Until recently, hostels had a reputation for being somewhat unorganized and unclean. Backpacking travelers could save significant money by shacking up with strangers in bunk-style quarters, hoping not to encounter bed bugs or roommates with sticky fingers along the way. Though hostels haven’t exactly caught on in the U.S., budget-conscious travelers can pay as little as $8, or even less is some corners of the world, for a bunk bed mattress to call their own for the night.
But hostels have smartened up in the last decade. They liked the loyal travelers of the 1990s and 2000s and want to nurture further relationships. They also know travelers are looking to save money and that many Millennials just aren’t interested in chain hotels that offer the same experience no matter where they are. These hostels have done a little growing and a lot of maturing to capture the interest of traveling families. Now, they have private double rooms, many of them with private bathrooms. Freshly painted walls, hot water showers, and modern furnishings give them a minimalistic, yet somewhat upscale look. Many even include breakfast in the room rate, a big perk for parents who are glad to take advantage of every convenience possible to make travel with young ones less stressful.
Some hostels take reservations now, so even families who are more organized than the traditional backpacker can drive up in the rental car, matching luggage in hand, and expect a smooth check-in. In many countries, a private room in a clean, family-friendly hostel can be had for $35 or less. While the hotel industry has seen many ups and downs in recent times, it appears the hostel niche of the business is on to a growing trend that is only going to continue upwards.