A-Z on Hostels

Everything You Need To Know About Hostels (Backpackers)

Everything you need to know about hostels (backpackers)

Never been to a Hostel before, or its been a while since you been to one and your not sure what to expect. Don’t worry this article will give all the information necessary about hostels. I will give all the details to give you the confidence to book your next hostel. They are not scary as they might seem and for any traveler they are gold!

I’ve made a nice little list of things that I will cover in this article to save you time if you are looking for something

Not all Hostels are the same! Not all Hostels are creepy: Yha Prison Fremantle Australia

Other names for hostels

Hostel, Youth hostels, and Backpackers are all the same thing. Depending on where in the world you are, depending on what you call them. But I call them hostels as its less confusing. The word “Backpackers” can get confused with 2 or more people traveling too and Youth hostels can be misleading as normally it isn’t normally just for youths.

But If you want to know more about why hostels are called hostels You can have a look at this article from Stay At Base

Hostel Room Secret Garden Sydney

Average dorm room with lockers: Hostel Dorm Room Secret Garden Sydney

Rules and policies for hostels

Each Hostel Has different policies to follow, so make sure you check them out online before your book. The reasons why I say this is due to the fact some of the rules might not meet your needs. These are some policies that are likely to change from hostel to hostel;

  • Very rare do hostels have age limits, but some independent hostel may have cut off after 40 years old. But it is common for hostels to not allow children or under 18 (especially in dorm rooms).
  • Long stays are sometimes not allowed in certain hostels. 21-day max policies
  • Passport ID only to prove you are actually traveling are sometimes the case
  • No, Bring your own Alcohol, This is normally on hostels that have their own bars
  • Bring your own sheets (rare again)
  • Bring your own towel or pay to hire, this is common
  • Hiring/deposits for kitchen utensils
  • Key cards deposits
  • No smoking in the building
  • Check out times/ check-out times
  • Not allowed to be drunk on the premise
  • different check out times
Kitchen in Hostels YHA Fremantle

Don’t expect to find an oven: Kitchen in Hostel YHA Fremantle

What to expect to find in a hostel

If you have no clue what to expect to find in a hostel, just imagine a social hotel. There is a range of different rooms in a hostel but the list below is the common rooms in any hostel around the world!

Dorm rooms

This is the main difference between hotels and hostels, The fact hostels have dorm rooms. Dorm rooms have shared a room which is normally full of bunk beds, a number of plug sockets and lockers (make sure to pack your own lock, This lock is perfect and available on Amazon). The biggest issues with dorm rooms is the coming of going of people! If you are light sleeper before traveling you will learn quickly to sleep through the noise of people waking up and move about. The other issue is getting the best bed, For you lucky people I wrote a whole article on Which Bunk Is Better? How To Get The Best Bunk In A Hostel

Different types of dorm rooms

Female only, male only and mixed dorms

Normally range from 12 man-4 man rooms


The kitchen is hostels are shaped like everything else But the state of the kitchen is normally a key to hold nice the hostel is. Shithole kitchen, normally messy guests and the hostel staff not caring about the cleanliness of the hostel. Don’t be that guest who doesn’t wash and clean after yourself, make sure you dry your stuff and put it away where you found it. It’s not hard but It’s the most annoying thing in hostels if you’re staying there or working there.

Want to know to best ways to cook in a hostel, check out this article How to cook in a hostel – Stress-free

laundry rooms

Most hostels have a laundry room or somewhere to wash clothes, it’s normally coin operated. Normally quite cheap and the reception probably sells washing power or has some for free

Common room

If your looking for WIFI (If your hostel has it)  this is where it would normally be. Being a common area this is the place to read a book, go on your laptop or play foosball. This is the place where everyone socializes. It’s like a massive living room.

Job boards

Job boards, car boards, and information boards are key to traveling. These can help you out massively and give you some great deals.

Bag storage

Most let you drop your bag off and let you storage bags for some time after, but it really depends on the policy of the hostel. email ahead and ask.

Private rooms are sometimes available

Sometimes hostels have private rooms but the same as all the different size dorms this each hostel may have a different selection.

Showers and Toilets

These are shared like everything, But don’t worry I haven’t been in a hostel where the shower isn’t in a cubicle. I would always recommend having cheap flip flops for showing in as it can be grubby and dirty in some hostels and even in the clean ones better safe than sorry. Get some cheap flip flops on Amazon.

Australian Hostel room

Some hostels are nicer than others: Hostel 4 share dorm room Perth central backpackers

Different types of hostel

The main the thing you need to pay attention to when booking a is what type of hostel it is, You don’t want to go to a party hostel if you are just getting off the plane and vice versa you don’t want to go to the commuter hostel if you’re looking for a good time! Just a note even chain hostels can fall under different categories, Even if they try not too so take each hostel as separate.

