Tip: Hostel Etiquette

Courtesy of being disturbed by some bloody selfish Dutch people this morning (and one guy from Eastern Europe or Russia, judging by his accent), I stewed for a while and realised I’d had a few things happen in dorms over the course of this trip.

So, here’s a guide on how to behave when sharing accommodation with strangers. Most of it’s common sense and manners. Sadly, quite a few people seem to be lacking both.

1) If the light’s off and it’s night, the chances are people are sleeping. Get a headlamp or let your eyes adjust begfore going in. Don’t just barrel in and act as if you’re the only one there getting ready for bed or you may find that you wake up to find someone’s pooped in your rucksack. [ref: several times (the selfishness, not the poop), but most recently a guy in the dorm in Dili]

2) Just because you went to sleep at 9pm and wake up at 6:30am does not mean the other people in the dorm want to. Keep your conversation down or go out of the room. [ref: selfish Dutch people last night]

3) If you have an alarm set for the morning, don’t let it ring for a full minute. And don’t use snooze so it goes off every ten minutes for an hour. Get the hell out of bed. [ref: Dili last week]

4) Leaving early morning? Pack the night before. The other guests don’t want to hear you bumping around at 5am. [ref: more times than I can count]

5) If you are going to pack in the room, don’t compound your selfishness by putting everything in rustly plastic bags as you simply cannot move these without making a huge noise [ref: again, more times than I can count]

6) The aircon is for everyone. Come to some agreement about the temperature so that some people don’t boil or freeze. Sneeking into the dorm late every night so that you can ramp it up to “heat” and then sleep on top of your covers while everyone else loses sleep because they’re dehydrating is not friendly behaviour. You may find that someone else reduces the thermostat to “blue monkey” and hides the control one night, leading to you having to wrap up like a mummy. [ref: Hanoi about two years ago]

7) If you’re going to have sex in the dorm, do it when nobody else is there or is likely to disturb you. I you’re an exhibitionist then that’s fine, but some people may not appreciate the exhibition. Especially at 3am when you’re in the bottom and they’re in the top of a very wobbly bunk. Those you disturb may well take delight in telling all and sundry that “at least it only lasted 20 seconds or so”. [ref: Nomads in Auckland about three years back]

8) Don’t bring randoms back into the room. They may exchange a quick kiss and cuddle for all your stuff (and other people’s) once you’ve gone to sleep. [ref: same guy as in 7 – definitely don’t bring a hooker back, thinking you’re getting a freebie. It cost him his camera and wallet]

9) Don’t overfill the dorm and share beds with people you’ve pulled, especially if you wake up the others trying to sleep. You may find it makes them grumpy enough to inform the management, who charge you extra for the night or kick you out [ref: Paris two years ago]

10) Just because you’re drunk and want to have a singing contest at 4am does not mean everyone else does. Using the excuse “it’s a dormitory – if you want a quiet night you should get a ****ing private room” is not acceptable and could find you out on the street with your luggage and a warning given to every other hostel in the area not to take you in [ref: bunch of Irish lads in Cairns 3 years ago]

11) If there’s one bathroom between 20-30 people, spending upwards of 15 minutes brushing your teeth is not good form. If you are that anal about your dental hygiene, do it in the kitchen where people can at least work around you. This is a hostel – backpackers routinely wake up with hangovers and very full bladders [ref: Vietnamese guy in that Nomad’s hostel in Auckland]

12) Lock the door when you’re out. Just because your luggage only consists of 6 pairs of unwashed sock, a pair of pants on the “inside out” phase of wear and a Nike t-shirt with one sleeve doesn’t mean the other people in the room mind having their laptops stolen. [ref: mainly Oz and NZ]

13) Every hostel I’ve ever been in has a “no smoking” policy in the dorms. Every single one. This does not mean it’s OK to light up inside and then walk out. Smoking also includes drugs, not just tobacco. Hence, waking up every hour for a big gurgly hit on the bong you have stashed under your bed is likely to end up with you smoking something that came out of my bottom. [ref: hostel in Busselton, Australia]

14) When packing early in the morning, having a stupidly loud conversation while playing your radio and singing along is not good form [ref: Siem Reap, Cambodia – wasn’t actually a hostel dorm but the “private rooms” had walls made of plaster and shared the same airspace above them so there was effectively no muffling of sound]

15) If there is only one key to the room, do not use it to lock the door and then take it with you when you go out for the day. This means that the staff will have to break in/remove the door from the hinges so that I can get my damn bags back and make it to the airport on time. [ref: that bloody Dutch couple again – about thirty minutes after I posted the original blog entry]

Feel free to suggest more if you’ve had a selfish sod spoil your night in a hostel anywhere.

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14 thoughts on “Tip: Hostel Etiquette

  1. I’m guilty of 3 (I’m exceptionally good at turning the alarm off in my sleep, so I need to set about 5 to make sure I do actually get up on time). Then again though, I’ve never stayed in a hostel dorm, so I’m off the hook, hehe.

  2. Ladies – thank you all for the comments. I would like to point out that generally the Dutch are amongst the best people to share a hostel room with. These people are definitely not the norm!

    Incidentally, I’m going to add number 14 shortly after this morning *after* I posted this… If there’s only one key for the room, don’t use it to lock the door then bugger off out for the day. It means the staff have to remove the bloody door so that I can get my bags back!

    And yes, that was the Dutch couple again.

  3. This details all of the reasons I get private rooms when I stay in hostels. I am a very light sleeper and the straw the killed the camels back was in Iceland when people were getting up at 5 am, packing their bags, repacking their bags — or the other thing is that inevitably people who snore will go to bed before you…… and not just snore, but rattle walls and windows as they do so..

    The sex thing irritates me…. I’m guilty of doing it in a hostel room, but we had the decency to wait until there was no one in the room….. if people are in the room — find someplace else… a bathroom, a private room, a broom closet, a dark alley — i don’t care i don’t want to hear or experience it with you unless we are doing it together…

    Great post…..

  4. Thanks for the post, Daniël. Yeah, I think we should come to a worldwide hostelling agreement – if you’re having sex in a hostel room then anyone else there is allowed to join in.

  5. if you’re into that sort of thing, i’d let someone join in ;-)..

    i find your blog very interesting. i have placed a link to your site on my links page (just food for thought)…

  6. I’d have to get my other half’s permission. In triplicate. And signed using the blood of no fewer than three rabid badgers which had been voluntarily donated.

    And thank you for the link. I would reciprocate but I don’t have a links page, per se. However, I would invite anyone to click on your name above and go have a look. Love the layout on your page and I will be checking out your Russian trip. I’ve been tempted but the visa application procedure just seems like such a pain in the backside. I’m still thinking of going through the “lite” version for a trip to Belarus, though.

    As for your top 50 list – I’ve done about 6-7 of them that you haven’t yet! Of course, you’ve done a load that I’ve not managed 🙂

  7. the lite version of a visa process??? i always thought that trying to visit belarus was extremely hard..

    the process for getting the russian visa was a pain but it turned out to be quite painless, although cost me quite a bit of money… very exciting though as i will be heading out in just 26 days, yeah…. it’s one of those places i have always been fascinated with… the history of the czars just gives me reason enough to go…..

  8. From what I gather, Belarus just isn’t so “difficult” as Russia. However, it does have many of the same hoops to jump through. I may make an effort at it later this year for a short break as it’s fairly easy to get to from the UK. I guess I’ll find out then!

    Russia interests me partially because it’s so hard to go (the same for Belarus). It means fewer people do go which makes it all the more intriguing.

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