[photopress:shenzenloftyouthhostel_1.jpeg,full,alignright]The concept of the youth hostel started in Germany in 1912 when Richard Schirrmann created the first permanent youth hostel in Altena. It was part of a general movement to get let the people of the city have a breath of country air. The young visitors would manage the hostel themselves as much as possible, such as with doing chores which helped keep the costs down.
Now there is Hostelling International (it once was the International YHA), a nonprofit organization composed of more than 90 associations representing about 4,000 hostels in over 80 countries.
Initially hostels were closed during the day; you had to bring your own sheets (normally a sheet type sleeping bag); you could not arrive by car; the dormitories were sexually segregated and there was neither hanky nor panky allowed on the premises although it was amazing what could be done with a little ingenuity.
Independent hostels do not belong to HI and do not have to conform to the accommodation standards set by HI although they are sometimes less expensive. However, most provide accommodation for outdoor pursuits such as hillwalking, climbing and bicycle touring. Which means they retain much of the original vision.
Older-style hostels have dormitory style accommodation; newer hostels usually include en-suite accommodation with single-occupancy rooms.
Now more than ten tourism experts from China and abroad have gathered at a seminar at the Loft Youth Hostel in the Overseas Chinese Town in Shenzen to promote the youth hostel movement. In truth, it seems a natural fit for China.
The Loft Youth Hostel, which opened in August, charges RMB50 ($6.25) per bed per night from members who pay an annual fee of RMB70. This also guarantees discounts at other youth hostels on the mainland. A budget hotel in Shenzhen normally charges more than RMB150 for a standard room so it halves the cost of accommodation when traveling.
Rawdon Lau, former secretary general of International Youth Hostel Federation (IYHF) based in the United Kingdom, said, ‘Youth hostels, often compared with budget hotels, are different in that they promote the ideas of cultural exchanges, environmental protection and social responsibility in addition to cheap and comfortable rooms.’
Lau, a volunteer working at the hostel, said the Loft hostel might be the only hotel in China that does not allow smoking. He said, ‘We collect used bottles, waste papers and used batteries. We purchased furniture from Ikea and put the chairs and cupboards together ourselves. We are doing it to show our guests that they should heed environmental protection while staying in the hostel.’
Source: Shenzhen Daily and research.