The United States lags behind the rest of the world, especially Western Europe and Australia, in the number and capacity of its hostels.
The US has roughly 350 hostels. For context, Germany has more Hostelling International hostels than the US has total hostels. HI has nearly 10 times more hostels in Germany (505) than in the US (54), despite the US having more than double the number of international tourist arrivals (67M vs 30.4M in 2012, according to UNWTO).
In general, Americans seem averse to staying in hostels, especially domestically. Students settle for hostels when they’re studying abroad and strapped for cash, but they aren’t returning post-graduation. Many Americans have never stayed in a hostel or don’t even know what one is.
But a new wave of “boutique hostels” are providing millennial travelers with a mid-priced, well-designed, and more social alternative to hotels.