Hostels are not just for the young anymore. These minimalist accommodations are also open to senior travelers who want to stay on a budget, make new friends and share travel tips. European hostels often include private rooms and baths, making them more attractive to the older hosteler.
Join the Hosteling Club
Travel guru Rick Steves recommends Hosteling International as a reliable source for finding and booking European hostels. Become an HI member -- it's free -- and take advantage of over-55 discounts and the online booking service. Although no specific hostels for seniors are listed, the online sorting feature allows you to search for places that stress relaxation and offer private rooms and even private baths. Many HI hostels have curfews and daytime lockout hours, lessening the possibility of attracting more exuberant -- and noisy -- younger hostelers.
Independent hostels are less likely to have strict rules but may still have private lodgings suitable for seniors. St. Christopher's Inn has seven senior-friendly hostels are spread across Europe, with two in Paris and others in Berlin, Prague, Bruges, Amsterdam and Barcelona. Private rooms are available, all with free Wi-Fi and most with complimentary breakfast. In London and Scotland, Globetrotter Inns has private rooms with bathrooms, an on-site restaurant and bar, mini-market, fitness room and free movie nights.
Luxury on a Budget
It may seem a contradiction in terms, but luxury hostels have begun to pop up all over Europe. Rooms at Plus Berlin all have en-suite bathrooms and the hostel has an indoor pool, restaurant and bar. Dream Hostel in Finland provides free popcorn on Friday nights or when it rains -- which is often -- and double rooms with private baths at half the price of a modest hotel. Cocomama in Amsterdam bills itself as the world's first boutique hostel, and features private rooms with Dutch themes such as Tulip and Forest. Similar upscale hostels are available in Lisbon and London.
Tips and Tricks
Book your hostel lodging well in advance if you want to secure a private room. If you're planning to stay in a group dorm, request a bottom bunk to make bathroom trips easier. Dorm rooms tend to have a lot of late-night activity and conversation, so do bring earplugs. If a free breakfast is offered, take a second helping or grab some fruit to fuel your morning activities. Most hostels have a community kitchen where you can prepare fresh foods from a local market or sometimes your on-site hostel grocery. Chat up your fellow hostelers to get tips on sights to see and the best hostels throughout Europe.