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Hostel vs. Hotel: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 9, 2023
A hostel offers shared, budget accommodations, often with communal facilities. A hotel provides private rooms with a higher level of service and amenities.

Key Differences

Hostel and hotel are both accommodations for travelers, but they cater to different needs and preferences. A hostel typically offers shared sleeping arrangements, often in the form of dormitory-style rooms. This communal setup promotes interaction among guests and offers a budget-friendly option for travelers. In contrast, a hotel offers private rooms, providing guests with more solitude and a generally higher standard of comfort.
When considering amenities, the distinction between hostel and hotel becomes clearer. Most hostels have shared bathrooms, kitchens, and common areas where guests can mingle. These spaces are designed to foster a community atmosphere. Hotels, on the other hand, usually provide en-suite bathrooms, room service, daily housekeeping, and often have on-site amenities such as restaurants, gyms, and pools.
The target audience for hostels and hotels also differs. Hostels are popular among younger travelers, backpackers, or those traveling solo who appreciate the social aspect and cost savings. Hotels attract a broader audience, including families, business travelers, and those looking for more luxurious accommodations and services.
The pricing structure between hostels and hotels is another key differentiator. Given the shared nature of many of its facilities, hostels tend to be more affordable, making them attractive to those traveling on a tight budget. Hotels, with their private rooms and a wider range of services, generally come with a higher price tag.
Lastly, the ambiance and experience of staying in a hostel versus a hotel vary significantly. Hostels often have a casual, friendly vibe, with many organizing group activities or tours for guests. Hotels offer a more formal environment, emphasizing comfort, privacy, and professional service.

Comparison Chart

Accommodation Type

Shared, dormitory-style
Private rooms


Shared bathrooms, communal areas
En-suite bathrooms, room service

Target Audience

Young travelers, backpackers
Families, business travelers

Price Point

Typically more expensive


Casual, social
Formal, professional

Hostel and Hotel Definitions


A place providing supervised lodging, especially for students or workers.
The university has a hostel for international students.


An establishment offering lodging to travelers, typically with private rooms.
The five-star hotel provided exceptional service and amenities.


A lodging facility emphasizing communal living.
The hostel had a shared kitchen where guests could prepare meals.


A place where guests can pay for rooms and services on a short-term basis.
They booked a hotel near the beach for their vacation.


A budget accommodation offering shared rooms and communal facilities.
Many backpackers stay in hostels to save money and meet other travelers.


A facility offering lodging and, often, dining and entertainment services.
Their hotel had an acclaimed restaurant on the ground floor.


A residence where travelers can rent beds in a shared space.
The city's newest hostel has a rooftop terrace with panoramic views.


An establishment that provides lodging and usually meals and other services for travelers and other paying guests.


An establishment which provides inexpensive lodging for specific groups.
The youth hostel is popular among young adventurers.


A large town house or mansion; a grand private residence, especially in France.


A supervised, inexpensive lodging place for travelers, especially young travelers.


An establishment that provides accommodation and other services for paying guests; normally larger than a guesthouse, and often one of a chain.


An inn; a hotel.


(South Asia) A restaurant; any dining establishment.


To stay at hostels while traveling.


(international standards) nodot=1 NATO/ICAO Phonetic Alphabet.}}


A commercial overnight lodging place, with dormitory accommodation and shared facilities, especially a youth hostel
A rundown hostel


The larger red property in the game of Monopoly, in contradistinction to houses. Category:en:Monopoly


(not US) A temporary refuge for the homeless providing a bed and sometimes food


The guest accommodation and dining section of a cruise ship.


(obsolete) A small, unendowed college in Oxford or Cambridge.


(Australia) A pub


(intransitive) To stay in a hostel during one's travels.


A house for entertaining strangers or travelers; an inn or public house, of the better class.


(transitive) To lodge (a person) in a hostel.


In France, the mansion or town residence of a person of rank or wealth.


An inn.
So pass I hostel, hall, and grange.


A building where travelers can pay for lodging and meals and other services


A small, unendowed college in Oxford or Cambridge.


A commercial establishment providing accommodations, meals, and other guest services.
The hotel's spa was the perfect place to relax.


A hotel providing overnight lodging for travelers


A building or complex where people pay to stay while traveling.
The historic hotel is a landmark in the city.


Inexpensive supervised lodging (especially for youths on bicycling trips)


Are hostels safe for solo travelers?

Many hostels prioritize safety, but it's essential to read reviews and choose reputable ones.

Is a hostel ideal for families traveling with children?

Hostels are more geared towards solo or young travelers, but some are family-friendly.

Are hotels generally more expensive than hostels?

Yes, hotels typically have a higher price point due to private rooms and added services.

Are hostels only for young people?

Hostels cater primarily to younger travelers, but they are open to guests of all ages.

Do hostels only offer shared rooms?

Mostly, but some hostels also offer private rooms at a higher price than dormitories.

Do hostels provide bedding and towels?

Most hostels provide bedding, but towels might be available for an extra fee or not at all.

Do hotels have a minimum stay requirement?

Most hotels don't, but during peak seasons or special events, some might.

What's a "boutique" hotel?

A boutique hotel is a small, stylish hotel, typically situated in a trendy urban location.

Do all hotels offer room service?

No, but many mid-range to luxury hotels provide this service.

Do hotels provide toiletries?

Most hotels, especially mid-range to luxury ones, provide basic toiletries.

Can you find hostels in rural areas?

Hostels are more common in cities, but some can be found in rural or off-the-beaten-path locations.

What is a "boutique" hostel?

A boutique hostel offers a more curated and design-forward experience, often with unique themes or decor.

Can I expect a minibar in my hotel room?

Many mid-range to luxury hotels offer minibars, but budget hotels may not.

Are pets allowed in hostels?

Some hostels are pet-friendly, but it's essential to check in advance.

Do all hotels have on-site restaurants?

Not all, but many hotels, especially mid-range to luxury ones, have one or more on-site restaurants.

What services do luxury hotels typically offer?

Luxury hotels offer services like concierge, spa treatments, gourmet dining, and personalized experiences.

Do most hotels have Wi-Fi?

Yes, the majority of modern hotels offer Wi-Fi, though some might charge an additional fee.

Are hostels only in urban areas?

While more common in cities, hostels can be found in various settings, including rural areas.

How do hostel prices compare worldwide?

Hostel prices vary based on location, with those in Western Europe and North America generally being pricier.

Do hotels have communal areas like hostels?

Some hotels have communal areas, but they are more common and emphasized in hostels.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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