Hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, and private rooms may also be available.
Hostels are often cheaper for both the operator and occupants; many hostels have long-term residents whom they employ as desk agents or housekeeping staff in exchange for experience or discounted accommodation.
In a few countries, such as the UK, Ireland, India and Australia, the word hostel sometimes also refers to establishments providing longer-term accommodation. In India, Pakistan and South Africa, hostel also refers to boarding schools or student dormitories in resident colleges and universities. In other parts of the world, the word hostel mainly refers to properties offering shared accommodation to travellers or backpackers.