Wanna know hostel dormitories unwritten rules?
Here you have our advice for staying in hostels and be a good hostel buddy.
First time at Hostels? You might have plenty of doubts.
We collected many information about hostels:
- What is a Hostel?: 7 definitions and one final answer.
- Hostel room types: which one should you pick?
- 7 types of hostels: party, traditional, lifestyle… Get to know the different types of hostel
We even collected a full guide to hostels in Europe, with everything you need to know.
Going back to the subject we were talking, here you have.
Hostel Etiquette: the unwritten hostel rules
Okay, let us have a look on HOW NOT BE A TOTAL ASS when staying at hostels.
There are some rules regarding the dorms, the hostel showers and as well for the lights out.
If you are wondering about how to have sex in hostels, well, that is a huge topic.
We wrote up a special guide to how to have sex in hostels here.
Alright, let’s find out how we all can make life-time friendships at hostels – and how not to be an ass.
The number one unwritten rules for Hostels, and also life, is:
Basically, it implies these common sense rules for a nice coexistence.
Treat people as you would like to be treated,
keep the space as you would like to find it.
Just a quick summary of good hostel manners:
- be tidy and clean
- if it’s not yours, don’t take it
- don’t be round naked as you were alone
- don’t turn the lights unnecessary on the dorms
- don’t hang your washed clothes at the dorm
- don’t smash the doors
- do not use other dorm mates space (or things!)
- leave the common spaces at least as clean as you found them
Basically: Do not have like a douchebag! Emphasize and be kind!
2. Your padlock – your key to safety
Your padlock will be your major treasure.
It will be the key to your world, to your things.
When staying in a dorm, having your stuff on the lockers will keep them safe.
Many modern hostels also have super cool bunk beds with their own lockers inside your little capsule, so to say.
The photo below shows Casa Pepe in Mexico City. You see, the locker is big enough for your valuables, but not your luggage. Also bring a pad lock!
We always travel with two, small padlocks.
Read: Are hostels safe? Our best tips about safety at hostels.
3. Wanna cook?
The worst thing when you want to cook is…
… Not having any pot or space clean where you can start cooking!
Don’t be that person who uses all the kitchen pots and spaces and leave them just there to do the dishes later.
That may work at your place, but in a common kitchen others may also like to cook just after you, or even at the same time.
Use the pots you need and clean them directly. Leave everything tidy.
Photo: kitchen at the 5 Star Hostel in Tartu, Hektor Design Hostel
4. A smile goes a long way in a hostel
A good way to start to meet people is a simply smile.
You would be surprised how much it helps to start a conversation! I am sure you have many many things to speak about…
If not, no worries, good listeners are also very appreciated. Remember, a hostel is there to meet people, to mingle and have fun. Nobody likes negative nancies!
And certainly nobody wants to talk to someone complaining all day long.
Not inspired? Read this funny story and have a laugh!
Read: +150 short travel stories in less than 30 seconds.
5. Silent mode (at least at Night)
This actually goes without saying, but it seems like people need a reminder sometimes. Silent mode is a good idea! And not just for your cell phone.
Keep silence in Dorms
Common areas are meant to hang out, meet people, or have telephone conversations.
Use them and do not disturb your dorm mates.
Every hostel has different rules. Many hostels have the common area completely separated from the rooms.
Other hostels have them nearby; then it might be hard to hang out at midnight.
Our own story: We once stayed in a hostel where the common area is right in front of the dorms. At 8pm we were sitting there with new friends, chatting,having a drink when a fellow hostel mate came out of his room to complain.
He complained it was 8pm, we should “shut up”, go to bed or out etc. He was extremely rude. It was only 8pm, and not past midnight or anything. Even the receptionist told him all people can hang out here until 11pm.
Anyways, you see, some people take it to an extreme. Maybe this guy had a rough day, or maybe he should not stay at a hostel at all when he expects total silence at 8pm.
Photo taken at Maverick City Lodge, the 5 Star Hostel in Budapest.
6. A note for Early and Late birds
If you arrive at the hostel very late/ early, just prepare all the stuff you will need out of the dorm.
Like that, you won’t disturb your dorm mates.
There’s nothing more irritating that the unpacking noise of plastic bags while you are sleeping (or trying to get asleep).
