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Hostel Room Etiquette: What’s Cool And What’s Not

Hostel Room Etiquette: What’s Cool And What’s Not

When it comes to hostel life, there are a lot of unwritten rules. And because frequent hostel goers are so used to them and assume everyone knows them, they’re rarely shared.


For a newbie hostel goer however, the situation of being kept in the dark can be daunting. To throw you a bone – because we’ve been there too – we’ve put together a list of hostel dos and don’t. Use this as your guide for your next hostel stay.

#1 It’s Cool To Be Friendly

Image: Priscilla du Preez / Unsplash

Sure, hostels are affordable and, with many located in city centres and with built-in tour desks, incredibly convenient too. But they’re also known for being social places. In fact many travellers specifically choose to stay in them in the hope of meeting people.

Keep this in mind throughout your stay as you might have people chatting to you in the common areas or in the rooms. Even if you’re not feeling up for a chat, it’s important to always be polite back.

#2 It’s Not Cool To Be Messy

Image: Greta Schölderle Møller / Unsplash

You’ll probably be travelling with a suitcase or bag filled with a lot of things. And you’ll probably need to use a lot of said things. But there’s no reason to unpack them all and spread them everywhere. After all, if everyone did that, the room would be one huge mess.

Use the locker or shelving space most hostels will provide you with. Take what you need from the storing area when you need it and return it back when you don’t.

#3 It’s Cool To Lock Up Your Stuff

Unless you’re in a private room or have lucked out with a virtually empty hostel, chances are you’re sharing a room with strangers. Of course it would be nice to assume your fellow travellers are all honest, but realistically speaking, they might not be. So it’s a good idea to lock up your valuables.

Hostels usually provide you with a lockbox and lock, but if not, it might be worth investing in a suitcase lock before your trip.

#4 It’s Not Cool To Be Loud

Image: Priscilla du Preez / Unsplash

While some hostels have dedicated quiet hours, others assume they’re common knowledge. If the hours aren’t specified, it’s safe to go by a 11pm to 7am time block. During that time, it’s expected you won’t listen to music without headphones, turn on the lights if your roommates are already in bed, talk loudly with them if they’re awake or make any phone calls.


In saying that, hostel goers know what they’re getting into so are understanding if for some reason you do need to make a little noise.

#5 It’s Cool To Be Strategic With Your Packing

Have an early morning or late night flight? You’ll want to ensure you’re either packed and ready to go when it’s time to leave or, if you’re just arriving, have all the gear you need easily accessible in your suitcase.

If there’s one thing hostel goers can’t stand, it’s the sound of bags rustling and suitcases zipping when they’re trying to catch some zzzs.

#6 It’s Not Cool To Leave Dirty Dishes

Most hostels have kitchens. And, like every other hostel area apart from your bed, they’re shared spaces. It might be because of this that newbie hostel goers seem to think they’re regularly cleaned. Newsflash: they’re not. Though they might be wiped down every morning or evening, they’re certainly not tidied up after every use.

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Instead, it’s up to you to make sure you’re washing your dishes, putting away any cooking supplies after you’re done using them and in general leaving the kitchen ready for the next person to use.

#7 It’s Cool To Be Prepared

Image: Redd Angelo / Unsplash

There are a few items that can make a hostel stay heaps easier for both you and your fellow guests. There’s of course the lock we mentioned, but there’s also earplugs and a sleeping mask if you’re a light sleeper, your own towel (some hostels charge you for them), laundry detergent (if you’re planning on staying awhile) and thongs for the shower.


There are also a couple things you should try to avoid bringing like expensive valuables and – clichéd as it sounds – a bad attitude.

#8 It’s Not Cool To Hog The Bathroom

Hostel bathrooms are – surprise, surprise – also shared spaces. So you’ll want to be mindful of that when you’re using them. Generally, it’s best to keep all your toiletries in your locker or on your shelf as there’s a very good chance they’ll be used by your roommates if they’re kept out.

If you’re okay with that though, leaving shampoos, conditioners and soaps in the showers is usually acceptable. A toothbrush and toothpaste at the sink, a little less so. Also, important to note: though most hotels are equipped to run hot water for an extended period, be aware that may not be the case and keep your shower brief.


Check out these ridiculous hostel myths, while you’re on the topic.

(Lead image: Alexis Brown / Unsplash)

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