Are you a budget traveller looking to save money on your next backpacking trip? Do you love to cook quick and easy delicious meals? Do you know your way around a kitchen? Do you want to save money and avoid eating out all the time? If so, you may wonder if hostels have kitchens you can use.
The short answer is yes. Hostels provide kitchens, though their definition of a kitchen will vary greatly.
Kitchen Facilities in Hostels
When it comes to kitchens in a hostel, there is one thing to keep in mind. The quality of the kitchen.
Some hostels will come equipped with modern, well-maintained kitchens perfect for cooking. Others will have minimal kitchen setups. You should read the reviews before you book to know what kind of kitchen facilities you can expect during your stay.
Hostels with a simple kitchen offering may provide a stovetop, microwave, refrigerator, and pots and pans.
Hostels that offer a more established kitchen mean you’ll get an oven, an array of cutlery and utensils, some kitchen staples and a bigger working space to cook meals.
Usually, if there are kitchen facilities, cleaning supplies such as dish soap, sponges and drying towels are provided so you can wash up after you’ve cooked. It is always a good idea to check with the hostel if you need any particular items or if there are rules to follow before you go out and buy groceries.
No matter what type of kitchen your hostel offers, taking care of it while you are there is a must. Ensure all dishes are washed and put away before leaving the kitchen and clean up any spills or messes that may occur during cooking. Nothing is more annoying for the staff or others in the hostel than to walk into a mess you left behind after you were finished.
Nobody expects you to clean up right after cooking but keeping tidy as you cook and moving your mess to the side while you eat is greatly appreciated.
Benefits of Having a Kitchen in a Hostel
Having a kitchen in a hostel is a bonus for budget travellers. It allows you to save money by cooking your meals and thus not eating street food or takeaway all the time. With access to a kitchen, you can buy ingredients from local markets and stores and cook quick and easy dishes. You can also get creative and experiment with local foods and spices to give your meals an authentic feel.
Cooking in a hostel kitchen also allows you to save time and use leftovers or pre-cooked meals. It’s also a great way to socialise with other backpackers and make new friends. You can easily share ingredients, swap recipes, or even chat as you cook. Hostel kitchens often provide the perfect atmosphere for connecting with people from all over the world in a very relaxed way. Great for those too shy to start a conversation while sitting in the common room.
I’ve lost count of the laughs and friends I have made while hanging out in the kitchen with others sharing a meal. I’ve also eaten some dubious meals made by others, which adds to the experience of staying in hostels if you ask me. Not to mention makes for a great story to tell later on.
Tips for Cooking in a Hostel Kitchen
It’s important to remember that hostel kitchens don’t have the same amenities as the kitchen you have at home. Here are a few tips for making the most out of cooking in a hostel kitchen:
- Avoid peak cooking time: Breakfast and dinner are the busiest meal times in the hostel. If you can, try to cook around these times to have a more relaxed cooking experience. Maybe cook a little earlier or later at dinnertime, for example, or cook together with others.
- Buy cheap staples: It’s always a good idea to buy cheap staple foods like rice and pasta and bring them with you to make a meal, even if the hostel kitchen is empty. The key is quick and simple cooking that fills you up.
- Check the free food shelf: Many hostels have a food shelf where guests can leave food for others they don’t need anymore.
- Make one-pan meals: To make the most of limited cooking equipment, try cooking one-pan or one-pot meals like stir-fries and pasta. Not only are they easy to prepare, but they also require fewer dishes and are easily shared with others.
Keeping Your Food Safe When Staying in a Hostel
When staying in a hostel, it is important to keep your food stored safely. Make sure to store all food items in sealed containers or bags and keep them in a refrigerator or cool, dry place.
It is also a good idea to label any food items with your name and date so that other guests do not accidentally eat them, though a label isn’t always going to stop some people.
Shopping for Groceries on a Budget
When it comes to shopping for groceries, there are a few things you’ll want to consider.
