guests want to treat the place like a B&B, we're cool with that too.

I think the line between hotels/guesthouses and hostels has to be defined somewhere. Otherwise many hotels are going to jump on the trend of "hostels" and start marketing themselves as hostels. I think that would be bad for hostels.

Here is how Hostels.com is defining hostels:

[INDENT]"Today, many hostels are not unlike budget hotels where the only significant difference is the price." [source][/INDENT]

A hostel is now just a budget hotel that is a little bit cheaper than a budget hotel? Puzzled

I see the line that separates hostels as being:

  • shared accommodation for individual travelers
  • budget-oriented
  • allows short stays
  • generally has common areas

If you take away the shared accommodation from the list above, there's no difference between a hotel or guesthouse and a hostel. A "sociable hotel" isn't a hostel.

Goofys wrote:
If you take your definition to it's logical conclusion, a "true" Hostel only has dorm rooms and anything else is a compromise.

I think there are many kinds of accommodation:

  • hotels (many types)
  • guesthouses
  • backpacker hotels (caters to backpackers, but no shared dorms)
  • hostels (backpackers, flashpackers, etc.)
  • etc.

I still think I would only place properties with shared dorms in the "hostel" category. You have an interesting point about not being allowed to call yourself a B&B or guesthouse because you have "bunk beds for grownups". It seems like the regulations should distinguish between shared dorms and private rooms with bunk beds, because bunk beds aren't a defining characteristic of hostels. I've been to many hostels that have shared accommodation, but not bunk beds.

Goofys wrote:
For me a Backpackers (all dorms) is at one end of the spectrum, and Goofys is at the other - you still get the social experience, just with a bit more comfort.

A property doesn't have to be a "hostel" to be sociable. There are places that cater to backpackers that aren't hostels. One example is Far Out Camping in Greece. The atmosphere is a lot like a hostel in many ways, but I wouldn't call it a hostel.

Just stating my perspective here, but open to new ideas. I'll include a link to this thread in the next newsletter and maybe more people will have thoughts on it Smile

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Goofys wrote:
According to the National Standard, having self-catering facilities and a communal area makes you eligible - and having bunk beds means you'e not a Hotel, Guesthouse or B&B - that only really leaves Hostel.

Whatever the definition, it looks like a great place Smile
The Tripadvisor ratings are excellent (15 top ratings out of 17).

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

I think perceptions of a Hostel must be different depending which side of the Atlantic you are on (that'll be the YHA again).

The standards here in the UK are based on some form of research that says (in general) that people booking a B&B/Guesthouse or Hotel in the UK don't expect to sleep in bunk beds, that if they book a Hotel, they expect to get a Hotel and not a Guesthouse/B&B (or any other type of accommodation for that matter), and that if they book a Hostel, they expect budget, self-catering and somewhere to sit and eat or relax, and that they might find dorms or rooms with bunk beds.

Your definition seems to be centred around the expectations of travellers/backpackers - Goofys, the expectations of a UK domestic market.

I don't think either is wrong, just based on different perceptions/expectations.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Goofys wrote:
According to the National Standard, having self-catering facilities and a communal area makes you eligible - and having bunk beds means you'e not a Hotel, Guesthouse or B&B - that only really leaves Hostel.

We only have 7 rooms and a huge mortgage, so we try to encourage long stays, and maximise occupancy (also there's more of a buzz about the place when we're full)...

Ecconomics - the more people that share a room, and the longer they stay, the more it reduces our overheads, so the lower the rate.

For most of the year we operate a 2-night minimum stay (3/4 nights in summer),

All guesthouses have these concerns. If they
market only complete rooms, as guesthouses do, they will therefore charge more per person for singles, and will discourage singles (by means of price) if they think that a couple or family will come along. I, as a solo traveller, see the price as being too high. I avoid staying there because of this.

You adopt this policy, but unlike most guest houses you have self-catering and common area. So when I am travelling with my wife, I would be very interested in your accommodation, seeing it as guest-house plus very useful extras. But as a solo traveller, I don't want to see this place called a hostel.

But imagine you were to change your policy to allow sharing of at least some rooms. You could fill those rooms with single travellers and make just as much income. If you chose this route, you will probably choose to have bunk beds, as they are most efficient for the purpose. I, as a solo traveller, see this place that charges me the same as others, and has the communal facilities, and I am willing to share, so I stay there. THAT is a hostel. (More precisely, a hostel and guest-house combined.)

That is why hostels tend to have bunk beds, but bunk beds are not part of the definition of a hostel, any more than their existence should stop a place being called a guesthouse.

I think the rule you quote is rather stupid, the result of managers who have never stayed in hostels who sit in offices and DECIDE what is a hostel and what isn't on the basis of majority characteristics. It's not easy to make sharp definitions: look at the amount of correspondence there has been on this forum on the subject. Some authorities insist that a hostel MUST have a TV. Many of us who have stayed in hostels know that the most highly-regarded hostels do NOT have a TV, at least in their main common area.

(How many bunk beds do you have? Is it just one or two that are above double beds or in family rooms? I suspect these could be quite common in motels and some hotels.)

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Quote:
The Tux in Backpack: Do you think hostels are for backpackers only or for other kind of travellers too?

