April 28, 2008
HOSTEL n 1 a residence providing shelter for the homeless, esp one run for charitable rather than for profitable purposes and 2 a residence for students, nurses, etc 3 Youth Hostel [13c: French, from Latin hospes guest]*
Hostelworld.com, the market leader in online hostel reservations, is demanding a radical dictionary change to avoid the 'down-and-out' stigma of the word hostel. The firm wants major dictionaries in the UK to scrap current definitions that a hostel is either for homeless and destitute people or just for workers, students, or youths.
"The vast majority of hostels in the world are now comfortable, clean places and many of an extremely high standard," says Hostelworld.com, who has written to the main UK dictionaries to campaign for the redefinition. "To describe them as homeless shelters or cheap bunkhouse accommodation for youths is simply wrong. Dictionaries are stuck firmly in the rambling shorts and knapsack era of Enid Blyton books. They need to get with the times."
The letter comes as hostels around the world are enjoying a surge of popularity as owners revamp and re-style them into trendy, sociable accommodation. Students are using them because they offer prime city and resort locations at a fraction of hotel prices and are a great way to meet new people and pick up excellent travel tips. Older holiday makers and families are booking in because they combine a sense of adventure with comfort and safety. "Hostels have moved on but, sadly, some dictionary definitions haven't. Language is always evolving and modern hostels are nothing like the image some dictionaries portray - it is time they changed", says Hostelworld.com spokesperson Niamh Ni Mhir.
Hostelworld.com, which books in the region of 15M hostel beds every year, has written to the Oxford, Collins and Chambers' dictionaries asking for urgent revisions. The word comes from the Latin 'hospes' for guests and has been applied to lodging houses of all standards throughout the ages. It became synonymous with cheap, no-frills accommodation after the war when youth hostelling became popular and into the 1960s when students needed affordable rooms while travelling around Europe on tight budgets.
"There is nothing wrong with hostels being great value for money but to have an image of boarding school dormitories, cold showers and mugs of cocoa is out of date." added Hostelworld.com.
* Definition taken from Collins English Dictionary
Hostelworld.com is a leading provider of online reservations to the budget, independent and youth travel market. It offers confirmed online reservations for over 16,000 hostels and budget hotels in 166 countries worldwide. The site also offers budget travellers free podcasts, customised city guides, a travel social network and more. Hostelworld.com is headquartered in Dublin and is fully owned and operated by Web Reservations International Ltd (WRI).