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Hostels provide accommodation where guests can rent a bed, sometimes a bunk bed in a dormitory and share a bathroom, kitchen and lounge. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels are generally cheaper for both the operator and the occupant; many hostels employ their long-term residents as desk clerks in exchange for free accommodation.
An effort should be made to distinguish between establishments that provide longer term accommodation (often to specific classes of clientÃ¨le such as nurses, students, drug addicts, arrested persons subsequently bailed to await trial and homeless people where the hostels are sometimes run by Housing Associations and charities) and those offering short term accommodation to travellers or backpackers.
Within the 'traveller' category another distinction can be drawn between hostels that are members of Hostelling International (HI), a non-profit organization encouraging outdoor activities and cultural exchange for the young, and commercial independent hostels. Hostels for travellers are sometimes called backpackers' hostels, particularly in Australia and New Zealand (often abbreviated to just backpackers) ... more on Wikipedia