Hostels from A to Z - All you need to know about HostelsThere can be a lot of misinterpretation and misperception about hostels, especially when you haven’t personally seen or been into one. That is why we thought of doing an A-Z list of describing a hostel and to give you a whole different idea of what a hostel really is.

In this review, we will share with you 26 creative descriptions of a hostel enumerated from the English alphabet A-Z.

This article is part of our big guide to hostels. You can find all articles about hostels here. You can find all best hostels in the world here.

We hope we can clear your doubts and answer your questions regarding hostels through this blog. We do not force you to change your mind immediately but we will try our best to give you a wonderful perspective of hostels.

Completely new to hostels? then you need to read our 101 Basic Guide to Hostels here and definitely make sure you understand What is a Hostel? (12 definitions to help you out).

Nevertheless, our goal is to show you that hostels are also worth trying. And we will be very delighted if you try one yourself on your next trip or in the near future. We would love to hear about your experience(s), too.

So let’s cut to the chase and see what awaits in this article.

Hostels from A-Z

Here are 26 descriptions of a hostel from A-Z.

A

Atmosphere and Activities

A hostel is an active place to meet new people from all over the world and to share experiences. This is what makes the difference compared to other accommodation types.

They often offer daily activities and even workshops that people can engage in. Thus, creating a very active atmosphere.

B

Backpacking (and Booking)

Backpacking and Hostels go hand in hand. Backpacking also means to carry your belongings on the back.

Your whole life on the road fits into one backpack and hostels are the place to unpack and get comfortable again.

Here’s a handy list of What NOT to Pack to Stay at a Hostel.

Booking

Booking your hostel is almost science. Well, not really. It is so easy nowadays with websites like Hostelworld and Booking.com.

For saving some money (like we all like to do!), we recommend Hostelz.com

The platform simply compares the prices on Hostelworld and Booking.com. Just by using this website, you can save good money each night. And this adds up.

Read: 15 tips for booking hostels

Viajero Tayrona Hostel & Ecohabs is a 5 star hostel in Tayrona National Park, Colombia

C

Common Area

The common area is the heart of every hostel.

This can be anything from a simple living room to an outstanding rooftop terrace. Every great hostel has a common area to socialize and meet. And there’s a great chance to meet your next new friend in this part of the hostel or maybe, your next love story.

Sunset Destination Hostel in Lisbon, Portugal has a rooftop swimming pool in their common area…!

D

Dorm

D stands for dorms: your sleeping area when traveling on a budget around the globe. There are all types of dorms, starting from 2-bed dorms (very rare though) up to unlimited numbers of beds in a dorm.

The most common and usually most expensive dorm room is the 4-bed dorm type.

You can also find female-only dorms in many cool hostels like The Passenger Hostel in Porto, for instance.

Why Female Dorms? We offer 7 pros and 3 cons.

Last but not least, the quality of a dorm differs a lot. You can get the unbelievable luxury of a solid, wooden bunk bed with privacy curtains and own light and power socket. On the other hand, you can also sleep in a super-squeaky metal-framed bunk bed that feels like it’s breaking into pieces every second.

When choosing your hostel, make sure you see a photo of the dorm you are about to pick.

Read: Different room types in hostels – what fits your style?

Dorm Rooms at Rodamon Hostel

E

Events and Etiquette

Events are usually fantastic to join and engage in. Very common events and planned hostel activities are family-dinners, walking tours, pub crawls (to mention a few).

There are also very creative and rare events like sunset yoga, BBQs, cooking classes, or even volcano-tours. Make sure you keep an eye on the blackboard!

Furthermore, a good „strategy“ to make friends in hostels is being friendly. Say „Hi“ and be attentive.

For instance, avoid plastic bags when packing in a dorm. They are loud and annoying! When you really need to use an alarm clock, say good-bye to the „snooze“ function and get up as soon as your alarm goes off.

Basically, try and avoid the 22 Recipe for How to be the Worst Hostel Guest Ever.

Sex in dorms is another thing you should avoid if possible.

Read: Sex in Hostels? 10 Do’s and Dont’s to remember

A hostel is a place where you have to share your space and time and that deserves respect. This means some basic rules where everybody can enjoy the time are a good idea.

F

Friends (and Family)

One special thing about hostels is your chance to meet new friends and be with your friends/family in a room since hostels are more about room sharing.

So expect to win new acquaintances during your hostel stay. Whether you’re traveling solo or traveling with companions or friends, the hostel’s ambiance and setting will surely give you a chance to connect with other travelers and guests.

Read: How to make life-time friends while staying in Hostels

Hostel friends for life

G

Guides

The majority of the hostels you can find has guides to offer during your stay. This can either be paid or free depending on the hostel policies.

These guides can be in many forms. It can be a walk tour guide, a food tour guide, or even a pub crawl guide. There are so many guides each hostel can offer.

And sometimes, hostels even give free maps and brochures to its guests to help you out with the neighborhood. Sharing with you their personal tips from places to go and foods to try.