Prepare for the next day, especially if you have to catch a flight in the morning. Do you want to take a shower before leaving? Then leave your towel and toiletry ready.
It is also recommend not to take a shower at 4am in the morning; in case the showers can be heard in the sleeping areas. If you have a super early flight, better take a shower the night before.
Also good to know: If you already know you’ll be arriving super late, consider staying in a private room. Late Check-In can even cost extra at some hostels. Plus, it can be extremely uncomfortable for you and all other guests if you arrive at 4am in the dorm.
That bring us to…
7. Hostel Etiquette: Lights
Keep the lights off in the dorms.
If you are arriving late, use a flashlight when entering the dorm (yes, you do have a torch in your cell phone).
Therefore, after a padlock and travel adapter, always bring a small flashlight for your key chain with you.
Out of battery? Just wait 30 seconds.
Your eyes will adjust to the light. Then, it will be easier to find your bed.
In the very rare case, you can also switch on the light in the middle of the night. But, really, only in the rest of situations. Before you accidentally jump in the bed of your fellow hostel mate, turn on the lights and make it over to your bed.
Always keep in mind: be respectful.
Photo: Capsule beds at Inbox Capsule Hotel, the 5 Star Hostel in St Petersburg.
8. Party Time! Outside the hostel, please …
If you wanna party and you are not staying at a party hostel, it is better to have a meeting point at the hostel.
Get a fixed meeting point in the common area so you can all introduce yourselves, and then move to somewhere else to party.
Actually, a lot of hostel typed accommodations already take care of this. They bring together the people at a certain time to head out to a bar or club. Keep your eyes open or ask at the reception.
Other guests would prefer to relax, so they would appreciate your kind consideration.
If you are in a party hostel, like Gili Castle on Gili Trawangan, Indonesia, the party must not go into the dorms. Dorms are the place to rest.
Parties will be held at the bar.
Respect other guests rest
Read: all the different 7 types of hostels here
9. Tag it! (Your food)
No…we are not talking about hashtags like #wanderlust and #friendsforlife!
Before putting your food at the fridge or shelves simply tag your food with your name and departure date.
With this small gesture, you will not just show which food is yours.
You will also help the hostel staff to maintain the food area clean and tidy.
Also, your travel mates could use that sauce that you did not finish in case they are curious about it once you left.
Usually, hostels leave post-its prepared next to the fridge. Use them! If there is no pen or anything to mark your food, ask the staff for help.
10. Don’t use the dorm as a porn set
Dorms are not the place to have sex…your dorm mates WILL hear you, definitely! Seriously, you know it, we know it, everybody knows it!
At least, if you are doing it with a small degree of skill, everybody will hear you.
There are private rooms in case you are thinking about having sex.
Just book the right room type before traveling. Or you can always adapt to the situation.
Room types? Yes, there are many types to choose from. Read our guide to different room types in hostels here.
You wanna know all the rules about Sex in Hostels? Have a look at our top tips and Dos and don’ts…
Wanna have a good laugh?
Read this sex hostel story from Barcelona.
11. The bathroom is not your SPA
The bathroom is a common area, not a personal spa.
I know it is difficult sometimes…bathrooms can be so beautiful!
Like the one on the photo below at Memory Hostel in Da Nang, Vietnam.
Take into consideration that there are some other travelers which may also need it.
We are not saying you should not enjoy your shower.
Just use common sense and don’t block the bathroom for the next 3 hours.
12. Be aware of your moods
Not an early morning person?
No worries, you are not alone. There are plenty of them around the world.
Just be aware about your routines and moods during the day (and night) so you can co-live better with other fellow-travelers.
Remember, you are at a hostel. It is easy to build life-long friendships here.
On the photo: Having dinner at The Common Room project, the 5 Star Hostel in Ho Chi Min, Vietnam.
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13. Regard hostel vibes, rules, and ambience
Hostels have written rules which must be respected.
Also, If the ambience is very chilly, don’t pretend to party.
Get an idea about the hostel guides and vibes you will find.
How? Easy, read other travelers’ comments about their stay and our 5 Star Hostel reviews.
