Dorm Room vs Private Room in a Hostel

Written by: Chris Richardson

Hostels are known for their dorm room accommodation. Where anywhere from 4 to around 16 or more people all sleep in one room full of bunk beds. It’s a cheap and convenient way to travel and meet other like-minded people simultaneously. But did you know you can also get a private room in a hostel where you don’t have to share with the masses? But what do you pick, a dorm room or a private room when staying in a hostel?

Hostel Room Types

Hostels have got very creative these days with the array of room types they now offer. There are pods or capsules, themed rooms, converted prisons and other more tropical options like huts and hammocks. But the most common room types among the majority would be either a hostel dorm room or a hostel private room.

A Dorm Room in a Hostel

Nothing says backpacking like staying in a hostel dorm room. A mix of other travellers from around the world all gathered together, sharing the space in a mishmash of organised chaos.

A dorm room is usually just one (often small) room filled with bunk beds. Some hostels will fancy up the space or have a shared shower within the room for you to use. The majority are just rooms and beds.

At the heart of it, their purpose is to provide cheap accommodation.

When you book to stay in a hostel dorm room, you are reserving one bed in the room. You won’t be picking a bottom or top bunk. Nor will you be able to book a window view (if the room even has a window). All of that will be determined by how many spare beds are left in the room once you arrive. If you are the last to book that room then you’ll get what’s empty.

Each bed will traditionally have a reading light and a power output for you to use nearby, along with a locker to store your belongings in.

A dorm room in a hostel is best picked by those solo travelling so you can meet others more easily. If you are looking to travel cheap or just wish to enjoy everything staying in a hostel has to offer.

Be aware hostel dorm rooms are by default mixed rooms. Where both male and female travellers share the same room. However, many hostels also offer female-only dorm rooms too.

A Private Room in a Hostel

A private room in a hostel affords you luxuries at a higher premium. You are still staying in a hostel, but instead of booking a bed in a room, you book the entire room. While it won’t quite be up to hotel standard, it’s a great middle ground. And hostels are adding more and more value to their offerings. Many are pivoting to a more boutique offering while keeping a traditional hostel feel.

Not all private room options come with a private shower either so keep in mind you are only getting the room to call your own, and everything else about hostel life is the same.

Private hostel rooms tend to be booked per couple (two single or one double bed), but you’ll also find four-person private rooms that cater to groups or families travelling with smaller children. Yes, families can stay in hostels as well.

Private rooms are great for couples travelling together as the split cost often works out better and allows you a bit more privacy for yourselves. They are also perfect if you find you’d just like a little bit more privacy for a day or two if you’ve been travelling for a while. There’s something to be said about going to bed and not having to hear others snore or move about late at night.

Dorm Room vs Private Room

When planning to book a room at a hostel, don’t let the fear of sharing with others push you into a private room. I’ve always booked a regular mixed dorm room myself, and as a guy, that’s easy to say. But I’ve never felt weird sharing with others or seen people act awkwardly towards other girls or guys in the rooms.

There’s something about being on the road travelling that opens you up to want to share with others and make new friends. And sharing a room with like-minded people will do that instantly.

On the flip side, I’ve also booked a few private rooms when I needed space and downtime for a few days. I have primarily travelled solo but also been on the road with a partner and it’s nice to just have that experience together as well.

No matter what hostel room type you go for next time you book a hostel, just be sure to involve yourself in the common room and with group events or nights out. The best part of hostel life is meeting others and having fun.