Just ask at the front desk for more information.

H

Home (and Hostelgeeks)

Of course, let’s not go further. H is definitely for Hostelgeeks, your very partner in finding the best hostels across the globe. We are a group of travelers that are very happy to serve and share with you the best quality hostels that suit every kind of traveler. Not to mention the great deals we have for you.

As an addition, H also stands for home. Where the hostel’s ambiance provides a very homely feel to your stay like cooking your own preferred food in the kitchen.

Read: How safe are hostels? 13 safety tips

Best Backpackers in Cape Town - a fun hostel

I

Inspiration (+ Insurance)

In our years of experience in traveling and dealing with hostels, we have come across so many lovely and inspiring ones we’ve lost count. Hostels that did not only catch our eye, but also our hearts.

Moreover, knowing the hostels’ history and evolution gives you insight and inspiration regarding their hard work and dedication in providing outstanding service in the field of accommodation and travel.

Besides, there are also hostels that promote very inspiring advocacies like using earth-friendly materials or growing their own green produce in a hostel garden.

Read: 13 creative hostel design ideas

J

Jokes

When staying in hostels you will pick up on a lot of different traditions and cultural habits – and jokes from all parts of the globe.

We have met so many crazy, fun people in hostels, and even some with a sarcasm-level off the roof. One guy explained, he loves to freak out his hostel mates to break the ice. He goes near them, sniffs them, and says „you smell different when you are awake“.

Okay, that IS creepy and that can go two directions:

  1. You just made a friend that is as crazy as you, OR
  2. You are labeled as the „weird guy“ for the rest of your stay.

Each place, each time, and each experience is different. Good luck!

Playtime Crown is one of the fun things to do in Melbourne, Australia

K

Kitchen

Especially in expensive destinations like North Europe, Switzerland, New York City, etc, a self-catering kitchen is gold and perfect to save some travel money.

Instead of eating out for 20$ a pop, you can just cook up your own meal and save valuable money. The kitchen is also an amazing place to meet people and even cook together.

We have learned quite a lot about food in hostel kitchens. Do not be shy and ask when you are curious about the dish that a guy or girl just cooked. Because that can be your next step to learning new recipes from different cultures.

But of course, do not be that weirdo that sticks in your pre-licked spoon into the freshly-made pasta… just don’t.

Learn how to cook in Brooklyn Kitchen

L

Laundry

Unless you have packed unlimited clothing or don’t mind smelling, you need to do your laundry. Every hostel in the world has a laundry machine or at least they know where you can do your laundry.

Many cool hostels offer the laundry service, too. Usually, you pay just a tiny bit more and they do the work for you. And that can be a sweet deal especially when you are in town only for a very limited time.

And remember, lesser packed clothes means lesser baggage fees. Plus, lighter travel.

M

Music

Yes to music!

Another thing you will love about hostels is their taste in music. Each hostel has its own personality and taste which also reflects their music and hostel features.

There are hostels that have bar features where musical entertainment is available. There are also some that have music studios where guests can use musical instruments and play with other hostel guests.

So if you’re a music lover, you will fall in love with these hostels.

COMBO Hostel in Venice, Italy, for example, offers a vintage bar & live music for the soul.

Live music! Every Thursday the We Crociferi organizes a different event

N

Netiquette

Netiquette is a combined word for internet and etiquette which means „Internet Etiquette“. It is a code of polite behavior in the internet world. We recommend reading our guide on hostel etiquette.

This applies to your transactions and communications online to your hostel’s contacts, especially during the booking process. Even if it’s not personal, showing netiquette is a sign of good morals and character. Plus, you receive the same treatment with what you give.

Read: our full guide on hostel netiquette here.

O

OMG! That is a hostel?!

If you think hostels are dirty and unsafe, get ready to see the 5 Star Hostels.

There are some incredibly beautiful hostels all over the world. From Cave Hostels, Island Hostels, Boutique Hostels to pure luxury – there is some serious luxury on a budget waiting.

Once you have stayed in the best hostels in the world, you may even feel sorry for the ones fearing hostels and spending 2x more for a hotel room.

Read: the World’s Best Design Hostels with a wow-factor

And yes, the photo below is an actual hostel. It shows KosOne Hostel, the 5 Star Hostel in Canggu, Bali.

The 3 Best Hostels in Canggu, Indonesia

P

Privacy and Private Rooms (and Party)

Many, if not most hostels nowadays offer private rooms. Perfect for social couples that want to combine the fun of a hostel and the privacy of a private room.

Thanks to pod-style dorms and curtains for every bunk-bed, even shared rooms got a bit more private. It can help you to sleep more comfortably, for sure.

Aside from that, each bed also comes with a personal light and socket so you have everything you need in your space.

Note: Keep an eye on the dorm-photos to see if the hostel of your choice already upgraded the dormitories.