HostelManagement.com (Josh): There are different types of hostels for different types of guests. A hostel might cater to traditional backpackers, school groups, working travelers, flashpackers, older travelers, partiers, conference attendees, long-stay guests, outdoorsy types, or other kinds of travelers. A hostel like Hostelling International’s “J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Hostel” in Chicago attracts a vastly different crowd than a place like the “Rising Cock Hostel” in Portugal.

I think it’s a good thing to have many kinds of people using hostels. Different hostels can fill different niches.

What this site defines (in my opinion) is a Backpackers/Travellers Hostel - catering for the needs of a solo traveller.

School Groups, Families & Couples are by definition not solo travellers - if I cater to these niches, I probably have no need for a shared dorm - but to meet this site's definition of a Hostel I would have to have one, even if that room were better utilised as a social space - say a games room.

In their FAQ, Hostelling International describes a Youth Hostel (a Hostel catering predominately for the youth market) as: -

Quote:
What is a Youth Hostel? A Youth Hostel is good quality budget accommodation that offers a comfortable night's sleep in friendly surroundings at an affordable price. Youth Hostels provide the perfect way to get to know a country at low cost and meet with many other people who share your attitude towards travelling.

They go on to say: -

Quote:
Will I have to sleep in a big dormitory? Big dormitories are becoming increasingly rare in the Hostelling International network. Many hostels now offer single, twin and four-bedded rooms - please check when booking.

To me, the HI definition is inclusive, and this site's definition is exclusive

Quote:
(How many bunk beds do you have? Is it just one or two that are above double beds or in family rooms? I suspect these could be quite common in motels and some hotels.)

The majority of our rooms are flexible so they can be configured to suit families or couples, or split into singles to suit groups of friends travelling together.

Quote:
But imagine you were to change your policy to allow sharing of at least some rooms. You could fill those rooms with single travellers and make just as much income.

We're actually looking at doing the opposite - reducing beds, and increasing the amount of shared social space we have - our guests tend to want to spend time with each other out of their rooms - they get the best of both worlds, a good night's sleep and social interaction.

I find it quite odd that Hostellers/Hosteliers who are renowned for being so open and welcoming, would set about creating a definition that is so closed and exclusive. Maybe I have misunderstood what it means to be a Hostel - I like my interpretation.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Inclusive v Exclusive

Quote:
What this site defines (in my opinion) is a Backpackers/Travellers Hostel - catering for the needs of a solo traveller.

School Groups, Families & Couples are by definition not solo travellers - if I cater to these niches, I probably have no need for a shared dorm - but to meet this site's definition of a Hostel I would have to have one, even if that room were better utilised as a social space - say a games room.

Traditional hostels (old YHA) catered directly for the individual or small group. Families and couples had to fit in to the format (eg couples had to sleep in separate dorms). You could call this semi-exclusive.

Your concept in the second para above, with no shared dorm, is for a place that caters directly for groups, families and couples. Solo travellers have to fit in to that format, by having to pay a lot more. I would call that also semi-exclusive.

Many establishments now are fully inclusive of all these mentioned categories, eg modern YHAs.

This site favours a definition of Hostels as places that definitely include the solo traveller, but may or may not directly include families and couples.

I support that definition for the following reason: There are many, many many establishments that cater directly for families etc (most hotels, guest houses, motels, b&bs etc.). There are relatively few that cater directly for individual travellers. That is why I personally want to reserve the term Hostel for this relatively few.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Goofys wrote:
What this site defines (in my opinion) is a Backpackers/Travellers Hostel - catering for the needs of a solo traveller.

It's not that a hostel has to cater only to solo travelers, but to fit in the definition it can't be setup in a way that does not cater to solo travelers (by not offering shared dorm accommodation).

Goofys wrote:
School Groups, Families & Couples are by definition not solo travellers - if I cater to these niches, I probably have no need for a shared dorm - but to meet this site's definition of a Hostel I would have to have one, even if that room were better utilised as a social space - say a games room.

A property doesn't need to be a hostel to cater to those niches or to have social spaces.

Goofys wrote:
In their FAQ, Hostelling International describes a Youth Hostel (a Hostel catering predominately for the youth market) as:...

With respect to HI, which runs many great hostels and does a lot to promote hostelling, the term "Youth hostel" is outdated and should be dropped from use. They have already changed from the "International Youth Hostel Federation" (IYHF) to "Hostelling International", so why use the word "youth"?

HI calls backpackers "dodgy":
[INDENT]"Unlike bland motels, impersonal hotels or dodgy backpackers, HI Youth Hostels are fun, lively meeting places, full of like-minded people."[/INDENT]
Yet at the same time, many HI hostels are "backpackers":
http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Ahihostels.com+backpackers&num=100

I don't think their definitions are as well-defined as they could be.

Goofys wrote:
To me, the HI definition is inclusive, and this site's definition is exclusive

I don't think it's exclusive. The way I see this site's definition is that it defines hostels in a way that protects the hostel industry from being flooded by hotels that call themselves hostels. See my interview on Tux on Backpack (mentioned above) for the background on hotels being marketed as hostels.

