An End to the Hostile Hostel?

Travel Blog  •  Sarah Schmelling  •  08.17.06 | 11:57 AM ET

The cramped, shared spaces. The mysterious substances you step in as you traverse the maze of hallways to the tiny bathroom. The odd odors coming from the snoring stranger in the bunk below. Could all this fun at hostels become a thing of the past? According to an article in Sunday’s San Diego Union-Tribune by Bob Tedeschi, longtime backpacker haunts have greatly improved during the past few years, thanks to a push from hostelling organizations around the world. New amenities include Wi-Fi access, smaller and sometimes private suites, Jacuzzis and garden views—not to mention higher standards in cleanliness, safety, and even property-manager helpfulness. Proponents of the push, like Hostelling International, which represents 4,000 hostels in 60 countries, now send inspectors regularly to member affiliates to ensure they conform with high-level requirements. “They’re absolutely getting better,” Mark Vidalin, marketing director for Hostelling International USA, told Tedschi. “There’s been a recognition that hostelling has reached critical mass and gone beyond just cheap places to stay.”