Read: Best Hostels for Couples – what you need to know

Party

There is no need to pretend hostels are only calm, easy-going, chill. NOPE! There are a lots of epic party hostels out there. If this is what you want, then oh boy, you will have an awesome time. If you by accident book a party hostel but you are not a party-person, good luck!

Read: Best Party Hostels in the World

Loki Del Mar is one of the best party hostels in the world

Q

Questions

Whatever question you might have, a top hostel tells you the answer before you’ve even asked. It can even start with your confirmation email, sending you safety tips, how to get to the hostel for the cheapest price, and more.

Never be too shy to ask the staff your questions. A top hostel is happy to help even if it’s a question they’ve never heard before.

Read: Hostels vs Hotels – this answers many questions regarding the differences.

Nevertheless, bad ones, on the other hand, do not even bother. Once we asked the hostel staff if there is any supermarket nearby, we doubt he never heard that question before. After mumbling and not sure what to respond, they sent us to a very expensive supermarket far away.

Guess what? There was a regular one just around the corner. Thanks for nothing.

Helpful: 46 Tips to Identify FANTASTIC Hostels

The Passenger Hostel Crew

R

Reputable and Rare

Hostels can be very different from hotels but they are also reputable accommodations that provide exemplary service to tourists and travelers.

You may think of bad images of hostels since they’re cheaper than hotels, but you’ve got the concept all wrong. Hostels are becoming more and more available to the tourism market because of its good reputation in the industry.

We would also add „rare“ for R since hostels can be unique and rare. You will be able to find hostels that have rare features and characteristics that you won’t be able to find anywhere else.

S

Social

Social, obviously. A hostel is a place to meet, mingle, chat, share. As we have mentioned in the earlier parts of this article, hostels are very social and friendly which gives you more opportunity to interact with other travelers.

Aside from the common areas where people can interact, hostels also offer social activities you can engage in.

If you are not up for it, a hostel is not your place to be.

Read: 7 different types of hostels

Rocking J's is one of the best party hostels in the world

T

Team

A big and crucial part if a hostel wins or not: The team behind.

Even the most simple hostel in the world can be outstanding and famous for the amazing staff. Go with a hostel with great ratings for the staff, you will notice the difference.

Besides, friendly and accommodating staff makes us more feel at home and more relaxed.

U

Unique Tours

Many hostels offer their own tours. If you have spare time, join them!

Usually, they are the same price as a different guided tour or even cheaper. They come with the luxury of joining a tour with your hostel buddies. Therefore, a hostel offering fun tours always wins.

Proof of onward Travelers with onward Ticket - finally made it to Colombia!

V

Value

Some people may misinterpret hostels especially when if they haven’t been to one. Hostels are not dirty and awful accommodations, but rather your beautiful yet affordable properties.

They are also of value just like hotels. Not to mention the 5 star hostels that are renowned in the tourism industry all over the world. All at lower deals compared to luxury hotels.

W

WiFi

Always WiFi ready!

Generally, hostels offer free WiFi access all throughout the property. However, there can be some that can be used only in a particular part of the hostel such as the common area. And there can be some that even offer a mobile phone you can use outside the hostel.

It really depends on the hostel policy. You can always check this out prior to your booking.

X

Xenodochial and Xperience

X is a tough one, right!? But we have a word for that – Xenodochial which means friendly to strangers or hospitable.

Having a place to stay and relax on offer, hostels are very inviting and welcoming to all of their guests from all parts of the world. Whether it’s your first time or your tenth time, hostels are very hospitable.

And to push with the „X“, we choose „xperience“. It is no coincidence that many hostel reviews read „best hostel I have ever been to“ and „wish I would have stayed longer“. Great Hostels have a huge impact on your overall travel experience.

So choosing your hostels wisely will increase your overall travel experience, no doubt!

Blue Trailz Hostel & Surf Camp is one of the best hostels in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Y

Yes (and Yourself)

When staying in a hostel, it can happen that you are tired from the day. While you just fell into your bed, looking for an early night in, the hostel crowd invites you to a drink.

And surprisingly, you will end up saying Yes more than No and it usually comes with fun nights out and lasting memories.

Stay open; the sleeping part is the most boring part of staying in a hostel. Because all the adventure happens when you’re awake.

Z

Zesty

Just like we mentioned in Letter S with hostels being social, we can also describe hostels as zesty or full of energy. Staff are always accommodating and helpful which adds more of a personal touch to hostels. And hostel features plus daily activities are very active and engaging.

Aside from keeping people entertained and bonded, it also brings out the liveliness in each guest which makes the hostel full of energy and positive vibes.

Over to you: What is a hostel for you?

In this fun little guide we wanted to share some inspirational views about hostels. How do you see hostels? Why do you choose to stay in Hostels? And why do you choose NOT to stay in hostels?

We would love to hear your point of view here.

Drop a comment below!

Now all that’s left to do is check out our Smartest Hostel Packing List and, well, get packing!

Safe travels,
The Hostelgeeks

Hostels from A to Z - All you need to know about Hostels