Nearly 100 youth hostels around the UK have won 24-hour alcohol licences, in spite of widespread local protests.
The YHA denied it would allow "all-night raves" at its properties
The Youth Hostel Association (YHA) said it had made bids for round-the-clock drinking at 118 of its sites, 93 of which have so far been granted.
But objections have been raised to 39 and residents' groups have criticised the applications as "a menace".
The YHA's Paul Fearne said they were "purely practical" and insisted it did not allow all-night alcohol sales.
Mr Fearne denied the move was about transforming its hostels - traditionally the preserve of hikers and ramblers - into Ibiza-style 24-hour party venues.
"It's a lot less exciting than that," he said.
"We wanted to renew existing licences and it was cost-effective to make blanket applications for all our sites.
"We've no intention of holding all-night raves."
The YHA said it had had only one bid for a round-the-clock drinks licence turned down by a local authority, while a further three will be resubmitted after having been withdrawn.
Decisions on a further 21 cases are pending and four additional cases will be held next year.
In an effort to diversify its customer base, the association allows clients to block-book entire venues for wedding receptions, parties, meetings and conferences.
But Alan Grant, secretary of the National Organisation of Residents Associations (Nora), said people living near youth hostels would not be reassured by the YHA's promises.
"Residents in many parts of the country already face problems with anti-social behaviour, late-night noise, vandalism and violence because of booze culture.
"I am sure that the YHA acts responsibly but the problem occurs if a youth hostel which has been given an all-night licence changes hands.
"The blanket applications will be seen by many people in communities across the country as a menace."
Laws allowing 24-hour licensing were brought in at the end of 2005.
Government reviews of the legislation are expected to report in February.