Supervised shelter providing inexpensive overnight lodging, particularly for young people. Often located in scenic or historic areas, hostels range from simple farmhouses to hotels able to house several hundred people. Guests often cook their own meals, make their own beds, and do other chores; in return they receive lodging at much less than the usual commercial rate. Hostels place limits on the length of stay and formerly set a maximum-age limit for guests. The hosteling movement was founded by Richard Schirrmann, a German schoolteacher concerned about the health of young people breathing polluted air in industrial cities. Common in Germany in the early 1900s, youth hostels spread through Europe and other parts of the world after World War I, and an international organization was formed in 1932; currently known as Hostelling International and based in London, its membership includes national federations in more than 60 countries, comprising some 4,000 hostels. Some hostels still impose age limits.
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