Firstly, you’ll want to check what the local supermarket or grocery store offers. You’ll also want to consider what kind of food you’ll be able to cook with the kitchen facilities in the hostel. Don’t buy meat to cook on a BBQ, for example, if there is no grill or BBQ in the hostel.
Think about what kind of food storage options you’ll have. Can you keep food cold? Is there a freezer? Will I have enough room to store the food you’ve purchased?
Some hostels may provide containers for leftovers, but if not, look for reusable ones that can be used multiple times and won’t take up too much space in your backpack or suitcase.
Unless you plan to feed the entire hostel it’s better to visit the store every day or two so you don’t end up with too much food.
Preparing Meals with Limited Space and Equipment
Preparing meals in a hostel kitchen can be challenging, as they are usually small kitchen spaces to work in. Many hostels do not have ovens, so cooking a meal may require you to keep it simple. It’s also a good idea to avoid dirtying too many dishes if you can. There might not be an abundance of pots and pans, meaning the more you use, the less the next person has to work with until you wash up.
If you are cooking for multiple people or with others in the hostel, consider cooking foods that can be easily made in large volumes, like rice, noodles or pasta dishes. Pasta is an excellent option for large or small meals. All you need is some spaghetti and pasta sauce, and away you go.
How to Store Food While Staying at a Hostel
While staying at a hostel, knowing how best to store your food can be challenging. The good news is that most hostels have fridges (freezers, too, if you are lucky) and cupboards specifically for this purpose. If you need to store your meal in the fridge, put it in a plastic bag or food container and label it. Put your name and date on it, so if it’s forgotten, staff will know how long it’s been there.
If you need to store your food in a cupboard, seal it tightly and away from any heat sources. Additionally, if your hostel has a designated pantry, take advantage of it to store any ingredients or snacks you may have in a labelled bag.
If you can, don’t keep your food in your bag in your dorm room. I know you may be concerned about others stealing it, but keeping food out of your bedroom is best.
The Social Benefits of Sharing Meals with Others
One of the most rewarding experiences is sharing the kitchen and meals with fellow travellers. Hostels are social places, and the kitchen is often the heart of the hostel, making it a great way to make friends.
Eating together can help you create lasting friendships, enrich your stay in the hostel, and learn more about the destination. You can also save a ton of money on food costs by sharing ingredients and preparing meals for a fraction of the price of eating out.
Family-run hostels usually cook once a week for all guests as a group event. These events are a lot of fun, and the food is almost always delicious. I stayed at a beautiful hostel in Italy and had one of the best pasta meals of my life.
Cleaning Up After Yourself
Don’t leave anything unwashed. Even if you go through the motions of cleaning up after yourself, it is important to ensure everything is put away and all surfaces are wiped down.
Hostels are generally clean, but it is still your responsibility to ensure that the kitchen is hygienic and safe once you are finished with it.
This means washing dishes, wiping down counters and cleaning up any spills. It may seem like a chore, but it’s good etiquette to ensure that the kitchen remains an enjoyable and safe space for everyone.
Rules Around Using the Kitchen
Yes, most hostels have kitchen facilities of some kind, and that also means knowing the rules around using them.
All hostels will require you to clean up and label your food. It’s also good to be mindful of other travellers. Don’t take up too much space or leave a mess behind.
Also, check with the hostel staff if there are any rules around using the kitchen, such as no food preparation after a specific time of day, use of specific kitchen equipment or cooking specific foods. This might mean no midnight meals so as not to wake up others.
Respect the Kitchen
The kitchen is an essential amenity to any hostel. It encourages travellers to save money by providing the necessary tools and facilities to cook their meals. In addition to that, it offers a great communal space for everyone to gather in.
Whether looking for a way to save money, enjoy the social side of cooking with others, or just a convenient way to make a quick meal, having a kitchen in a hostel can be a great asset. If you are conscious of others, follow the rules, and clean up after yourself, you can make the most out of the facilities on offer.