Goofys wrote:
I find it quite odd that Hostellers/Hosteliers who are renowned for being so open and welcoming, would set about creating a definition that is so closed and exclusive. Maybe I have misunderstood what it means to be a Hostel - I like my interpretation.

This website is open to anyone who is interested in the hostel industry, so I don't think it's exclusive. Not everyone who posts here regularly runs a "hostel" that fits into the site's definition.

The line between hostels and hotels has to be placed somewhere, or I think it will be bad for hostels in the long run as hotels begin to market themselves as hostels. The word "hostel" would become meaningless and booking engines would increase their efforts to get traffic for "hostel" keywords in Google and then upsell to hotels for a larger commission.

This site's definition of hostel is open to change, but I still would expect a "hostel" to offer me a shared dorm if I showed up (whether I were alone or with others). I don't know how it is in the UK with those regulations you mentioned. To me "bunk beds" aren't a defining characteristic of a hostel. I want to do a tour of the UK sometime and see what it's like there.

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Hostels wrote:
The line between hostels and hotels has to be placed somewhere, or I think it will be bad for hostels in the long run as hotels begin to market themselves as hostels. The word "hostel" would become meaningless and booking engines would increase their efforts to get traffic for "hostel" keywords in Google and then upsell to hotels for a larger commission.

People are able to make up their own minds - if someone is looking for a USD $10 a night dorm room, they're not going to book a USD $500 a night 5* Hotel by accident.

Hostels wrote:
the term "Youth hostel" is outdated and should be dropped from use

Perhaps your definition is becoming dated, and doesn't take into account changing perceptions towards Hostels. To me, being a Hostel isn't about the sleeping arrangements - it's all the other stuff, it's the ethos that makes a Hostel what it is. There's still a place for "old school" Backpackers, but there's a place for Boutique Hostels as well - your definition doesn't take account of the progression & development of Hostels to meet changing expectations.

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Quote:
People are able to make up their own minds - if someone is looking for a USD $10 a night dorm room, they're not going to book a USD $500 a night 5* Hotel by accident.

true, but you're lookign at extremes. what about someone looking for a €25 euro dorm bed but is bombarded with €40 hotel rooms? what about people who book a 'hostel' but end up in a hotel?

Quote:
Perhaps your definition is becoming dated, and doesn't take into account changing perceptions towards Hostels. To me, being a Hostel isn't about the sleeping arrangements - it's all the other stuff, it's the ethos that makes a Hostel what it is. There's still a place for "old school" Backpackers, but there's a place for Boutique Hostels as well - your definition doesn't take account of the progression & development of Hostels to meet changing expectations.

nobody's doubting that the traditional 'hostel' market is changing but the nature of a definition is that its specific. whilst it eventually worked in 'the castle' (great movie), 'its the vibe' doesnt really make for a good definition. sure, it may fit your definition of a hostel but what about person B's? if you're going to open the definition up to anywhere that embraces a hostel 'ethos' you completely defeat the purpose of defining the word in the first place; either because anyone can define the 'ethos' as they choose or because you end up using the term in the defition: 'a hostel is anywhere that defines themselves as a hostel' isnt a definition, its circular reasoning.

hostel, hotels, boutique hostels, campsites all exist in the same market and may appeal to the same people. equally, each property may appeal to multiple markets - but that doesnt change what a hostel is. and to me, and it would appear most here, an absolutely integral part of a hostel is sharing your accommodation. a hostel that doesnt offer this is a hotel or guesthouse - maybe a great hotel/guesthouse, maybe one aimed at young people - whatever market its going after.

i should add, please dont feel offended or defensive about our definition. nobody is saying taht if you dont have shared dorms you're somehow a lesser facility, or that we dont have loads in common. its just that just as cats and dogs both have 4 legs, fur and sharp teeth; theyre still fundamentally different in certain areas, and thats what defines them. its probably a cliche, but its what separates us (hostels) from other accommodation providers is what defines us.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Goofys wrote:
People are able to make up their own minds - if someone is looking for a USD $10 a night dorm room, they're not going to book a USD $500 a night 5* Hotel by accident.

What happens is that hostel booking engines and affiliates target the people who are looking for hostels and then upsell hotels, with not enough distinction between the types of properties.

If not "hostels", what word should be used for a properties that offer shared accommodation? There are already words for properties that offer private accommodation (hotel, guesthouse, backpacker hotel, B&B, etc.).

Goofys wrote:
Perhaps your definition is becoming dated, and doesn't take into account changing perceptions towards Hostels. To me, being a Hostel isn't about the sleeping arrangements - it's all the other stuff, it's the ethos that makes a Hostel what it is. There's still a place for "old school" Backpackers, but there's a place for Boutique Hostels as well - your definition doesn't take account of the progression & development of Hostels to meet changing expectations.

I see hostels as a type of accommodation that has certain sleeping arrangements (as well as other factors mentioned in the definition). If the dorms are removed it's not the same.

Hostels are changing and there are boutique hostels, such as Oops Paris, Czech Inn, and Lisbon Lounge -- but they all offer dorms for single travelers.

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gordo wrote:
true, but you're lookign at extremes. what about someone looking for a €25 euro dorm bed but is bombarded with €40 hotel rooms? what about people who book a 'hostel' but end up in a hotel?

