1.1 Presentation and definition
According to INSEE, a youth hostel is an establishment run by a non-profit association. It offers users limited accommodation and catering and/or individual cooking as well as other services, programs and activities.
Hostels are distinct types of accommodations which date back to the beginning of the XX century. Indeed, the first hostel is believed to have been created in Germany in 1912 by Richard Schirrmann, who initially transformed spare school classes into bunkbed rooms.
The conceptual and functional meaning of hostels though has far older roots. In fact, in the middle ages numerous structures were built with the aim to give rest to pilgrims or wayfarers. These structures were known as “hospices” – from the Latin word hospitium. In the 1900s those accommodations - originally known for their hospitality trait - have undergone numerous transformations which brought them closer to the image they have today. The peculiarity of these accommodations is the sense of sharing: generally, hostels have shared dormitories and shared facilities.
Hostels are typically preceded by the word “youth” which indeed enhances the intrinsic connotation of being thought for younger people, backpackers or travelers. A few traits are for example a common area and affordable pricing. Although, since lifestyle and travelling habits have drastically changed over time, hostels have adapted to a continuously different demand. In Europe, hostels are now flourishing as an alternative accommodation type to short term rents (e.g. Airbnb) or typical hotels, with numerous features such as private rooms, social events, additional facilities (e.g. swimming pool, coffee lounge), extravagant layouts. [Cloudbeds]
In France, the historical market players are non-profit associations that offer low-cost housing throughout France. However, more and more private actors are trying to enter this promising market to create new concepts capable of seducing young Millennials eager to meet and travel.
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