Are you planning a weekend getaway or perhaps your first big backpacker adventure but want to know what bathroom facilities are offered in hostels before you book? You may be wondering if hostels have showers and what types of showers are provided.
The good news is you’ll always find a shower at your hostel. No matter if you booked a private room or a shared dorm room. What might vary from hostel to hostel is the type of hostel bathroom on offer to you.
Hostel showers come in all shapes and sizes, and I mean that quite literally. Some dorm rooms have a private en suite bathroom with a shower, while others have shared or communal facilities with several shower stalls all in one room.
Shared facilities are usually located down the hall from your dorm rooms or located per floor of the hostel and consist of an open-plan shower area with several cubicles and lockable doors, much as you’d expect at caravan parks and schools.
The size of these bathrooms in hostels varies greatly. The newer the hostel, the larger the space. The older the building, or if it’s been converted from something else, you may find the bathrooms and showers spread out all over the place in smaller rooms.
Most hostels (especially smaller ones) operate unisex showers as there isn’t room to accommodate multiple single-sex shower areas, so all genders use the same bathroom.
Hostel showers are usually cleaned daily, but it’s still important to practice good hygiene. Hot water and water pressure are also what I’d call optional in most hostel showers, based on my experience.
Types of Shower Facilities at Hostels
Regarding showering in hostels, there are a few different showers offered.
The most common type of shower is a shared bathroom with multiple showers and toilets. These are usually unisex but might be gender-specific in larger established hostels. They’re usually partitioned for privacy with lockable doors (sometimes just a shower curtain) and room to put your dry clothes to change once done.
Some hostel dorms or private rooms may have an ensuite bathroom, allowing you to share the bathroom with your roommates and not the entire hostel. This can be great for avoiding long shower queues but noisy if people get up early to shower.
Next are what I’d call the cupboard shower or corner shower. Where the hostel has retrofitted a shower into the corner or cupboard sized space of your shared dorm, there’s only room to shower, so you’ll get dry and dressed amongst everyone else. Trust me, these exist. My first-ever hostel had a cupboard shower in my dorm room. Now that was a hostel experience for my first day abroad.
Beyond that, you’ll experience a mix of versions of the above. Older hostels tend to be more unique (not always in a good way). I’ve even experienced college football open room showers where you’ll have no privacy at all and showers that didn’t work at all.
If you have a specific shower need or value your privacy it’s always best to check the hostel’s website or booking site beforehand to find out what shower facilities are available.
When to Take a Shower at a Hostel
When planning your stay at a hostel, it’s important to consider when you’ll take your shower. Depending on the size of the hostel and the number of people in it, you may want to avoid showering during peak hours as it can be very busy. Not to mention struggle for good water pressure and end up with cold showers.
I found it’s best to shower in the early morning or late evening when everyone is usually busy or asleep. For smaller hostels with fewer facilities, you may need to take your chances or shower later in the day.
After your first night in a hostel, you can usually tell when the shower room will be busy so you can plan out the rest of your stay with a little more certainty.
Tips for Taking a Shower at a Hostel
Taking a shower at a hostel can be a bit intimidating for first-timers, but with the right tips, you can ensure a relaxed showering experience.
First and foremost, it’s important to plan your shower time and not be shy about looking around before you shower. You’re checking what is and isn’t there, so you know what to bring with you, so you are prepared. The last thing you want is to be butt naked and realise you left something in your room or that the shower stall you chose doesn’t work.
Most hostels have their own rules about when you’re allowed to take a shower and for how long. Usually for around 10 minutes to be considerate to everyone and avoid long queues.
Always bring your toiletries, such as shampoo and soap, and your towel. Using your items ensures that you know exactly what you are washing with and who has used them. As much as grabbing the bottle of shower gel left behind in the shower is convenient, you’ve no idea who left it or how long it’s been there.
Some hostels will offer free towels or towels for hire but always have your own just in case.
This will seem daft but have a pair of shower flip flops (or thongs, as the Aussies call them) to put on your feet. Showers are full of funguses, viruses and bacteria that you do not want to pick up via your feet.
Along with your toiletry bag, bring a change of clothes with you to swap into after showering. A dirty clothes bag (not a plastic bag, those are evil noisy things) to stuff your old clothes into makes life easier. I lost my share of socks and clothes on the walk back to my hostel room, juggling everything.
Lastly, hang your wet towel in the designated drying area, if offered, so it can dry properly. Nobody loves the smell of a wet towel in the hostel dorms. Better yet, drop the towel into the dryer if your hostel offers dryers for guests to use.
Will There Be Hot Water in the Shower?
Hostel showers and the availability of hot water are always a bit of a guessing game. Will I have hot water today, or will it be a cold shower again? Fortunately, most hostels have hot water available in their showers all the time. However, with so many people staying in one hostel, hot water can run out, so do expect some lukewarm showers, especially during peak times.
To ensure that you get a hot shower, it is best to try and time your shower when the hostel is quiet, like early morning or evening. Also, it is worth asking the staff if they have any tips on when the best time would be to take a shower.
What About Cleanliness and Hygiene?
Cleanliness and hygiene are a priority for most hostels. You can be sure that showers are regularly cleaned and maintained by the cleaning staff but keep in mind this is a hostel full of backpackers and no hotel. If you want the cleanest shower, aim to use it after the cleaners have been through.
Hostels sometimes provide mops and buckets in the shower stall you can use to clean up excess water. And, of course, it’s always a good idea to bring your flip-flops or shower shoes to avoid any potential germs lurking on the floor.
A hostel bathroom isn’t going to be the most hygienic place despite the best intentions so the more you cater to yourself and be organised, the cleaner you’ll be.
Do All Rooms Have En-Suite Bathrooms or Shared Facilities?
The setup and availability of bathrooms will depend on the hostel. Generally speaking, most hostels either have a toilet and bathroom en-suite in the room or bathrooms down the hallway in a separate room.
Staying in a private room doesn’t always guarantee an in-room bathroom just for you, either. Hence why, when booking a hostel, you need to read the recent reviews on sites like Hostelworld and the full description to know exactly what you are getting yourself into.
In most cases, you will have to share the bathroom with other backpackers or guests at the hostel.
Concerned About Using A Hostel Shower?
When it comes to showers, hostels provide a variety of options, ranging from en suite bathrooms to shared communal showers. Every hostel is different, but once you’ve stayed in a couple of different ones you’ll know there’s no need to bring too much with you or worry.
Knowing the type of facilities available and bringing your toiletries can help make your experience less concerning and, thus, more enjoyable. Hot water and the overall setup may be limited in some hostels, so you should also plan accordingly if cold showers are not for you.
At the end of the day, we all need to shower.