Here's an example:

Google search for hostels in Grenoble:

Click the first result and get a header that says "Cheap Hostels in Grenoble, France, Europe... Hostelworld.com brings you online bookings at the best selection of hostels in Grenoble.". There are three properties listed:

The cheapest property says "Beds From €27.50", but when I go to book it for one person it says €55.00 per night. There is no real €27.50 price and there are no hostels in Grenoble listed there.

Despite all of that there is a hostel in Grenoble at only 18.30 EUR per night for one person for the same date, but what happened is all the sites in the top 10 of Google are optimized for the keywords "Grenoble hostels", but only 2 of the results actually offer Grenoble hostels (HIhostels.com and Bug.co.uk).

There's even a property out there calling itself a "backpackers" when all it offers is private apartments for only "14 euro per night" -- when you book 8 people. So the backpacker thinks they're getting a 14 euro "backpackers", but they're really looking at a 225 euro per night apartment.

This is an issues that I think hostels are facing, and the I think the definition is trying to maintain that hostels are distinct from hotels or other types of accommodation.

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Quote:
to me, and it would appear most here

the majority of 14 people

Quote:
an absolutely integral part of a hostel is sharing your accommodation

I still think the Guardian came pretty close: -

[INDENT]What still distinguishes the hostel from its bigger, more expensive brothers is that each retains some form of communal living; shared social spaces that bring travellers together, even if it's just a bar and kitchen.[/INDENT]

Granted it is more open, and harder to enforce, but I think it captures the ethos of a Hostel.

Quote:
If not "hostels", what word should be used for a properties that offer shared accommodation?

I think you have already answered your own question: -

Quote:
Definition of Hostel

A hostel or backpackers hostel is a budget-oriented dormitory accommodation...

I don't think you should shorten "Backpackers Hostel" to Hostel (that's what I feel your definition describes) - I think you should shorten "Backpackers Hostel" to Backpackers.

Perhaps there could be a convention where, if you are offering Hostel ethos accommodation to a niche market you identify the niche: -

Surfers' Hostel
18-30's Hostel
Couples Hostel
Family Hostel
Group Hostel
Boutique Hostel
Walkers Hostel
XYZ Hostel

and if you are offering Hostel ethos accommodation with a general mix of shared dorms, and private rooms - then the generic term Hostel is appropriate.

Quote:
Google search for hostels in Grenoble:

... and if you search for grenoble hostel, HI - Hostel Grenoble - Echirolles Youth Hostel comes top...

... search for newquay hostel/s and you get a pretty good mix,
and london hostel/s again a pretty good mix,
cardiff hostel/s, birmingham hostel/s, glasgow hostel/s - a pretty good mix.

Hostels advertise on B&B/Guesthouse websites, B&B/Guesthouses advertise on Hotel websites, Hotels advertise on Hostel websites - disseminating a restrictive definition of a Hostel won't change that. If a website doesn't provide the information people are looking for, they'll just hit the back button, and move on to the next one.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Quote:
the majority of 14 people

thats the problem with this forum... to many lurkers, not enough posters.

Quote:
I still think the Guardian came pretty close: -

What still distinguishes the hostel from its bigger, more expensive brothers is that each retains some form of communal living; shared social spaces that bring travellers together, even if it's just a bar and kitchen.


hotels have bars - theyre communal. camping grounds have shared bathrooms and kitchens; as do many guesthouses.

circus opened up a hotel in berlin; it retains a lot of the circus's vibe and certianly has a communal feel to it. but its definately a hotel because it only has private rooms. they call it a hotel, presumably to differentiate from their hostel.

Quote:

Hostels advertise on B&B/Guesthouse websites, B&B/Guesthouses advertise on Hotel websites, Hotels advertise on Hostel websites - disseminating a restrictive definition of a Hostel won't change that.

some hostels do that yes, but the main pattern is the other way. and no, our definition isnt likely to change that. but if your guesthouse should be considered a hostel because it has a communal feel to it, whats to stop a hotel thats infamous more parties also declaring itself a hostel because it brings people together? or a campground with a central kitchen and games room from also declaring itself a hostel?

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Goofys wrote:
I still think the Guardian came pretty close: -

[INDENT]What still distinguishes the hostel from its bigger, more expensive brothers is that each retains some form of communal living; shared social spaces that bring travellers together, even if it's just a bar and kitchen.[/INDENT]

Granted it is more open, and harder to enforce, but I think it captures the ethos of a Hostel.

I think that definition is missing something and is too ambiguous (which I've mentioned in the other forum threads linked-to above).

Could Far Out Camping (mentioned above) be considered a hostel? There is no difference in feel from Far Out Camping from a good party hostel, except there are no dorms, or even hotel rooms.

Goofys wrote:
Quote:
If not "hostels", what word should be used for a properties that offer shared accommodation?

I think you have already answered your own question: -

I'm not sure I understand what you mean. If "hostel" doesn't refer to a property that offers shared accommodation, what would you call a property that offers only shared accommodation? You could call it a "hostel", but if hotels are called hostels too, there is no word left in the English language to distinguish what this kind of accommodation is.

