Play it cool and avoid being the hostel fool: the unwritten guidelines to hostel etiquette.
There is plenty of advice online about what to do and how to get by whilst staying in a hostel, however it's the what NOT to do which ultimately determines how great your stay away really is! Below we reveal the biggest hostel 'DON'TS' which you should try to avoid at all costs, as well as offering some top tips that will improve your experience even more so!
1. DON'T make a big entrance (or exit)
"Yes, you've heard me... I've left the building! I'm outta here! See ya! Byeeeee!" - someone no one wants to be friends with.
Phrases like "the party don't start till I walk in" and "better late than never" are all well and good when rocking up to a party or a friends house. However, these certainly don't apply when you arrive to your dorm room at 4am and wake the whole room up as you fumble around for the locker key you dropped on the floor. Late night hostel arrivals and departures are definitely not the right time for you to make your grand debut.
Loudly packing and unpacking your bags in a shared bedroom while others are sleeping is one of the single most annoying things someone can do, so if you're wanting to make a good impression we strongly advise that you keep the noise down!
Tip: prepare your bag and your things either in reception before you enter the dorm, or if you have an early start organise your suitcase the night before so everything is ready for a swift (and silent) exit.
2. DON'T be the kitchen cretin!
"Oh sorry, I thought that coconut milk on your shelf was for everyone to share!" - someone who is blatantly lying and everyone else within earshot knows it.
We know that almost everyone has been the culprit of this crime at least once in their lives. I mean really, who hasn't? While you can more or less get away with it at home or when living with a group of friends, it isn't the done thing here. What's mine is yours does not apply within the confines of the hostel kitchen, so please don't eat other peoples food unless they offer it to you!
The same level of respect goes for washing up yours dishes... leaving your cereal bowl on the sofa at home after watching three hours of netflix is one thing, but this time mum isn't going to be there to clean your mess up! While we're on the topic of kitchen etiquette, try not to take up all the fridge space if you can help it. Only buy what you need for the day and use common sense when storing things in common spaces.
Tip: if you really want to get on the good side of other travellers, why not offer to cook for them? Share your recipes and culture with the people around you for a much more sociable and rewarding experience. If you are in need of some inspiration, why not take a look at our list of quick and easy meals to cook in hostels during your travels !
3. DON'T turn the lights on when people are sleeping
"Guys has anyone seen my spare pair of socks?" - no. no one has seen your socks. and now no one likes you. congratulations.
Yes, this is why you will often find separate night lights by the beds in most hostel dorm rooms. They are not just there for some late night reading! Swinging the doors open at 5 in the morning and turning the lights on so you can find your toothbrush at the bottom of your bag is not the best idea.
Think about it, what if you had just fallen asleep after a full day of travelling and you're woken up to a bright light flooding the entire room. You wouldn't be too happy right? Yup, we thought so. If you do happen to have been unlucky enough to experience this, read our 10 tips on how to sleep better in a hostel in order to avoid a repeat!
Tip: be extra prepared and bring a headtorch with you on your travels, or even the torch on your phone will suffice. If you do need to find something in your bag when people are sleeping, these two options are considered a lot more appropriate and 'hostel-friendly'.
4. DON'T have an hour-long bubble bath or shower karaoke session
"Wake me up before you go-go" - yes we all like that song. we've all had a shower sing-along in the morning, just not in the hostel bathroom.
While we'll admit that a hot bubble bath, some candles and your favourite tunes is the perfect relax and relaxation set up, the hostel bathroom really isn't the time or place. Unfortunately your pamper session is going to have to be put on hold for another time, as it's more of a hop in, hop out kind of vibe. Try to limit your time in the bathroom, especially at peak times (typically between 8-10am and 7-9pm).
The same goes for singing in the shower - a guilty pleasure for most people (even if they don't admit it out loud). If you believe you have a voice like Beyoncé's, save it for the hostel jam session later on instead of waking up your roomies.
Tip: keep it clean! Flooding the bathroom after taking a shower is never a good look, and you'll be guaranteed to get a glare from the person who goes in after you.
5. DON'T get over-excited about the free breakfast
"Wow! Coffee! Cereal! All this food for me! Amazing!" - someone who seems as though they've been living under a rock their whole life. calm down, it's a bit of bread, not a michelin star truffle omelette.
It's no different to what you'd usually eat for breakfast, so just because it's included in your stay doesn't mean you suddenly need to eat ten slices of nutella toast and a box of cereal all in one go. By all means enjoy a nice breakfast on the hostel terrace while chatting to the other guests, but try not to finish all the milk if you can see it's running low.
Be polite and don't go overboard! If you do go up to refill your plate, why not ask the people around you if they want anything else also?
Tip: always be sure to clean up after yourself and if you want to go even further you can ask the hostel staff if they need any help putting things back in the kitchen after breakfast is finished.
