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Do Hostels Have Age Limits? If So, What's Up With That?

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Piccadilly Backpacker's Hostel picture Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Backpacker's Hostel exterior

© Kathleen Crislip
Question: Do Hostels Have Age Limits? If So, What's Up With That?
Answer: Hostels with age limits do exist, but they're more likely to be party palaces than the perfect place to rest a weary head (and if the hostel practices a lockout, not much of a place to rest the day-after headache, either). If a hostel does have age limits, it's likely to be at the lower end -- e.g. no one under 18. At the upper end, you'll find that some rules do declare those over 30 proibido.

Are hostel age limits enforced? Well, we're not exactly spring chickens, but by no means are we ... old (ok, one of us is over 30). And we've never been turned away from a hostel with an upper age limit of 30 (we've not personally seen a hostel that bothered prohibiting travelers who had surpassed that ancient age). Who might want to stay in a hostel past their 30th birthday? Hey, we've glimpsed true geezers in many hostel halls, more than ever as of late and most especially in the newish animal in the hostel world: boutique hostels. As well, women of a certain age can often be found in a hostel's kitchen in the early a.m. (though in some curious vampiritic reversal, they're never seen at night).

As far as youngsters roaming around hostels: before you curl your lip if you're anti-kid, recall that hostels' history are as a lodging designed to appeal to young travelers (meaning students) looking for cheap (emphasis on that) and comfortable lodging. Since the idea of hostels was first floated in 1909, the hostel model has undergone some evolution: today, travelers of every age looking for that same cheap, comfortable accommodation are drawn to hostels, and that includes families with kids.

The vast majority of hostel lodgers are, of course, still students (or at least between 18-30), and that means the vast majority of hostels still cater to your age group. Boutique hostels are an upscale trend that's likely to last, though: in the '00's, bold hostellers dared to go where a student on a shoestring might fear to tread as plenty of folks began pinching the pence and pennies during the 2008 recession, and those relatively well-heeled travelers didn't necessarily want to flop in what they considered a flophouse. Subsequently, those who might formerly have turned up their nostrils at hostels are now being catered to by this admittedly very cool new breed of hostel. Articles in toney travel mags started touting this amazing new way to stay on the cheap, and mainstream travelers started finding that hostels' lack of concierge and limited "maid" service pales in comparison to free wifi and breakfast in truly cute cribs. (Read more: "Hostels Growing Up, or Growing Mainstream?")

See for yourself: the annual Hostelworld Hoscars, awards chosen by those amassing the most positive reviews at this gigantic hostel booking site have, in 2009 and 2010, been ruled by boutique hostels like Lisbon's Traveller's House (see a list of Lisbon's best hostels for a veritable who's who of the world's bet boutique hostels).

Learn more about hostels in general:

Learn more about boutique hostels:

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