A trip to the hostels’ past

Staying in hostels is one of the best things of backpacking. Not only because it’s much cheaper than other kinds of accomodation, but also because of the loads of people that you get to know and share stories with.


You know how hostels look like now: shared dorms (mixed or only for women/men), a couple of private rooms, a guest kitchen, common areas… Each hostel has its own soul. But how were hostels in the early days of Hostelling International Norway?

The first HI hostel in Norway was opened in 1930 in the city of Trondheim. Much has happened since then…

Ilens Forsamlingshus Trondheim
The first HI Norway hostel in Trondheim

Booking technology

At the beginning, it was not possible to book in advance. Every day at 6pm, the hostels opened their doors and let people go in. It was usual to see people standing outside of the hostels in a long queue to get a bed. And now you can easily book in 5 minutes on the Internet!

Working for a bed

To get a bed in a hostel, you sometimes had to work there (peeling potatoes, doing some cleaning…) for three or four hours. Now it’s not necessary any more, but people keep on doing it, thanks to volunteering programs.

Dugnad på Tuneheimen

Shared (but separated) dorms

In the past there were not private rooms: everything was shared. But the dorms were strictly separated, and women were forbidden to go into the guys’ room (and vice versa). In some small places, there was just a line on the floor to separate the boys from the girls’ side of the room. Nowadays you can stay in a mixed dorm if you feel like!


Forest hostels…

The hostels used to be in the countryside, and people hiked through the forest areas to reach them; just a few of the hostels were located in the cities. Now, you can find them both in the countryside and the urban areas.

… And school hostels

Some hostels used to be schools. They just took away the furniture in summer time and turn these places into hostels. Now it goes on like this: some hostels work like schools during the school year (like the one in Sogndal). But if you go there in summer, you will always get a proper bed!

The Sogndal hostel (today)

If you want to have a more visual idea of how the hostels looked like in these times, take a look at this video:

It’s a fact that the Hostelling International hostels are now completely different. But the essence is still the same. They keep on being the same social places, where you can get to know people from all around the world and share stories. Book your (21st Century) hostel experience at www.hihostels.no.

Text by María de la Cruz

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s