The movie Hostel does a good job of scaring us silly Americans into thinking that Hostels are places of sin, evil, and death, particularly death (read my Hostel in Florence – Does a Serial Killer Live Here article). However, the truth about Hostels, at least most of them, couldn’t be farther from this characterization.
When thinking about Hostels, at least in Europe, remember to put them into the context of REALITY. For the most part, they are filled with 18-30 year old people traveling around for the holidays or the weekend. People are generally friendly, welcoming, and as curious about you and your culture as you might be about them and their culture. Unlike the movie Hostel, models are not walking around naked in the rooms in an attempt to seduce you and most rooms look like large and, on occasion chic, prison cells. Now, you may stay in nice rooms and you may on occasion see a naked person in the room but this is a practical thing and usually relates to changing clothes and not as a form of seduction. Also, you may even see an attractive person or two or more, but they are not there to kill you and most do not even come close to model status (Hostel movie reference).
Hostels are places where young people stay because the price is low and the atmosphere welcoming. Also, most backpackers/travelers/etc. will go through websites such as hostels.com/hostelbookers.com/hostelworld.com to search for a hostel and can read reviews for each facility. Obviously, if people were disappearing from a hostel, this would be apparent in the reviews and would not remain a secret because we travelers talk to each other a lot.
Think of a Hostel as a place to meet friendly single-serving friends (think Fight Club) in each city that you want to visit. So, grab a beer, sit in the common area, talk to some people, and have some fun exploring your destination with a fellow traveler. No one (probably) is going to cut you up or murder you ;P.