Once predominantly associated with the 20-something backpacker, hostels around the world are now recognizing the demand for affordable family accommodation and are adapting their facilities accordingly.
Global PR and Content Manager at HotelsCombined, Alycia Simons says that with hostel options growing, families are increasingly recognising the benefits of hostel affordability.
'Gone are the days when families with young kids were relegated to theme park destinations and buffet restaurants. Holidaying families are growing increasingly adventurous and are interested in an ever-expanding assortment of experiences – nothing is off limits anymore."
'Many of today's hostels are the perfect option for families travelling on a budget. They're centrally-located, can house numerous people in the same room and boast cost-saving features such as laundry rooms and courtesy shuttle buses."
According to HotelsCombined, these are the features to look for when booking a family-friendly hostel:
Family rooms (ideally located on a separate floor from other door rooms for noise control)
Child-friendly amenities (cots, highchairs, etc.)
Entertainment offerings (video games, board games, a pool, etc.)
YHA International Hostels has welcomed a steady stream of families over recent years. Operations Manager Robert Henke says the organization has made a point of ensuring that each of its locations now offers family-friendly features.
'To keep costs down, all YHAs have self-catering kitchens so families don't have to eat out three times a day. Some have cafes or restaurants onsite," he says. 'Many have large family rooms that can sleep up to 5 people – perfect for multi-generational travel. There are also communal areas where families can hang out, play games and meet other people and children from around the world."
He points to the UK's YHA London St. Pancras, which enjoys a central city location across from the Kings Cross/St. Pancras international Station and is within walking distance from various family-friendly attractions. The hostel supplies a range of family board games for use, welcomes babies and provides cots upon request. In Australia, the Blue Mountains YHA is also an especially great pick for families thanks to its arcade games and dedicated kids' corner.
Family-friendly hostels aren't limited solely to the YHA International chain. With a database of over 800,000 properties, the search filters on HotelsCombined make it particularly easy to locate family-friendly properties. These are some of the world's top family friendly hostels:
Palm Lakefront Resort and Hostel, Orlando, USA
Families can save lots of money on a Disney World visit by choosing this comfy property as a base. Located along Lake Cecile in Kissimmee, Florida, the hostel is a quick bus or train ride from the Magic Kingdom and features a range of family amenities including a pool, a barbeque pit and a common room with foosball table, Xbox and a Playstation 2.
Adelaide Hostel, San Francisco, USA
With its free daily breakfast and weekly dinners, cash-strapped parents will certainly appreciate this budget-friendly gem – many private rooms also come equipped with a refrigerator and microwave to keep snacks handy for grumpy tots as well as a television to help keep them entertained.
Hana Hostels, Japan
Offering four locations across the country - Fukoka, Hiroshima, Osaka and Kyoto – this Japanese hostel group happily welcomes kids and babies, with games and cartoons available for tots in common areas. Bonus: the properties all score high guest reviews on the HotelsCombined website!
Stayokay Hostels, Netherlands
Boasting 26 Dutch properties, this Hostelling International-affiliated group keeps kids amused with various sports fields and indoor recreation options. Travelling clans can also take advantage of the hostel chain's family card, which for a nominal annual fee provides discounts on accommodation, bike rentals and tours.
Adventure Queenstown Hostel, Queenstown, New Zealand
The great thing about this cosy hostel is that it has a maximum capacity of 50 people and isn't directly surrounded by any late-night venues – so no worries of little ones being kept up at night by rowdy backpackers! The property will also loan out bicycles, DVDs and Frisbees (for the nearby Frisbee golf course).
The Valley House Holiday Hostel, Achill Island, Ireland
Offering an onsite pitch and putt golf course and plenty of nature trails, this friendly hostel is a great place for kids to burn off energy. Did we mention there's also a picturesque beach just a 10 minute walk away?
Habitat HQ, Melbourne, Australia
Situated in Melbourne's trendy St Kilda neighbourhood, Habitat HQ is a perfect choice for families on a road trip as it offers guests free, secure car parks. It also has the advantage of being the first carbon neutral backpacker hostel in the city.