Hostels can be great places to meet people as well as an inexpensive sleeping option.

Hostels can be great places to meet people as well as an inexpensive sleeping option. (iStock)

Traveling near or traveling far, there will always be a need for a roof over one’s head. And when there’s a specific need, or a wish for a certain vibe, hotels and other properties within a network can help narrow down a list of seemingly infinite choices. Here are some networks worth checking out before booking your next room:

Travelers on a budget: Hostelling International, the world’s largest network of youth hostels worldwide, was founded back in 1932 with the aim of promoting a newly-conceived concept. Today HI is made up of 60 Member Associations operating over 2,650 hostels. Properties within the network can be considered safe, clean, sustainably operated and family-friendly, as opposed to some independent hostels in large cities that tend to cater more to a younger and party-hungry segment of traveler. In many countries, membership is a prerequisite to a stay; in any event, membership can be purchased at the time of check-in. Despite the name, membership is open to all, with no age limits imposed, and enduringly popular with families. Online:

Cyclists: Those cycling along some of Germany’s estimated 4,280 miles of bike paths are undoubtedly happy to see a ADFC Bett+Bike sticker on the door of any prospective place to spend the night. The designation, awarded by a subdivision of the German Cyclist’s Association that operates within the tourism sector, can apply to a variety of guest establishments, from five-star hotels to simple campsites. Over 5,900 properties not only in Germany but also in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg and Switzerland can be found on the organization’s website. Online:

Those with property of their own to share can benefit from membership in Dachgeber, or Roof Giver. Members offer to provide space to bikers and other active travelers in exchange for the chance to take advantage of the same form of hospitality, which does not have to be mutual. Online:

Child-friendly: is not a network per se but rather a booking portal whose listings include over 700 hotels offering childcare and/or a comprehensive program of activities for their youngest guests. Once an attractive offer is located through its search filters, website users are led directly to the property in question. The properties listed are located in Austria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and other countries. Online:

Eco-friendly: Those after both sustainability and an upscale ambiance might wish to check out BIO HOTELS, a group of some 190 hotels whose member properties strive to use clean and renewable energy, have low CO2 emissions, offer natural cosmetics and serve regionally sourced, organic foods. Guests are encouraged to experience the surrounding countryside in a climate-neutral way, such as on a guided hike or a mountain bike tour organized by the hotel. Many such hotels also offer their own bike rental services. Hotels within the network are located in 11 European countries including Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy and Slovenia. Online:

Luxurious: The Leading Hotels of the World is a network of more than 400 independent, high-end hotels found in over 80 countries. The group’s collection of hotels are properties known for a combination of distinct features and luxurious appointments. Amongst its European offerings are a mixture of spas, golf clubs, beach resorts, urban, boutique and other properties. The posh places on offer include, for example, the Palais Coburg, a converted palace in Vienna, Austria or The Reserve, a property in Funchal, on the island of Madeira, Portugal, where services and amenities include unlimited spa access, a private pool and terrace, and luxury experiences such as a guided fishing boat ride or private yacht tour. Online:

Barrier-free: AccessiblEurope is an organization based in Italy dealing with the concept of accessible tourism. Since the mid-1990’s, AccessiblEurope has tasked itself with evaluating guest facilities including hotels, spa resorts, guest houses, campgrounds and other properties. Accessibility in both common areas and rooms specifically adapted for use by people with reduced mobility has been evaluated, allowing those with physical limitations and their travel companions to find properly adapted spaces and features such as wide doorways, spacious elevators, roll-in showers or bars affixed to the walls. Some properties will also offer accessible swimming pools or beaches, or even rehabilitation and a therapy center. Online:

Holiday rentals in France: Gîtes de France is a label assuring vacationers of a consistent standard of quality throughout the land. While the term gîte refers to a self-catering holiday home, often available for a weeklong stay or over a long holiday weekend, this is not the only type of property one can discover on the brand’s website. Some 42,000 owners of hotels, bed and breakfasts, campgrounds, group lodgings and other properties throughout France can boast of being part of the brand. Online:

Farm stays in Italy: In contrast to a bed and breakfast or a rural vacation home, the Italian word “agriturismo” refers to a real, working farmhouse or winery. Accommodation ranges from rustic and simple to ultra-luxurious; what’s common to all establishments is a connection to the land. The serving of high-quality food produced and prepared on-site often figures large within a property’s offerings. The organization Agriturismo not only promotes such properties on its website but supports their owners with marketing tools, training projects and other forms of assistance. Online:

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