Hostels are a backpacker’s best friend. They’re affordable, they’re pretty social, and they can be a great way to get introduced to a new city or country.
Way back when, hostels were all about shared dormitories, and that was about it. But today’s hostel rooms come in all shapes and sizes, with a variety of room types to suit a whole bunch of different travellers.
This is our quick browse guide that will fill you in about each type of room, so you know which is best for you. Check it out!
Types of Hostel Rooms
From well-known worldwide styles to the more unique and specific, these are all the different types of hostel rooms you can find.
Most often referred to as ‘dorms’, these shared sleeping arrangements are the reason why hostels are so cheap. You share a room of varying size with other guests. Sometimes there are bunks, sometimes there are single beds, sometimes there are even triple bunks. They can be huge – rooms of 20+ beds aren’t that unusual – or they can be fairly intimate, with three beds to a room.
If you are looking for the most dirt cheap option, dormitories are the way to go.
The Bathroom Situation
Another reason why dorms are sometimes the cheapest option – a lack of ensuite bathrooms.
Yes, you’ll often be padding out of the room and down the corridor to the nearest bathroom or shower room (remember to put some clothes on beforehand). But that’s not always the case. Ensuite dorms are fairly common, though it’s not often you’ll find a dorm bathroom with an attached shower. Usually it’s just a toilet and a sink.
Dorm rooms at hostels are notorious for their bunk beds. And let me tell you from experience that not every bunk bed is created equally – far from it. Bunks can be downright awful, or they can be incredible.
Bunks at the lower end of the quality spectrum can be rickety, metal frame affairs with thin or tired mattresses. If you’re in the bottom bunk, expect squeaking as the person in the top bunk clambers up to their bed. They won’t have power sockets or reading lights, though some might.
The better bunks out there have privacy curtains, are sturdier, made of wood and solid. They’ll have shelves and other handy amenities for your bed-time needs. Sometimes, they’ll be pods…
Bunks have come up in the world. Nowadays, many hostel dorm rooms offer pods (like a ‘room’ at a capsule hotel). Spacious inside, and sometimes even with a semi-double or double mattress, these come complete with power sockets, little shelves for your stuff, and reading lights.
Almost like mini private rooms, these hostel dorm beds can be expensive compared to regular ol’ bunk beds. But for what you get – usually a lot more comfort than a bunk – they’re definitely worth it.
Psst! Heading to a hostel? Don’t forget to pack a padlock! It’s well worth having one so you can secure your locker and protect your stuff!
Dorms without Bunk Beds
These exist. But, as with bunks, hostel dorm rooms with non-bunk beds can range wildly in terms of quality and comfort. The plus side is that you don’t have to worry about who’s on the top or bottom bunk. The downside is that they don’t come with privacy curtains or many amenities to speak of.
These can be a unique experience, though. Hostels in warmer parts of the world (Gili Air, for example) have bamboo-crafted lodges with separate, standalone beds for its guests. Lodges like this are often open-air, and so come with mosquito nets (and privacy curtains) to keep your skin safe from bugs.
Female travelers rejoice. If you’re solo or hanging out with your girlfriends, you have the choice of staying in a female only space. These are ideal if you want to feel safe and need a little more privacy away from other guests, and feel more comfortable in the company of other females.
If you are travelling as a female solo traveller, it’s good to check reviews from other solo females who have stayed in the dorm before you. Even though a dorm isn’t mixed doesn’t mean it’s going to be sparklingly clean with top security. You will still need to keep an eye on your belongings and may have to put up with messy or noisy roommates.
Sometimes the female dorms consist of a whole floor and other times, the whole hostel is only for female travellers.
You might find that some hostels have dorms just for men. These are good for those who aren’t keen on mixed sleeping arrangements and just want somewhere to sleep. Mens dorm rooms won’t differ too much for a normal dorm, but they can be at the cheaper end of the scale.
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Dorm Room Etiquette
Sharing a space with other people means being considerate to other people. It’s as simple as that.
