Hostels generally offer dormitory no-frill style accommodation, separated by gender, with shared bathrooms. Most hostels offer real budget type of accommodation with only the very basics. Some hostels do offer private rooms, however, and occasionally these rooms may even have a private bathroom. Many hostels offer shared kitchens and living areas and some also have Internet access on site. Hostelling is a popular way for students and young people to travel, but most hostels nowadays don’t have age restrictions any longer which means even middle aged individuals and seniors are welcome to stay. It’s a bare bones way of traveling, but one of the benefits is that it does offer the opportunity to connect with other like-minded travelers. Often the atmosphere at hostels is very informal, casual and friendly, so even when traveling as a single person it should be quite easy to make new friends.
Some of the hostel websites also offer message boards, travel stories and various travel-related services such as travel insurance, rail passes, adventure tours, flights & car rentals. One very nice feature of some of the hostel websites is that they offer ratings of hostel properties that were completed by previous travelers, providing some insight into the quality of the property in question. Hostel websites generally allow you to search for availability by date and to make a reservation online.