People chatting with drinks in hand in an open space with high ceilings, a film projected onto a wall in a darkened lobby space and a kid’s birthday party. These are a few of the scenes that travelers may encounter when they step into “The Local NY,” a hostel located in Long Island City, Queens, New York.

Staying in a hostel is a different experience than staying in a hotel. When staying in a hostel, travelers often sleep in a bunk bed in a room shared with several people who may or may not be of the same sex. This goes for The Local and its 141 beds as well.

Depending on how mindful a roommate is, one might wake up to someone climbing up in the bunk above in the middle of the night, but one might also find new travel mates.

Besides several dorms and more private twin rooms, The Local in New York also offers a bar, gallery and working space. The laundry room and kitchen are shared among the guests.

“We consider ourselves sort of a community space,” general manager Matt Roth said. “The bar is supposed to a social center for the guests.”

The first hostels opened in Germany in the early 1900s, according to Hostelling International USA. Nowadays, Roth said he believes the hostel trend is taking off in the U.S., which is an improvement from the past five years. Roth also said 25% of his customers are domestic customers, compared to five years ago when they made up 10% of his customers.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines a hostel as “an inexpensive lodging facility for usually young travelers that typically has dormitory-style sleeping arrangements and sometimes offers meals and planned activities,” but one can meet people from all walks of life in a hostel, not just young travelers.

Sadie Smith is a 54-year-old American homeowner. Although she currently lives in the United Kingdom, she decided to stay with The Local while visiting the United States because her American home is rented. She decided to stay in a hostel instead of a hotel or with friends because of the “super people from all over the world.”

As someone who has stayed in hostels and hotels all over the world, Smith said she prefers hostels much more than a hotel filled with business people and tourists.

“You learn from others and, if you pay attention, you grow,” Smith said, “Rarely have I done that in a middle of the road accommodation. I go (to either) five-star, iconic hotels or hostel.”

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