hostel [O.Fr.,=guest place], an informal establishment offering travelers a place to stay for short periods of time. The accommodations are typically dormitorylike, and most often used by younger people or, in the past, by traders and pilgrims. Caravan traders and travelers on the Silk Road were some of the first to use crude hostels, where they and their pack animals rested and goods were exchanged. Modern hostels often appeal to backpackers and others traveling on a limited budget. Bathrooms are usually shared, and guests may prepare meals in a shared kitchen, though some hostels provided a hot meal.

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