Having to say "hostel with shared accommodation" is like having to say "motel with parking spaces" -- it's too long to be the name of an accommodation type Smile

Goofys wrote:
I don't think you should shorten "Backpackers Hostel" to Hostel (that's what I feel your definition describes) - I think you should shorten "Backpackers Hostel" to Backpackers.

I think "backpackers" (in accommodation) is just short for "backpackers hostel". There are "backpackers hotels" out there too -- usually guesthouses of some type that cater to backpackers.

Goofys wrote:
Perhaps there could be a convention where, if you are offering Hostel ethos accommodation to a niche market you identify the niche: -

Surfers' Hostel
18-30's Hostel
Couples Hostel
Family Hostel
Group Hostel
Boutique Hostel
Walkers Hostel
XYZ Hostel

That already exists to some extent, but hostels should probably do it more.

Goofys wrote:
... and if you search for grenoble hostel, HI - Hostel Grenoble - Echirolles Youth Hostel comes top...

The results are the same for "grenoble hostel" as for "grenoble hostels" -- 8 of the top 10 results in Google don't list any hostels.

Goofys wrote:
Hostels advertise on B&B/Guesthouse websites, B&B/Guesthouses advertise on Hotel websites, Hotels advertise on Hostel websites - disseminating a restrictive definition of a Hostel won't change that.

I don't think the HostelManagement.com definition is restrictive, but I think that the mass selling of hotels as "hostels" would be bad for hostels.

It sounds like you're in an unusual position because of the regulations there, and that you have bunk beds. I'm still thinking about that and will read the PDF you linked to when I am able to.

I'll send a note out about this thread in the next newsletter and encourage more people to post their thoughts on the definition of hostel.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

I was reading the definition of hostel page and made a couple of small changes in wording.

I moved the word "backpackers hostel" into "synonyms & related" based on the discussion above, and added the word "groups" since many hostels don't only accept individual travelers. I mentioned private rooms because most hostels don't only have dorms. I'll wait for more comments on this thread before make other changes. I just sent out a link to about 175 people asking for comments, and will also link to this thread in the upcoming newsletter.

Quote:
A hostel is a budget-oriented dormitory accommodation that accepts individual travelers (typically backpackers) or groups for short-term stays, and that provides common areas and communal facilities.

To be considered a hostel, the property must provide short-term, shared dormitory accommodation for individual travelers, though many hostels also provide private rooms.

I left "typically backpackers" in there to distinguish from places like YMCA/YWCA in the USA.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

I think your definition...

Quote:
A hostel is a budget-oriented dormitory accommodation that accepts individual travelers (typically backpackers) or groups for short-term stays, and that provides common areas and communal facilities.

... meets my experience, perception & expectations of a Hostel: -

  • Budget
  • Dorms (a room designed to sleep 3 or more adults)
  • Common areas
  • Communal facilities

... but I'm still not comfortable with this part (although I appreciate your reasoning)...

Quote:
To be considered a hostel, the property must provide short-term, shared dormitory accommodation for individual travelers, though many hostels also provide private rooms.

... take a Hostel, and remove some of the elements above, and it's probably not a Hostel any more...

... take a budget Guesthouse with common areas and communal facilities - add in dorms (even if they're private), and it probably won't meet peoples expectations of a Guesthouse any more (Quality in Tourism certainly think so in the case of bunkbeded dorms) - it's probably a Hostel (or somewhere very close).

I hope you appreciate our reasoning for calling Goofys a Hostel - it's not commercially motivated - it's because we feel that we are running Hostel ethos accommodation - and that Boutique Hostel best sums up what to expect. If somebody knocks on our door looking for a bed in a shared dorm, we won't try and sell them a single room - we just send them 5 minutes round the corner to St. Christophers.

Having had this discussion (I hadn't put that much thought into it before), I think dorms are a defining characteristic of a Hostel (shared or private) - take away the dorms, and it's just a sociable Guesthouse/Hotel.

It's probably best if I leave it at that for now (give somebody else a chance) - but I might jump back in again if the discussion gets going.

Thanks,

Goofys :: Boutique Hostel :: Newquay

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Quote:
add in dorms (even if they're private)

what exactly is a private dorm?
a room with bunks? what if there arent any bunks? ive stayed in more than a few hotel rooms that could sleep 6 (2 doubles and a fold out double) - are they dorms?

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

gordo wrote:
what exactly is a private dorm?

Goofys wrote:
...
  • Dorms (a room designed to sleep 3 or more adults)
...

Sleeping dormitories

Quote:
... in hostels, the room typically has very few furnishings except for beds. Such rooms can contain anywhere from 3 to 50 beds (though such very large dormitories are rare except perhaps as military barracks). Such rooms provide little or no privacy for the residents, and very limited storage for personal items in or near the beds

private - adj

Quote:
Designed or intended for one's exclusive use

dormitory (dorm) - noun

Quote:
a room containing a number of beds and serving as communal sleeping quarters

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Quote:
Dorms (a room designed to sleep 3 or more adults)

so a room with 2 double beds?