6. DON'T crank up the volume when partying in the common areas late at night
"Please Don't Stop the Music!" - while Rihanna can get away with it, the same rules don't apply for you when drunk at the hostel bar after one too many fish bowls...
Yes, we know that a big part of hostel culture is the nightlife! From free sangria and pub crawls to discounted club tickets and boat parties... all of the above are pretty standard offers at most hostels, so obviously some degree of rowdiness is to be expected. If you consider yourself a party-person, we recommend staying in one of our top 10 party hostels in Europe and dance the night away to your heart's content!
We suggest having fun in moderation and pacing yourself when the shots start to be poured. Usually hostels implement quite strict 'silent hours' in common areas, starting from around 10:30-11 at night. People either leave the hostel around this time for a bar crawl and to enjoy a night out on the town, or for those who want to sleep and rest can do so without being disturbed.
Tip: make sure you have a big meal before the evenings festivities start to take place. You don't want to be the one who needs to be carried home at the end of the night, or the one who loses their room keys and has to knock on the door at 5am!
7. DON'T spend your whole time 'doing it for the gram'
"But first, let me take a selfie!" - someone who thinks they're an influencer when their only real fan is their mum. yes, we're looking at you.
While it's totally fine to spend time on your phone catching up with friends and family back home, hostels in general are places where most people stay in order to get to know like-minded travellers. Instead of spending all your time staring at the wifi signal bar and refreshing your Instagram to see how many likes you have, why not put the phone down for a bit and switch off from the world of social media.
If someone starts up a conversation with you in the dorm room and invites you down to the common area for a game of table tennis, don't dismiss it! Staying in a hostel is about exploring new places, meeting new people and living in the moment.
Tip: put your phone on charge next to your bed and check it every now and again, but try to be fully present and sociable when spending time in the common areas, making an effort to speak to the people around you.
8. DON'T be rude to the staff and expect them to be at your service 24/7
"Hi excuse me I didn't get a chocolate on my pillow this morning" - if this is you, then we suggest heading to the 5* hotel and spa resort down the road.
While in recent years hostels are really up and coming, boasting loads of cool new facilities such as roof terraces, swimming pools and great cuisine that rivals the standards of many hotels, they still work on a much more relaxed and informal basis. Don't believe us? Then check out our list of hostels with the best rooftops ever ! Hostel staff are usually volunteers, which means they are there for an enjoyable, fun experience and to meet new people, so please don't expect them to wait on you hand and foot.
Their job is to make sure everyone feels at home and welcome, while also ensuring that rules are followed and the hostel is always clean and everything is working as it should be. They also deserve to relax and chill out every once in a while. If you need something, don't ask the girl who's clearly on her day off sunbathing by the pool to go and fix the bathroom mirror!
Tip: head to reception if you have any problems, and always be friendly! :)
9. DON'T leave your things all over the place
"Mi casa es su casa, bro" - no. this is a hostel, not your home, so don't get too comfy!
While hostels generally pride themselves on offering a 'home away from home', there are obviously certain boundaries that shouldn't be crossed e.g. don't run around naked in the common room (or in any room for that matter). What you do in your own time is up to you, but please try to be relatively normal when staying in a hostel, for everyone's sake.
If you're in a shared dorm please bear in mind that it's not your bedroom, it's just your bed. By all means tip the entire contents of your suitcase onto your own bed should you feel the need, but don't let your mess spill out into the surrounding areas. Yes, this includes the floor and the bed of the person above you. While it's fine to hang your towel on the door or leave your toothbrush by the sink, it's not so fine when someone arrives to find your underwear on their pillow!
Tip: flip flops, a baggy t-shirt and shorts are hostel essentials. Wear flip flops instead of walking around bare foot, and please wear at least some form of clothing to bed (no matter how hot it may be!)
10. DON'T invite your 'new friend' back to the dorm after a night out! Really, DON'T!
"What happens on tour, stays on tour" - unless you get kicked out the hostel and have to call your parents to come pick you up... good luck explaining that one!
Love is always in the air when abroad, and if you don't manage to find at least one hostel sweetheart during your travels then we feel sorry for you, truly. While there's no harm in having some fun and letting loose on holiday, please don't take this fun to the shared dorm!
Yes, we didn't really want to have to mention this as it would seem quite an obvious one, but apparently in hostels it's one of the rules broken (or attempted to be) most often! Save yourself the embarrassment of having to pay a fine at check-out in front of your friends and remember that there's a time and place... your top bunk certainly isn't one of them!
Tip: if you're travelling as a couple, make the most of the many private rooms that hostels offer their guests nowadays. This way you get to enjoy the hostel lifestyle whilst also spending some romantic time alone every now and again...
If you enjoyed reading this article and want to learn more about how to live your best hostel life, then check out these articles to be even more prepared for your travels:
Now, if you're all clued up and consider yourself a true hostel expert, all that's left to do is book your stay through the booking panel below. Safe travels!