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December 02, 2008
No longer are hostels the drab, sparsely furnished dormitories of yester year. Hostels have finally come of age. Previously a secret confined to those in the know, the general public are now catching on that hostels have turned from bleak to chic.
The credit crunch is largely responsible for this realisation as consumers frantically search for ways to holiday without blowing the budget. Hostelworld.com, the largest provider of online hostel bookings has seen an increase in bookings of Irish travelers to cheaper destinations including China, Thailand, Argentina and Brazil where the euro goes further than at home. There is also a considerable increase in travelers heading down under to Australia and New Zealand to enjoy the better climate and wait until the recession ends.
Hostelworld.com spokesperson, Aisling White, says, "Hostels nowadays rival boutique hotels in terms of facilities and location. Many hostels offer private rooms, ensuites, pools and free internet, bars and restaurants and a unique social experience unmatched by hotels."
Contrary to popular belief, hostels are not just for the 20-something backpacker. Families are booking in because they combine a sense of adventure with comfort and safety. Older holiday makers and so-called 'grey-gappers' stay in hostels because they offer prime city and resort locations at a fraction of hotel prices.
As a testament to this growing trend and change in people's perceptions of hostels, Hostelworld.com, who book somewhere in the region of 15 million beds each year, has launched a campaign to redefine the word "hostel", which many of the popular dictionaries refer to as "shelters for the homeless", a "supervised lodging for students and nurses" or "supervised lodging for young people on bicycle trips"*.
Hostelworld.com Chief Executive, Feargal Mooney believes people are finally starting to realise the old school image of hostels is a thing of the past, however dictionaries are still yet to recognise that the traditional hostel is almost obsolete.
"Hostels have changed, and so have public perceptions, but dictionaries haven't. Language is always evolving and modern hostels are nothing like the image some dictionaries portray - it is time they moved on and got with the times."
Letters have been sent to all the major English dictionaries including Oxford, Collins, Chambers and Random House.
More than 1,200 people have signed a petition supporting the campaign to redefine "hostel". Hostelworld.com also surveyed more than 2,500 people, 79% of whom agreed the dictionary definitions are out of date.
The term 'hostel' comes from the Latin 'hospes' for guests and has been applied to lodging houses of all standards throughout the ages. It became synonymous with cheap, no-frills accommodation after the war when youth hostelling became popular and into the 1960s when students needed affordable rooms while travelling around Europe on tight budgets.
The Hostelworld.com petition can be viewed at www.hostelworld.com/petition
* Definitions taken from Chambers, Collins and Random House English Dictionaries
Hostelworld.com is the leading provider of online reservations to the budget, independent and youth travel market. It offers confirmed online reservations for over 19,000 hostels and budget hotels in 170 countries worldwide. The site also offers budget travellers free podcasts, customised city guides, a travel social network and more. Hostelworld.com is headquartered in Dublin and is fully owned and operated by Web Reservations International Ltd (WRI).
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