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Jugendherbergen liegen voll im Trend, Bild: Veres Production / shutterstock

The new trend – holidays in the youth hostel

What do you imagine when you think of a stay in the youth hostel? Perhaps faded memories of long-gone school trips will be awakened, of musty socks, creaking bunk beds, snoring fellow sleepers or dry rolls for breakfast?

However, this image of the youth hostel is long gone, and the image has changed greatly in recent years. If you spend your holiday in a modern, friendly and well-equipped youth hostel today, it is hardly reminiscent of the gloomy and spartan accommodations in which a grumpy hostel father leads a strict regiment and chases noisy pupils across the cold corridor.

Youth hostel – then and now

The idea of the youth hostel dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. In 1911, the teacher Richard Schirrmann opened the first youth hostel in the town of Altena in North Rhine-Westphalia. The basic idea for this was not only the promotion of youth travel, but also that of intercultural exchange in order to contribute to peace and international understanding.

The idea quickly spread: in the very first year, a further 16 youth hostels were opened, and in 1928 there were already around 2200 youth hostels internationally.
Today, almost 500 hostels organised in the German Youth Hostel Association (DJH) offer accommodation and holiday accommodation in Germany . There are around 4000 youth hostels in 90 countries worldwide, which are united under the umbrella organisation Hostelling International (HI).

School trip youth hostel
The class trip to the youth hostel is the highlight of the school year, Image: Halfpoint / shutterstock

All hotels that operate under this logo must meet certain minimum standards in terms of comfort, so that you can expect a similar level of equipment anywhere in the world. The basic equipment of a youth hostel always includes the communal facilities to promote contact among travellers. These include, in particular, the communal dining and recreation rooms, sports and outdoor facilities such as playgrounds and barbecue areas or fireplaces. Whereas large dormitories and simple sanitary facilities were the order of the day in the past, the trend in many youth hostels today is clearly towards smaller rooms – with two to a maximum of eight beds – often with their own bathroom. This means that even a longer stay is no problem for families with children.

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The operators also try to make the stay as attractive as possible. Nowadays, youth hostels not only offer overnight accommodation, but often also an extensive and often specialised sports and activity programme that promises individual travellers and families an eventful stay. The catering offer has also adapted to modern needs. Whether you just want to have breakfast in the youth hostel or want a full-fledged all-round service, all requirements are catered for.

Despite all the change, however, one thing has remained the same: a youth hostel is not a hotel. You either have to bring your own towels or rent them for a small fee and the beds are not made by the staff, but they are to be obtained by the guests themselves and removed before departure. Apart from that, youth hostels have now grown into a serious competitor for conventional holiday accommodation.

Holidays in the youth hostel – holidays in a different way

What are the reasons for spending the precious holiday time in a youth hostel? First of all, many youth hostels are located in particularly charming places and in great surroundings. Whether it’s a holiday by the sea, hiking in the mountains or a stay in a historic town to admire the sights, a suitable youth hostel can be found almost everywhere. In addition, they are often housed in unusual buildings. The choice is huge: On the island of Wangerooge you spend the night in the lighthouse, in Bremen on the steamer “Weser” at the harbor. Whether it’s a historic castle, a former water tower or even a tree house, a stay in the youth hostel promises a holiday with a special flair.

Especially for families or single parents with children, youth hostels are a great alternative to conventional accommodation. A casual atmosphere, large outdoor facilities where the offspring can romp around undisturbed and a tailor-made leisure offer make the youth hostels, which are specially designed for families, particularly attractive. Around 100 youth hostels in Germany are family-certified. This means that they are not only located in very scenic locations, but also have particularly family-friendly facilities.

There are changing tables, high chairs, play and cuddle corners and everything else that makes staying with children a pleasant experience. There is a wide range of leisure activities to choose from. A wide range of possibilities ranges from creative workshops, sporting activity offers or wellness, theme and adventure packages to language trips. So it’s no wonder that more and more families are opting for a holiday in the youth hostel.

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Even if you are travelling alone or as a couple, you can spend a great holiday in a youth hostel. There are always many opportunities for contact with other travellers – many an interesting travel acquaintance has already arisen while chopping vegetables in the communal kitchen. The experience, sports and learning programmes are of course also available for individual travellers.

Last but not least, the unbeatable price-performance ratio speaks for a holiday in a youth hostel. You can hardly take a cheaper holiday. Although the prices have been adjusted in recent years in the course of the modernization of the youth hostels, they are still far below the level of conventional accommodation. Beautiful locations, good facilities, full catering and an exciting leisure programme promise a great holiday at a low price. And class trips are also possible again after the long Corona break.

Holidays in a youth hostel – what you should know

Youth hostels are now also open to older young people – the traditional age restriction has largely been abolished. In some state associations, however, travelers under 27 are still given preferential treatment.

The need for membership in the German Youth Hostel Association if you want to stay overnight in a youth hostel at home or abroad has remained the same. Membership does not cost much: children, adolescents and young adults under 27 pay 7 euros per year, families and individual travellers over 27 pay 22.50 euros.

Take advantage of the taster offers, where a weekend (two nights with breakfast) with the whole family is available for 29 euros. There are also sometimes vouchers on Facebook or on the websites of the youth hostels that you can redeem for your next overnight stay.

Find out in good time before your holiday and, above all, book in good time, because the most popular youth hostels and leisure activities are often booked up quite quickly.

When booking, please indicate any special requests regarding food and accommodation, such as whether vegetarians are part of the tour group or whether you would like a room with a bathroom.

Detailed information, contact forms and booking options can be found on the websites of the German Youth Hostel Association or the individual regional associations.