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Think of hostels and you may think of school-style dormitories, with grotty shared bathrooms full of ‘party-hard’ gap year kids. Not exactly the kind of accommodation your average couple, family or fellow grown-ups may be booking in a hurry. But keep an open mind and you’ll find that today’s hostels can also be smart city bases or cosy scenic boltholes – perfect for those looking for a low-impact, affordable, and even green travel stay. The more money you save on accommodation, the more can be spent on experiencing the location…

The Backpack hostel in Cape Town, South AfricaMake sure you do a bit of savvy searching before your trip (there are still plenty of traditional hostels out there that may not offer the services, or atmosphere, that suits you). Sites including Hostel World, the Youth Hostel Association and Hostelling International list thousands of hostels across the world, alongside advice and tips on how to ‘hostel’.

Hostel World lets you search and book around 27,000 hostels in 180 countries including major cities such as London, New York, Paris and Dublin, with a variety of deals and offers available at any one time. The 3.5 million or so user reviews will ensure you book the quiet and beautiful ex-monastery in Verona, rather than the party crash palace in Rome! The site also offers video travel guides and itineraries of the top destinations to help plan your visit.

Youth Hostel Association (YHA) – Despite the name there are no age restrictions for staying at a YHA hostel in Beer Youth Hostel in DevonEngland¬†and Wales. In fact you’re more likely to bump into grown-up ramblers, young families and independent travellers at check-in than a school group on a fell-walking holiday. And unlike the ‘old days’ the hostels on offer are modern and friendly: many include bars, wifi and private suites (although sharing is a good way to meet new people). Many YHA hostels are great bases for outdoor pursuits being, as they are, scattered around some of the most stunning parts of the country – the Lake District, Yorkshire Moors, Jurassic Coast and Cotswolds – but you can also find them in places such as London’s fancy Holland Park! There are also branches of the YHA in hostel-savvy countries New Zealand and Australia.

Port O'Call Lodge in Port Douglas, AustraliaHostelling International (HI) lets you search and book over 4,000 hostels worldwide, and if you become a member you can save 10% on bookings all year. They recently launched an Android app so you can search and book on the move. What makes HI even more attractive to responsible travellers is that all of their 4,000+ hostels must adhere to the Hostelling International (IYHF) Sustainability Charter which includes minimising waste and energy use, and being sensitive to local environments and communities. Many hostels are going above and beyond this with programmes committed to sustainable builds, organic food production and low-impact tourist activities developed with local people. Check out their pick of the best green/eco hostels.

Have you stayed in a brilliant eco hostel? Or do you have some tried and tested tips for staying at hostels? Share your thoughts…

This post is sponsored by Hostel World

  1. The Guy Reply
    It's been a few years since a used a hostel but I took out life membership from the YHA since it is such good value. I agree that hostels can now be places of good comfort and in a great selection of locations.
    • Kerry Law Reply
      Agree! I think the old fashioned image of 'school trip' halls doesn't apply to the majority anymore - and some are in spectacular locations worth the membership alone!

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