A hostel, or more formally known as a youth hostel, is a supervised lodging usually for young travelers. The definition of the word has changed over the years. Right now, hostels are no longer limited to accommodating young people; hostels take in people of all ages. However, some travelers still prefer having their own exclusive accommodations. They would rather stay alone than spend lodging with multitudes of travelers.
There are hostels that have a certain age limit for those who can stay in their facility. Very young children are not accepted in most hostels, and this is just for their safety. Having said so, if you are traveling with your family, together with your little ones, going for a hostel accommodation is not a good idea.
Hostels are just like dormitories. Each room can accommodate about four to ten persons. In the United States, hostels segregate people who check in by gender. Female guests have separate rooms from male guests. In Europe, however, it is different. There is no line dividing both genders when staying in hostels. Male guests are mixed with female guests. This even includes a shared bathroom, shower, etc. However, there are other hostels that do share rooms for both genders, but have separate baths and showers.
Before, hostels were places where one can get a bed and a night to stay in while on a trip. Today, hostels are more or less becoming like mini hotels where people book in advance and bookings can sometimes go for months, depending on the location of the said hostel. If a hostel is located near any popular destination, hostels are pretty much booked and it becomes difficult to get a place to stay if you do not make a reservation in advance.
Hostels are far cheaper than the ordinary hotel. Hostels, mostly, charge only around $25 to $30. There are even others that charge lesser. While in hotels, for a single night you can expect to pay a minimum of $100 for your stay. Furthermore, the staff at hostels can also serve as guides for your trip and destination. More than often, these people are knowledgeable about the places you are going to.
Overall, if you are simply looking for a decent place to stay and you do not want to worry about spending too much, a hostel is your better option over hotels. Of course, you cannot expect grand accommodations. But the thing is, if you are not really staying long and you just want a place to stay, what do you need these amenities from a hotel for? You would just end up paying more than your while.