Quote:
... in hostels, the room typically has very few furnishings except for beds. Such rooms can contain anywhere from 3 to 50 beds (though such very large dormitories are rare except perhaps as military barracks). Such rooms provide little or no privacy for the residents, and very limited storage for personal items in or near the beds

id never considered furnishings as an element here...
oh, we have a 38 bed dorm (just in reference to the 'rare' large dorms).

Quote:
Designed or intended for one's exclusive use

Quote:
a room containing a number of beds and serving as communal sleeping quarters

so are they exlusive or communal? at any one time, they cant be both.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Goofys wrote:
It's probably best if I leave it at that for now (give somebody else a chance) - but I might jump back in again if the discussion gets going.

Link to Wikipedia definition of Sleeping dormitories

Link to Dictionary.com definition of private

Link to Dictionary.com definition of dormitory

communal - adj

Quote:
used or shared in common by everyone in a group

Link to Dictionary.com defintion of communual

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Goofys wrote:
  • Dorms (a room designed to sleep 3 or more adults)

There are rooms that sleep more than 3 that aren't dorms. Many hotels and guesthouses on the booking engines offer multi-guest private rooms. There might be a gray area here.

Bunk beds don't make a dorm and dorms don't need to have bunk beds. In my mind the word "dorm" refers to shared accommodation -- even at a university. The "dorms" are shared rooms, even if you can also get private rooms. The college dorms I've been in usually have 2 single beds -- they're dorms because they're shared. Maybe there is more than one meaning.

Goofys wrote:
... take a budget Guesthouse with common areas and communal facilities - add in dorms (even if they're private), and it probably won't meet peoples expectations of a Guesthouse any more (Quality in Tourism certainly think so in the case of bunkbeded dorms) - it's probably a Hostel (or somewhere very close).

Does that regulation exist because of guesthouse "quality" reasons or because they weren't clear when they wrote the regulations and now regulators are just adhering to the written rules?

Goofys wrote:
I hope you appreciate our reasoning for calling Goofys a Hostel - it's not commercially motivated - it's because we feel that we are running Hostel ethos accommodation - and that Boutique Hostel best sums up what to expect. If somebody knocks on our door looking for a bed in a shared dorm, we won't try and sell them a single room - we just send them 5 minutes round the corner to St. Christophers.

You definitely have an unusual situation because of that regulation.

As a traveler, if I showed up at a "boutique hostel" I would expect to be able to rent a shared dorm -- but I don't know how it is in the UK. Smile

Do people show up looking for shared dorms?

Goofys wrote:
It's probably best if I leave it at that for now (give somebody else a chance) - but I might jump back in again if the discussion gets going.

Hopefully more people will be by to comment soon. Smile

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Hostels wrote:
There might be a gray area here.

The definition of Budget is a grey area, the definition of Common areas is a grey area, the definition of Communal facilities is a grey area - nothing's black and white in the real world. Are you trying to describe the nature of a Hostel? or define criteria for exclusion?

Hostels wrote:
As a traveler, if I showed up at a "boutique hostel" I would expect to be able to rent a shared dorm

Across the world, many Hostels have private rooms - those rooms are provided because many people show up expecting to be able to rent a private room - some solo travellers show up expecting to be able to rent a single room, some couples show up expecting to be able to rent a double room, some families show up expecting to be able to rent a family room, some groups show up expecting to be able to rent a private x-bedded room.

If you show up at a Hostel and the shared dorm is full, you would have to choose to either rent a more expensive private room, or try a different Hostel - Goofys is a Hostel where the (0-person) shared dorm is always full.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

I know that as long as we give our own definition to "hostel" meanings will be forced by private and conflicting interests: that means

    ambiguity for clients who don't always know in advance if they are going to a hostel, a hotel, a b&b, a guesthouse;
    unfair competition among properties.

An easy way to sort it out would be accepting an international classification: within EU the official classification of economic activities is the NACE rev2.2

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2007:216:0010:0016:EN:PDF

which must be used by all Members. Indeed in Italy the NACE is accepted into the Ateco 2007

http://www.istat.it/strumenti/definizioni/ateco/

So an hostel within EU is a company which is registerd to the local Chamber of Commerce under the code H.52.21; all other's properties are other things. A massive online company such as Venere.com follows and impose to properties this classification. I know it very well because such a code imply costs regarding security, hygiene and so on that b&b's and guesthouses do not have to comply to.

Now the problem is: are all main hostel portals disposed to abide to these regulations and tide up their internal classifications? I am of course referring to both the market leader, Hostelworld, and its competitors, Hostelbookers, Hostelsclub, Gomio and so on.

Enrico

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Goofys wrote:
The definition of Budget is a grey area, the definition of Common areas is a grey area, the definition of Communal facilities is a grey area - nothing's black and white in the real world. Are you trying to describe the nature of a Hostel? or define criteria for exclusion?

Accommodation types are fairly well defined. A "motel" is a hotel with parking spaces for each guest, typically outside the room. Maybe there are some places called motels that don't have parking, but it's stretching it a bit and if a guest shows up with a car and there is no free parking they might be confused.

