The first youth hostel was founded by Richard Schirrmann around 1909. Schirrmann was a German teacher who organized trips and visits with his students. During one of these excursions, a sudden rainstorm forced his group to seek shelter in an empty school.
It was then that Schirrmann had the idea of using schools that were empty during holidays as guest houses for young people that were travelling in groups in the countryside. The idea caught on very quickly, and by the 1930s there were more than two thousand hostels in Germany.
The idea spread out in the rest of Europe, and after an important international conference in 1932, the idea was exported to the United States and many other countries, and the International Youth Hostel Federation was born, with the idea of providing cheap accommodation for young travellers.
With time, the concept of hostel has broadened, and now hostels accept guests of all ages, providing cheap but comfortable accommodation and a unique atmosphere that cannot be found in hotels.