Here are the hostel rules from Ani&Haakien Hostel in Rotterdam:
- Follow the rules
- Laugh a lot and make friends
- Return the key to the reception when you leave (also your locker key)
- Don’t bring shady friends to the house
- Please: Clean up after yourself
- No food or drink in the bedrooms please
- we are not responsible for loss or damage of your stuff
- Check out time is 11AM
- Sheets are a must. When you leave, take your sheets in the laundry basket at the reception
- If you have food you do not intend to use, please leave it at the FREE food shelf.
- It is not allowed to use drug in or around the hostel
- For unjustified use of fire extinguisher, we charge at least a fine of 500€
- Please do not make to much noise between 11PM and 7AM, think about other guests
- Common room closes at 2AM
- If you need anything, ask us!
On the photo: Family rules at the 5 Star Hostel in Bali Bread and Jam.
14. Don’t postpone the alarm every 5 minutes
Waking up with an alarm? It is ok, but…
Don’t postpone the alarm every 5 minutes if you don’t wanna get killed by a fellow hostel mate.
It is VERY annoying.
Just imagine everybody would do that?! It would be a huge mess…
Therefore: Yes, most people are okay for you to use your alarm clock. Come on, how else can you wake up to get flight, train etc?! But play fair and do not postpone a single time.
Oh, and please choose a gentle alarm sound. Nobody likes that sound from a horror movie…
15. Be friendly, my friend
Just as Bruce Lee says that you must be shapeless like water…
Okay, that sounds weird, maybe you got it already. We recommend you to be friendly at a hostel.
That will help you meet more people! A “Hello” goes a long way in a hostel. It all starts with a simple “hi“. It works in every language and breaks the ice right away.
The huge advantage about a hostel is the mindset of the people. Almost every person staying in a hostel knows it’s a shared space and are open to chat.
If you are an introvert person staying at a hostel, try to join the events organized by the hostel. This can be anything from family-dinner to walking tours. There it usually is easier to connect.
16. Book exchange? Great! We love it
Have you ever tried Book exchange?
Is the best way to be able to read during your trip and not carrying lot of books.
Plus, you can discover new authors.
Take a look at the books and in case you find any interesting book, swap it with yours. Easy!
A book exchange means you leave an old book of yours, and you take a new one with you. A book-swap really.
17. A mask and earplugs can save you from your worst night
Sleep in dorms is normally not a problem, as people respect each other. NORMALLY!
But we all heard about travelers who had met some disrespectful travelers.
Those people won’t let you have a sleep during night.
In that case, just be prepared. This is not really a hostel etiquette, but something you should really pack and bring with you.
Smart Tip: You can get a combo pack with ear plugs and and eye mask here.
Read: the ultimate hostel packing list with 23 things to pack
18. Sharing is caring
Leaving the hostel and have some stuff which you won’t need any more?
Share it with the other travel mates, they will appreciate it!
Hostels do normally have section where you can leave the food, or soap you still have for the other fellow travelers.
Ani&Haakien, the 5 Star Hostel in Rotterdam, even has a corner with odd items you want to leave for some other travelers.
Update: 19. No Prostitutes allowed
We found this sign at an accommodation…
Sometimes, rules make you wonder what happened. What exactly happened that the hostel has to put the rules in a written form? Pretty sure there must be some crazy stories behind.
Update: 20. Snorers of the world: Get a private room!
We get this question quite a lot:
“Should I stay in a dorm when I snore?” Is it okay to stay in a dorm when I know I snore?”
The answer is simple: NO!
Come on, please do not be that person that everyone hates the next morning.
We once stayed in an 8-bed dorm in Chiang Rai, Thailand. There was one guy snoring like the roof would fall off. Seriously, we have never heard that level of snoring.
It would have been impressive and funny, but truth be told, we could not sleep until 5am. We then decided to “wake up” and go out.
So, please, snorers of the world: Do not stay in a dorm! You will not make friends this way.
Summary of 18 unwritten hostel rules
See? Surely you could guess most of the unwritten rules, as they are common sense.
Nevertheless, summarizing them help to have a great idea of what to expect and be aware of the hostel etiquette.
Remember to read the hostel rules you are staying at.
Hostels have normally their rules written on the room doors.
You might expect to sing them during the check-in process also.
Here we collected 26 fun hostel games you can bring to make more friends!
Need more information about for staying in hostels? Then read:
Do you think we missed something? Comment it below so we can add it!
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