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Why You Should Book a Hostel for Your Next Domestic Trip

Yes, hostels have the stigma of communal rooms filled with dirty backpackers and study abroad students trying to find Wi-Fi. But believe it or not, there are some budget-friendly yet trendy hostel options popping up both in the U.S. and abroad.

Until recently, I myself would have never considered looking into U.S. hostels—why would I, after some of the horrible European hostel experiences during my term abroad? Not to mention the countless accommodation possibilities now available.

But after discovering Hostelworld, I have been proven wrong.

I caught up with Hostelworld’s CMO Otto Rosenberger to find out how the company is converting hotel bookers, why the market is booming, and some of his favorite U.S. hostel options to consider for your next trip.

SmarterTravel: How do hostels compare with shared economy platforms (Airbnb etc.) in terms of price?

Otto Rosenberger: Hostels are extremely affordable options no matter where you are in the world, and provide a good bang for your buck. Whether you want a night in a dorm-style setting or prefer a private room, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable social and cultural experience that alternative accommodations and traditional hotels simply can’t offer.

ST: What’s the best feature about staying in a hostel besides the price?

OR: More than 70% of hostel travelers are millennials (18-34)* with a passion for experiential travel and the desire to socialize with other travelers. Loads of hostels emphasize social experiences with features like game rooms, on-site bars, cafes and restaurants, cinema rooms, swimming pools, and even the occasional tattoo shop.

Homesick? 95% of hostels* offer free Wi-Fi so you can say hi to family, get some work done, or post a pic on social media of you and newfound friends at your new favorite spot.

ST: How do you recommend booking a hostel in the U.S.?

OR: It’s all digital these days. Sites like Hostelworld are great because they curate the best options based on a traveler’s needs and desires. Book in a flash. It’s that easy. No matter where you go, there’s almost always a bed open, a new friend to make, and a story to tell. Whether you’re traveling solo or as a group, booking online will save you the money for shopping, eating, and socializing along the way.

ST: Give me a few reasons why hostels (particularly U.S. ones) aren’t just for backpackers.

OR: Millennial hostel travelers view travel not as a vacation but as an opportunity for personal enrichment. They’re educated (74% have a bachelor’s degree*) and are driven by a curiosity of new places and cultures. But they also seek out affordability and social experience along with upscale services, privacy, and digital interaction. They want more in their stay, which is why the modern hostel must meet and exceed those expectations. Hostels all around the world, especially in the U.S., have upped their game, improving their beds and bathrooms as well as interior and exterior design. Hostels now come with private rooms and fitness facilities, swimming pools, social events for all types of travelers and free Wi-Fi so travelers can stay connected. They’re designed for the modern traveler.

Check out some of Otto’s favorite U.S. hostels:

*The statistics cited within this column come from Hostelworld’s Hostel Trend Report, commissioned in partnership with independent travel research firm Phocuswright.

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