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I was recently talking to a friend about plans to visit Europe in the next year or two, and she asked where I would stay. I said I will probably stay in hostels, as I've had good luck with that in Mexico and the U.S. She acted surprised, and said that she thought you could only stay in a hostel if you were younger than 25, or so.

While it may be more common for young, cash-strapped travelers to stay in hostels, I have never heard of such a restriction.

Are there such restrictions in some countries, or perhaps more likely, at certain hostels? Perhaps there are student-only hostels in some localities?

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When I visited Monaco a dozen years ago there was only one hostel and it was an official one and one of the official rules was a maximum age. I think the age was about thirty and I was about thirty one. My friend a few years younger than me could stay but I couldn't even though there was plenty of empty space that night. I don't recall the details and it may well have changed since then. –  hippietrail Apr 13 '13 at 2:31
    
Most of the hostels I have encountered in Europe with an age limit seem to cap the max age at 35. –  Marcus Gorillius Apr 14 '13 at 8:29
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3 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Yes, at least in Germany there are two kinds of "hostels": The first kind of hostel and the one generally meant by "hostel" is the youth hostel (Jugendherberge) which is managed by the DJH. You need to buy a member card (also available on the fly) to stay there and if you are over 27, you must pay the full price (which is still very low for a year ~15 €). You are also less ranked than young people so if the house has many young visitors you may not get a room.

Additional info: In Bavaria, a state of Germany, it was forbidden until 2005 to stay at a youth hostel if you were over 27. Perhaps your friend comes from there ?

The other "hostels" are meant for backpackers and do not need a card as they are private. Both hostels are not so cheap anymore, I have found pensions and hotel rooms with much more comfort which were only slightly more expensive. So look out for room prices.

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There are certain "hostel networks" that have an age limit (Thorsten already gave an example). Those are usually connected with youth associations or are governmental initiatives to young people. In the private market I have never seen any limits.

A limitation that I´ve seen more than once was the maximum allowed time to stay in an Hostel. These limits are usually large, but you may want to keep that in mind if you plan to stay for some time in a place. The limits I've seen were always around 3 weeks. I can only assume that this limitations exist just to avoid people from start living in hostels more permanently.

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In fact short maximum allowed stays were common and may still be in some places. I ran up against 3-day maximum stays in HI hostels in Los Angeles in 2000 and again in Vancouver six or seven years later. –  hippietrail Apr 13 '13 at 13:12
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While there are age restrictions in some areas, if you use some standard sites such as hihostels.com or hostelworld.com they mention the age restrictions for each hostel. You can book accordingly.

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