Hostel Rules and EtiquetteWhen staying at hostels, there are some unwritten rules which everybody should follow. Most of these hostel etiquette are common sense rules for a nice cohabitation and travel experience.

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:

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.

Lifelong friends at hostels

1. Rest-Pact

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

2. Your padlock, the key to your world

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.

Read: Are hostels safe? Our best tips about safety at hostels.

Are Hostels safe? 5 Simple Rules and 1st-hand advice!

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.

The equipment at the hostel kitchen

Photo: kitchen at the 5 Star Hostel in Tartu, Hektor Design Hostel

4. A smile is always welcomed

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.

Not inspired? Read this funny story and have a laugh!

Read: +150 short travel stories in less than 30 seconds.

Beautiful Hostel Quote - 7.37 billion smiles and yours is my favorite

5. Silent mode (at least at night)

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.

How to Book Hostels Like a Pro? Use your phone!

Photo taken at Maverick City Lodge, the 5 Star Hostel in Budapest.

6. A note for Early/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.

That bring us to…

Cocomama Amsterdam is the first boutique hostel in Amsterdam - What is a Hostel?

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).

Out of battery? Just wait 30 seconds.

Your eyes will adjust to the light. Then, it will be easier to find your bed.

PRO TIP:  if you are the one who is sleeping, a mask can save you. We talk about it on #17.

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.

Smartbox at inBox Capsule Hotel Saint Petersburg

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

Hostel Rules written down

A love letter to the Gili Castle Team

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.

Leaving Guest Reviews at Maverick City Lodge

Photo taken at Maverick Hostel, one of the best hostels in Budapest, Hungary

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.

Sex in Hostels? Get a room!

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.

Cement and vintage touch at Memory Hostel Bathroom

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.

Join us on Instagram!

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:

  1. Follow the rules
  2. Laugh a lot and make friends
  3. Return the key to the reception when you leave (also your locker key)
  4. Don’t bring shady friends to the house
  5. Please: Clean up after yourself
  6. No food or drink in the bedrooms please
  7. we are not responsible for loss or damage of your stuff
  8. Check out time is 11AM
  9. Sheets are a must. When you leave, take your sheets in the laundry basket at the reception
  10. If you have food you do not intend to use, please leave it at the FREE food shelf.
  11. It is not allowed to use drug in or around the hostel
  12. For unjustified use of fire extinguisher, we charge at least a fine of 500€
  13. Please do not make to much noise between 11PM and 7AM, think about other guests
  14. Common room closes at 2AM
  15. If you need anything, ask us!

Hostel Rules for private rooms

Hostel Rules and Family Rules

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…

15. Be friendly, my friend

Just as Bruce Lee says that you must be shapeless like water…

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.

Making friends at Cucuruchos Boutique Hostel

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!

Hostel Book Exchange - we left a book at WE Hostel Bologna, and signed it. Who knows, maybe it returns one day?

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.

Snorers neither.

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

Design Hostel with comfy bunk beds in Hanoi, NEXY Hostel

Photo: 5 Star Hostel Nexy Hostel, one of the top hostels in Hanoi, Vietnam

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.

Sharing is caring at Ani&Haakien

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.

No prostitutes at hostels...

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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Hostel Rules and Etiquette
Hostel Rules and Etiquette
Hostel etiquette: the unwritten hostel rules