Hostel Apostles

Hostel Etiquette

Here at Hostel Apostles, our goal is to help debunk the myths surrounding hostels – their safety, their clientele, and the overall hostel experience. We want to frame hostels in the positive light in which they should be framed! Inevitably though, if you’re a seasoned hostel goer, you’ve probably had at least one crappy experience staying at a hostel, and there’s a good chance it wasn’t crappy because of the facility itself…

You meet tons of people from around the world while staying at hostels, which also means you’ll find people that are far less aware of their surroundings than others. Namely, that their surroundings are a dorm room that they are sharing (or supposed to be anyway) with others. Although rare, some people you’ll encounter on your travels just suck at staying in hostels, and you may end up being the unlucky person that ends up staying in the same dorm as them.

Being privy to a little bit of hostel etiquette will go a long way with your temporary roommates. Whether you’re new or experienced in the art of hosteling, below is a list of “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for staying in a hostel, so that you never end up being “that guy” that’s ruining the vibe in the dorm:

DON’T turn on the lights at 4am

I get it. The clubs in Berlin are basically open all night and you just stumbled back to your room. Or, the best price you could find on RyanAir was for the 6am flight at the secondary airport an hour outside of town (I’m looking at you, Paris-Vatry-Disney Airport). Whether it’s the start of your day or the end of your night, realize that turning on all the lights in a room where 5 other people are sleeping is not the best way to make friends with your bunkmates.

DO bring a headlamp

…and keep it handy by your pillow! This is the quickest solution to the previously-described lighting situation. Not only does it prevent you from being the person that ruins everyone else’s beauty sleep, it also allows you to also read a book after someone else has already called it a night.

"Horserace" on a London rooftop...there's a reason that bottle of liquor is empty.

“Horserace” on a London rooftop…there’s a reason that bottle of liquor is empty…

DON’T be antisocial

You’re the one that decided to stay in a hostel, so don’t be the Grumpy Gus sitting alone at breakfast and glaring at anyone that tries to sit down next to you. Hosteling is all about meeting and bonding with your fellow traveler, whether it’s in the common area in the afternoon, or on the rooftop during a rousing game of “horserace.”

DO introduce yourself

Some people are just shy. It is TOTALLY okay to approach someone in a hostel for a simple introduction or a friendly conversation…except at night when that person is asleep in their bunk. That’s just creepy…

DON’T hook up with anyone in a multi-person dorm

…who am I kidding? You’re not going to listen to this. Sooooo…

ONLY hook up with someone in the dorm during off-hours

Is that a good compromise? You can’t spell “wanderlust” without “lust,” and the “I’ll never see this person again!” excuse might only hold true when you and everyone else around you is on the opposite side of the world in one capacity or another. “Off-hours” vary from location-to-location, but if you’re partying in a town where the nightlife doesn’t start until midnight, 12:30am (0:30) is probably your best bet for a quick romp.

DON’T leave your sh*t everywhere

Unless you’ve paid a bit extra to get your own private room, try to keep your stuff limited to your bed and locker space, and whatever you do, DO NOT throw your backpack on the bunk above you. Seriously, someone else is going to be sleeping there!! Have some respect, man!

DO be respectful of other people’s stuff and utilize the lockers

Like I said, respect the space of others, and they will usually do so in return. I have never had an issue with theft inside of a hostel, even with a backpack full of clothes lying out on the bed. As long as you’re sensible enough to lock up your valuables, you should never have a problem.

DON’T talk shit about someone’s home country

This should go without saying, but I’ve seen some of my fellow Americans get a bit too confident in their star-spangled banner-wavin’, bald eagle-soarin’, “Land of the Free” pride, which on the flip side has put me in the position of sometimes having to convince others that not all Americans are like that! Look, my country is great, your country is great; people are proud of where they’re from, and there’s something special about every country out there! Oh, and don’t just assume you know what someone’s home country is. Why? Have you ever mistaken a Canadian for someone from the States? Canucks DO NOT like that!

DO buy your new international crew a round of beers

…because a toast with new friends seems to be the global language at a hostel.

ALWAYS DO a round of beer or wine: the Academy Hostel crew in Florence, May 2010

ALWAYS DO a round of beer or wine: my Academy Hostel crew in Florence, May 2010

Got any other hosteling “do’s” and “don’ts”? Please share your thoughts on hostel etiquette in the comments below!


Chris Luecke

Chris Luecke is the Chief Travel Officer at Hostel Apostles and aspiring digital nomad. He lives in San Francisco, California, where he spends his time as a marketer and blogger in the tech and travel industries.

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