How can you be sure the type of hostel before booking? The real answer you can’t you have to guess on the location and the reviews but more on this later.

Party hostel

Lively hostel, normally the place you go if you want to go out on the piss, this hostel might even be the place hosting the parties

Normally found: In the center of town. near the lively pubs and bars

Best suited for: For the party people. Best at weekends or when you don’t have to work

Worse suited for: people that want to work, sleep or like things clean

Added negatives or positives: not the cleanest hostels due it nature, always smells like drugs. But normally the cheapest hostel.


Commuter hostel

Easy to get to, People come and go. Don’t often have many social events on. This hostel is in a place you would pass through.

Normally found: Near trains stations and airports

Best suited for: people who are passing through, need a place to sleep.

Worse suited for: Wanting to make friends

Added negatives or positives: Late check-ins are easy at these hostels


Social hostel

The hostel, with a mix of long staying guests and short-term. Everyone seems to know everyone, events held but not really parties

normally found not far out of town but not near the lively parts of town

Best suited for long staying guest, people that have to work but like to play too

Worse suited for Party people, you would think these would go together well but Social hostel don’t like too many loud people as they try and keep a good mix

Added negatives or positives: Normally have a lot of events on.


Boring hostel

The hostel with no atmosphere, normally cheap. It’s trying to be one of the other 3 types but failing!

Normally found  Anywhere

Best suited for Newbies

Worse suited for Social people

Added negatives or positives  Nothing is going on, feels like a ghost town atmosphere.

Notice Board hostel

Notice boards are great for jobs, cars, and ideas: Fremantle Prison YHA


Differently themed hostels

Because the hostel industry is very competitive and always want to be the place to go some even have themes. For example, the hostel in Fremantle, Australia I worked in was an old Prison

After a bit of research, I came across this website from Hostel world  and they mention 99 unusual places to stay in 

Every hostel you go to will be different and this is a good and bad thing. Some hostels you will not want to leave and other you will want to get out right away!

Dorm Room hostel Secret Garden Sydney

Another day another Dorm Room: hostel Secret Garden Sydney

Where to book hostels

Booking hostels are now super easy, with apps and websites. But if your not fussy and heading out of season booking hostels might not even be necessary. Just rock up and see whats about it will keep you more flexible for travel. But If your a worrier or going in peak season here is a list of places to book form.

The first point of call is to go direct! the commission that booking websites take, mean going by them will cost you more.

Examples https://www.yha.org.uk  for UK YHA

https://www.yha.com.au/ for AU bookings

It’s a little cheeky you might be able to use one of the booking sources below then look at booking directly after finding the place you like.

The Secret Garden Sydney hostel

Some have more space than others: The Secret Garden Sydney hostel

Check the reviews of hostels

This is one of the most important things to do before going to any hostel.

Look on the site, see how many reviews it has and how many stars, look for blogs on them. Do some research it will take 3 minutes max but could save you a good night’s sleep.

Looking into the reviews you can quickly work out the type of hostel, then you can make sure you’re going to the right type of hostel for you.

Remember to leave reviews on good and bad hostels so others know what to expect.

The village Sydney hostel

Some are basic: The village Sydney hostel


Hostel events

Some hostels hold events on certain days of the week, this is something to look at when booking your hostel, as this would normally mean this hostel is trying to be a social hostel.

The events can range from free food, movie nights, free alcohol, pub crawl nights, party bus nights, free breakfast, beach day and lots more. These events are great if your new to an area and want to meet some new people!

Fremantle YHA Prison

Some push the boat out: Fremantle YHA Prison Fremantle WA

Prices of hostels

Hostel Prices can range massively between hostel to hostel and especially country to country. But one thing is normally true about hostels is the fact its one of the cheapest ways of traveling if you don’t count camping. I’ve seen prices in Australia range from $13 a night – $43 for a 12 man room.

The room price is normally the more people in the room the cheaper the bed. But a 12 man room can be more expensive than 4 man bed in another hostel but remember the rule, “12 man room in a good hostel is better than a 4 in a shit hostelSean Brett (travel expert)

Look at what the hostel includes before turning away at the price. Does the hostel have a good rating, free breakfast, and good events? Then it’s going to beat a hostel that doesn’t have any of them things!

The Hive Perth hostel notice board

Some are empty: The Hive Perth hostel notice board

The Struggles of hostels

As I am trying to keep this Article positive and promote the use of hostels, I not going to go into much about all the negatives that can occur with your in a hostel, If you would like to view them have a look at this Article. Where it talks about personal space and security The Struggles Of Hostels

A London Thameside hostel Locker

The average size of lockers: London Thameside hostel Locker

Thanks for reading

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