This site's definition of hostel is just defining hostels how I see them -- an accommodation type with shared sleeping/common areas. Here's the oldest hostel reviews site on the Web with the same perspective:

[INDENT]To qualify as a hostel you must offer accommodation for independent travellers in shared dormitory-style rooms. We do not list places that cater only to groups or places where you have to book the entire room.[/INDENT]

The definition on HostelManagement.com is based on the conversation that we've been having in this thread. Since this forum thread started, I've also visited hostels and guesthouses in Asia, USA, South America and Europe while thinking about the definition and it has held up well so far.

I'm open to new ideas about it, but I'm still not convinced that bunk beds or social atmosphere are what make a property a hostel.

Goofys wrote:
Across the world, many Hostels have private rooms - those rooms are provided because many people show up expecting to be able to rent a private room - some solo travellers show up expecting to be able to rent a single room, some couples show up expecting to be able to rent a double room, some families show up expecting to be able to rent a family room, some groups show up expecting to be able to rent a private x-bedded room.

If you show up at a Hostel and the shared dorm is full, you would have to choose to either rent a more expensive private room, or try a different Hostel - Goofys is a Hostel where the (0-person) shared dorm is always full.

Another way of looking at that line of reasoning would be a motel that doesn't have parking and saying we're a motel without parking, just think of our parking lot as being full at the moment.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Goofys wrote:
Are you trying to describe the nature of a Hostel? or define criteria for exclusion?

Well...?

Hostels wrote:
Here's the oldest hostel reviews site on the Web with the same perspective

That criteria for inclusion/exclusion is likely influenced by the purpose of the website (although I wouldn't presume to speak on behalf of the author - that would be rude): -

Quote:
BUG – the Backpackers' Ultimate Guide

Budget travel is what we're all about. No flash hotels and fancy banquets – just the most comprehensive information on backpackers' hostels and living it up without blowing the budget.

Hostels wrote:
I'm still not convinced that bunk beds or social atmosphere are what make a property a hostel

Goofys wrote:
... meets my experience, perception & expectations of a Hostel: -
  • Budget
  • Dorms
  • Common areas
  • Communal facilities
...

... no bunkbeds, social atmosphere, vibe, hotel rooms with 2 doubles and a fold out double, in that list (no trumpets either).

VisitBritain (Britain's national tourism agency) describes a Hostel as follows: -

Quote:
What is a hostel?

Hostels are low-cost, traveller-friendly accommodation. They generally provide private and shared rooms for individuals, couples or groups. Most hostels are self-catering, although some provide hot meals and refreshments.

...

What facilities does a hostel provide?

Facilities vary from hostel to hostel – most will have a common room, a café/restaurant or self-catering kitchen so you can make your own meals, and lockers. But in some hostels (usually in bigger towns and cities) you’ll find internet access, bars, games rooms, libraries, satellite TV and laundry service. If you want to know more about the facilities on offer, contact the individual hostel before you book.

Who can stay in a hostel?

Hostels are only suitable for young travellers and backpackers, right? Wrong. Many hostels in Britain also offer accommodation for families, groups, people with disabilities and travellers of any age.

Quality in Tourism classifies Hostels as follows: -

Quote:
Hostels

Includes Bunkhouses, Camping Barns, Backpacker, Group (such as Youth Hostel Accommodation) and Activity Accommodation. Scheme Designators have been developed to help consumers understand the different types of accommodation available.

Hostel - Star rated accommodation often in shared rooms with bunk beds, family rooms may also be available. Hostels normally welcome individuals, families and groups, many of who are staying on a short-term basis. Hostels often have quite a formalised structure, which may or may not include restricted access, meal service etc.

Backpacker - Very similar in style to a Hostel, but may be run on less formal lines such as 24 hour access. They are often more appropriate for longer-term independent travellers and the younger end of the market and they tend not to take family groups.

Group Accommodation - Star rated accommodation often in shared rooms with bunk beds. Predominantly group bookings only accepted. May be fully serviced or Self-Catering.

Activity Accommodation - Star rated accommodation normally provided on a group basis. The establishment will also offer fully certified or licensed activities. May be fully serviced or Self-Catering.

Bunkhouse - Rural accommodation, which can be booked by groups or individuals. Services and facilities may be limited, but will include a Self-Catering facility.

Camping Barn - These provide very simple accommodation in a rural setting, often referred to as 'stone tents'. They have the advantage of being roomy and dry. Visitors should normally expect to bring their own sleeping bags and cooking equipment. Groups or individual travellers may be accepted.

QiT's Minimum Entry Requirements for Group Accommodation state: -

Quote:
In addition to all of the 'Hostel' criteria; minimum 'Group Accommodation' criteria will also require:
  1. Normally, group bookings only to be accepted.

That suggests to me that, not only is it acceptable for that classification of Hostel to accept only group bookings, but it is desireable.

YHA is an active member of Hostelling International (HI), and is represented on VisitBritain Development Committee. YHA adhere to QiT standards and classifications (and were probably actively involved in writing them).

Hostels wrote:
This site's definition of hostel is just defining hostels how I see them

It's not only solo travellers/backpackers that use Hostel, different types of users will see a Hostel in a different way.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Goofys wrote:
Goofys wrote:
Are you trying to describe the nature of a Hostel? or define criteria for exclusion?

Well...?

The word "motel" wasn't created with the purpose of excluding hotels that don't offer free parking outside the rooms -- it's just a different type of accommodation, no better or worse.