As much as you don’t want to be annoyed by somebody when you’re trying to get some shut-eye, nobody wants to be the idiot keeping everyone up by stumbling in drunk. Or, frantically packing their bags when they’re late for a flight, after failing to wake up to alarm that’s been going off for the past 30 minutes – Bitter? Me? Never.
Here are some tips for hostel etiquette that will make you a 5-star bunkmate.
- You should assume that sleep is important to people who have booked a dorm. Try to be as quiet as possible when super late or super early.
- Don’t leave a huge mess of your stuff all around your bed like you own the whole room. Try to be neat. We’ve seen enough cases where people stay in a dorm for one night and somehow their stuff has exploded all over the room.
- Don’t walk around in your underwear – especially if it’s a mixed dorm. Nobody wants to see you in your pants at 8 a.m. in the morning. If you need to get changed, head behind your privacy curtain or to the bathroom. Also, do not sleep naked. This is a definite no-no.
- If you’re a couple (or you’ve hooked up), get a room! That is not ok in a dorm full of people. We have so many horror stories about this, they have their own post!
You might be surprised to learn that hostels aren’t just about staying in a shared dorm with other people. In fact, a lot of hostels have the option to book yourself into a private room. This is great for those who want to have a quiet space to themselves but also enjoy the amenities that come with a hostel.
Ensuite or Shared Bathrooms
Just because you have booked a private room in a hostel, it doesn’t mean that you automatically have your own ensuite bathroom. Some hostels have private rooms that share a bathroom with the rest of the hostel.
If you’re looking for a private ensuite, be ready to fork out some extra bucks. For those keen to stick to a budget, it’s a good idea to opt for a shared bathroom.
Single Private Rooms
Solo travelers, this one is for you – behold the single private room.
A commodity among the backpacker crowd, single rooms are normally compact, low-budget alternatives to booking into a hotel. Bagging one of these means you don’t have to spend the night in a dorm room, but don’t need to fork out for a hotel room.
Beds can either be single beds or small doubles – you may even get a seating area, desk and your own window to gaze out onto the world.
Beware though: they can very easily be windowless boxes. Make sure you read reviews and descriptions carefully, or contact the hotel to ask.
Twin Hostel Private Room (can be bunkbeds)
For those of you who are travelling with a buddy and don’t want to cuddle up in a double bed, twin rooms are the answer. These rooms are ideal if you want to have some space for yourselves to chill out and unwind but also want to be social and enjoy hostel life.
Beds in twin rooms might still be in bunk form, so make sure you double check before you book. We don’t want any fights over the top bunk!
These are ideal if you’re catching an early flight or partying late into the night. You don’t have to disturb the whole dorm with bag packing and early morning alarms.
A double private room at a hostel is ideal for couples travelling the world together – or equally for solo backpackers who want a little more space and luxury in their hostel stay.
For a couple on the same budget, they can work out as a bargain! The price of two dorm beds can sometimes be higher than the nightly rate for a double room. It just makes sense if you’re really watching the pennies.
They’re not always luxurious. Like all hostel rooms, the quality varies. You may find yourself in something very basic (and therefore, very affordable), but you may luck out with a double room in a boutique hostel that feels like an actual hotel room.
These can be a steal, but the more stylish options out there can run into hotel prices. But if you’ve got the budget, and you’d prefer the social vibe of a hostel, why not?
Family rooms and private apartments are also an option at some hostels. These can be great for big groups or families and can sometimes come with full kitchens and lounges! Who said travelling as a group needs to be pricey?
Well, hopefully we’ve cleared things up you were wondering what kind of hostel rooms you can find these days.
If you’ve scrolled all the way day here looking for quick answers, just remember: it’s almost always more affordable to book a bed in a dorm. The bigger the dorm, the cheaper. If you’re travelling as a couple, a private room will be better value.
And most importantly, don’t be the one who puts other people off staying in a dorm room ever again!
While we are here, don’t forget Travel Insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of Travel Insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads, our favorite travel insurance provider.
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