Hostel Rules and Regulations

Written by: Chris Richardson

Hostel etiquette is mastering the balance between common sense rules that the hostel expects of you. And not being a jerk and respecting what you might call the unwritten rules that all backpackers and travellers abide by when staying in a hostel.

I like to think hostels operate between the strictness of hotels and the relaxed vibe of crashing at your mate’s house. You won’t pay a bond or have to put a credit card on file when you book in, but at the same time, if you break something or be unsociable to the people around you, action will be taken, and you’ll be kicked out in no time.

So how do you be a good guest and follow the rules?

Hostel Rules and Regulations to Follow

1. Don’t Be A Slob

This isn’t your parent’s house. When you stay at a hostel, you agree to treat it well and share a space with others. So keep your belongings in your locker or on your bed. Not all over the hostel rooms floor. Nobody loves the person that hogs all the power outlets in the room or hangs their clothes over the shared bunk beds.

At the same time, the common room and other hostel areas are for everyone to use. Don’t lay across the couch or spread out too much if it’s busy. Never leave the hostel with your stuff all over the place, thinking it will be fine. Pack away anything you own into your locker or place it on your bed.

2. Share The Bathroom

You might have gotten away with hour-long showers at home, but that will not fly in a hostel. You can guarantee a hostel has far more beds than bathrooms to shower in. So keep your shower as short as possible, and take your toiletry items and towel back to your room to hang up or pack away.

Every hostel is different of course, so you will find larger hostels have more facilities available. If you know the hostel is quiet, you have some wiggle room to squeeze in a longer time. Just don’t indulge too much.

3. Share The Kitchen

Travelling gets expensive, so using the hostel kitchen for cooking up quick, easy meals is a must, in my opinion. Cooking in a hostel is also a great way to meet others and make friends.

But if you make a mess, be sure to clean up after yourself. Nobody loves going into the kitchen to find a sink full of dirty dishes, especially the hostel staff, who usually have to clean it up.

Oh, and don’t eat other people’s food you find in the fridge, either. Put your name on your stuff and only use what you buy. If you have excess, offer it to someone else before you leave or throw it away, so it doesn’t stink up the fridge after you are gone.

4. Keep The Noise Down

We all know backpackers can be a bit noisy, but plenty of others like to get up early to explore and enjoy their sleep. Unless you have booked into a party hostel, you want to have some respect for the other travellers around you.

If you are coming home at 4am at night, be quiet when you enter the dorm room. We get you are most likely drunk and will struggle but try as best to commit that to your unconscious memory.

Otherwise, you’ll find those roommates you woke up at 3 am will be extra loud as they get up at 8 am the next morning to go out for the day.

Also, on the noise front, don’t use plastic bags to pack your stuff in. You do not understand how noisy they are at night when the room is quiet. And if you are a snorer or know that you snore, do your best to limit your impact on others.

And lastly, bring headphones if you want to watch movies or listen to music. While you might love that obscure band or movie, not everybody else wants to listen to it too on your mobile phone or computer.

5. Do Your Laundry

Travelling can be fun, and moving fast from place to place does not leave much time for essential things like laundry. But please wash your clothes now and then. We don’t all want to sleep in a room full of your odour. Being clean and smelling nice goes a long way with others.

Doing laundry in a hostel can be an experience without washing machines or dryers. You can get away with washing your underwear and socks in the bathroom sink and hanging it on your bed but don’t wash a bag full of clothes and try and dry them all over your dorm room.

If you are washing a lot, find the nearest laundromat if the hostel has no facilities onsite. The hostel staff can always direct you to the best place.

6. Don’t Steal

This is common sense but never steal from others at the hostel at any time. Not food, soap, money, phone chargers, nothing. I’ll repeat, it is never ok to take something that does not belong to you, no matter the situation. This goes for hostel property as well. The only thing you take with you is what you came with.

If you get caught, expect to be asked to vacate the hostel immediately and forfeit any refund on your stay.

On the flip side, never leave valuable items lying around the hostel premise. Put tablets and computers away in your locker and lock them with a padlock or ask for them to be kept in the hostel office if you are checking out but need a safe place to store them.

7. No Lights At Night

I’m sure there’s a hostel rule everywhere stating that those who turn the lights on late at night when everyone is asleep shall be kicked out of the hostel.

If you are coming into the room late because you checked in late or have been out at night, please don’t turn the main room light on. Use the light on your phone if you have to, or give your eyes 30 seconds to adjust after you enter before going to your bed.

Waking people up at night to find stuff or get into bed is the first unwritten rule of staying in hostels.

8. Plan Ahead

Will you be heading out early the next day to take a walking tour, explore or catch a train to your next destination? Then pack your bag the night before and leave out only what you need. This way, you can leave the room quickly and quietly so as not to annoy anybody.

If you are arriving late at night to check in, consider booking a private room for the first night and moving into a dorm the day after.

Alternatively, if you can’t swing the expense, grab out of your bag everything you need before entering your dorm room. This will allow you to make the least amount of noise before bed. You don’t want to make enemies of your roommates before you’ve even met them, do you?

9. No Sex In The Dorm Room

This should go without saying, but if you share a room with others, don’t plan to do the naughty with someone inside the hostel unless you’ve booked a private room. Nobody should have to hear you having sex in a hostel dorm room. I want to say it’s strictly prohibited, but in the end, it’s just an arrogant thing to do when you know others are in the same room as you.

10. Respect The Staff

Hostel staff have to put up with a lot. Many are backpackers like you who extend their stay and work there for cheap accommodation. Others are locals who love the atmosphere of what a hostel offers.

So don’t be an asshole. Always treat them kindly. They are a wealth of knowledge about the best places to eat and what is worth seeing in the area.

11. Be Friendly

Many hostels are full of people who love to do what you do, travel. Make friends, be friendly and join others in conversation. Some of the best friends I’ve made in life I met in a hostel at random.

People have come from all different directions, so you can get tips on the best things to do or see or stay in other cities you might be visiting. Some of the best things I did while backpacking around Europe were tips from other travellers who’d been to places before me.

A good hostel environment will make your stay and help you meet people and form lasting friendships long after your trip has finished.

Don’t Break The Hostel Rules

Make time to abide by the correct hostel etiquette. It might seem like these hostel rules and regulations are silly to you, but without them, your time in the hostel would be chaos.

Hostel rules exist to ensure everybody, no matter how they travel, gets the chance to enjoy their time in the hostel just as much as you do.