Hostelling International… in the USA?!

Looking for an affordable last minute get-away this Labor Day weekend?  Did you know there are nearly 60 hostels in the US that are part of the Hostelling International network?  Our new friends at HI-USA gave us the inside scoop on what’s in an American Hostel.

The word “hostel” seems to conjure up a variety of reactions and ideas.  Some who are familiar with them think of traveling through Europe or Latin America.  Others think of cheap accommodations and sharing a room with total strangers.  Still others tragically think of the movie.  Despite being around for more than a century and serving hundreds of thousands of travelers every year, there are many people who are still confused by hostels.

So, what is a hostel?

Hostelling International (HI), the USA and world’s largest network of hostels, provides some insight.  At a very base-level, hostels offer dormitory-style rooms with separate quarters for men and women. Some hostels also have private family and couples rooms.  Many hostels provide a blanket and pillow. Linens are often included in the price, or available for rental.

Most hostels offer fully equipped self-service kitchens or cafeterias, dining areas, secure storage and common rooms for relaxing and socializing with other travelers. Some hostels have laundry facilities, travel libraries and concierge service. There are a few that even have hot tubs, swimming pools, barbecues and an ocean at its front door. Most urban hostels have secure 24-hour access and are handicapped accessible.

In many ways, hostels are exactly how people describe them.  They provide affordable accommodations and allow travelers from all over the world to share space together.  However in other ways, hostels have a much greater impact than people realize.  HI-USA’s mission is “to help all, especially the young, gain a greater understanding of the world and its people through hostelling.”   This mission is achieved through a large network of hostels that provide impact-driven programs and activities.  Community-based programs include youth travel scholarships and an educational arts and culinary programs.  Hostel activities for guests include fun outings such as bowling, trivia nights and live music.  These programs create a space for the local community and the world to interact and connect with one another.

At the end of the day, HI-USA is helping transform what it means to be a hostel and what people can expect from hostels.  Yes, hostels provide affordable accommodations and shared spaces.  And they also provide community-driven programs and fun guest-focused activities.  To best describe them, hostels are where the world and the local community meet.  To find out more about HI-USA’s newest hostel, HI-Boston, visit and learn how to take a tour or get involved today!

Submitted by Paul Kuhne, Community Liason at HI-Boston


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