In my opinion "hostel" is not defined by character (there are many hostels with no character or fun), it's about an accommodation type. We could keep going over these same points, but I don't think we're going to make much progress Smile

I think the current definition of hostel on this website:

  • benefits travelers because they know what they're going to get. It makes sure that there is a specific word in the English language for a place that provides "shared accommodation" -- hostel. It doesn't have to only provide shared accommodation, but the general concept is shared accommodation/facilities.
  • benefits hostels because when hotels and hostel booking engines sell hotels as "hostels", it's not good for hostels.

Goofys wrote:
That criteria for inclusion/exclusion is likely influenced by the purpose of the website (although I wouldn't presume to speak on behalf of the author - that would be rude): -

The purpose of the website is to expand and promote hostels and hostelling from the perspective of hostels.

Goofys wrote:
That suggests to me that, not only is it acceptable for that classification of Hostel to accept only group bookings, but it is desireable.

All of the definitions you quoted include "shared rooms". I think there is a marketing trend lately that promotes the idea that "shared rooms are bad but hostels aren't like that anymore". I think that way of looking at shared rooms is bad for the hostel industry in general. Shared rooms aren't bad. Hostelling (generally staying in shared rooms) is a way of traveling.

Goofys wrote:
It's not only solo travellers/backpackers that use Hostel, different types of users will see a Hostel in a different way.

It's true that many types of people use hostels -- but the word typically refers to a specfic accommodation type.

I'm going to leave it there or we could go on forever rehashing the same points Smile
Maybe we should give it a little time for some other people to leave their perspectives? I'll send the email newsletter out within a week or two.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

EuroHostels wrote:
Hi UK,
Roger Clarke (CEO England and Wales), before his resignation, did what he had to do to keep them afloat and sold off many properties and created a feeling of 'Swim, don't sink' amongst the board and membership. I can speak first hand about Keith Legge (SYHA CEO) and he has very much streamlined and improved the Scottish YHA's business operations. He too has sold off properties. Of course there is a cost to this as well... the loss of the ethos.

Now, at hostel level, these business streamlining practices will always be seen as a negative thing. But, for the sake of future generations, shrewd management of costs and wages etc are vital. These skilled managers (mostly) may not always be the sociable types that we know and want, so therefore, there is sometimes a lack of atmosphere.

It is a fine line between employing a manager that is the 'Face of the hostel', loving the interaction with the guests, and one who is a bit of a bean counter. We need both in many ways, but finding them in pne person is not always easy. Many places are moving towards 'Guest Relations' staff who take on these roles. Obviously not in the smaller YHA type properties, but in the large independants this is the case.

This is an old post and off topic for the current debate, but I only just saw it when reading back on this post. Got to say I disagree 100% with this. The problem for the YHA in England and the SYHA isn't the presence of small unprofitable hostels. It's the presence of a thick layer of bureaucrats at the top of the organisation. For an orgainistation the size of the SYHA to be spending the percentage it does on administrative staff who do no direct hostel work is why they have to sell off properties. It's their only way of bringing in revenue. No independent would have anything like the cost burdens of the head offices of the YHA and SYHA.

If independents need outside help with marketing or web presence they contract it out. With the SYHA there are so many people at head office you lose track of what it is they're supposed to be doing. As for the current CEO streamlining this, that's what they'd like to claim, but the opposite is true. There are more layers of management than ever now. (Not hostel management, but administrative managers). As for bean counters - if only they had some who could find a model other than selling five or six hostels every few years - because at the current rate they'll be out of properties to sell soon.

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Re: Definition of a Hostel

Goofys wrote:

We don't offer "shared dormitory accommodation" - are we a hostel?

We meet the National Standard for a Hostel, but don't meet the National Standard for a Guesthouse/B&B (and won't while we have private dorms) - we don't offer stranger bodily function bonding in the bedroom - but there's breakfast, and the lounge for that.

Back on topic - I haven't been to your place, but as you've described yourself I'd call you a hostel. To me it's the facilities that make the hostel - common room, self catering kitchen, laundry etc. These differentiate a hostel from a hotel. Multiple occupancy rooms (beyond doubles with a fold out) also typify a hostel. So if I'm travelling in a group of 4 or 6 I can book a room and save compared to 2 or 3 hotel rooms. Whether you offer strangers to share or not isn't that important to me. If a solo traveller wants to stay, but they have to book a twin to themselves, then that's just a question of cost - if it's too high then they shouldn't book. In fact cost is one of the few questions you have a good idea about when you book. If you offer hostel facilities that's the most important thing. Sometimes one can book a hostel and find out there's no common room, or SC kitchen - to me personally that's not much of hostel.

The thing to me is that there are many types of hostel and no one definition will fit all of them. For most of the users and owners on this forum a hostel is by definition a backpackers place. For us the backpackers market is a small slice of our market. We also cater for walkers, cyclists, families and groups of various kinds, as well as tourists. These are the markets we need to address, and provide the facilities they want. If we don't do this we won't be in business for long. If you're not in a prime city or backpacker magnet location you have to offer facilities beyond the dorm. Personally I think you can so this and still be a hostel.

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