Hostel FAQ.
What is a hostel?
Who stays in hostels?
Where are hostels located?
What facilities should I expect?
What kind of rules exists?
Will I be able to get a good nights sleep?
Is it clean?
How & what to pack when staying in a hostel?
Is my luggage safe?
Do I need to make a reservation?
What documents do I need yo stay at a hostel?
What is the history of hostels?
Why is my question not here?
What is a hostel?
Defining a hostel is not easy, as they are constantly developing and unlimitedly diverse. However, they share a common idea: they are all travellers homes which offer cheap accomodation and a good social experience in a youthful atmosphere. The means to do so are different from hostel to hostel. In on you might be up collecting eggs from the chickens at sunrise, in another you'll be out partying just as long. More and more hostels are taking the shape of budget hotels and even offer private rooms with en suite facilities, 24-hour reception, restaurants, bars and a whole range of facilities. Still, many hostels remain old school, and you should not expect a lot of material luxery. Bring an open mind!
UP ^
 
Who stays in hostels?
People who like to travel cheap and open-minded, and who like to meet fellow travellers find themselves staying at hostels all around the world. People of every range of age, every profession, race, religion and from all corners of the world.
UP ^
 
Where are hostels located?
Hostels are located all over the world! You will find hostels in small sleepy villages, big metropoiltans and anywhere in-between. Some are situated in modern buildings, some in ancient historical buildings, castles, in tipis or in railroad carriages. Some are located right next to the train station, others you'll have to hike to find. Search and ye shall find.
UP ^
 

What facilities should I expect?
The facilities differs from hostel to hostel, so it is advicable to do some research before you go. However, here is some of what you can expect in general:

  • Private rooms and dormitories
    Most hostels offer private rooms as well as dormitories with bunk-beds. The size of the dormitories varies, but usually they range from 4-20 beds. Sometimes, but not always, the dormitories are separated by sex. Bathrooms and showers are either in the room (en suite) or close by.
  • Food and beverage
    Some hostels offers free breakfast, and some even give you free dinner! They are also usually equipped with a kitchen where you can prepare your own food. Some hostels also have their own restaurant or pub, or they have discounts for their guests at a local restaurant.
  • Atmosphere
    Each hostel offers a different atmosphere, which is one of the things that make it such a great experience to go hostelling. You never know exactly what you are going to get!
  • People
    You are bound to meet a lot of fellow travellers when staying in a hostel. Most hostels are equipped with a lounge where you can relax, watch television, play games, read, exchange stories and get travel tips. You are most likely to leave the hostel with a lot of new friends!
  • Curfews and lockout
    Some hostels have a curfew, usually at midnight or earlier. Some also have a lock-out, which means that the hostel will be closed for some hours during the day. Ask the hostel staff.
  • Bedsheets and towels
    At some hostels you might have to pay a small deposit or fee to get the bedsheets and a towel.
  • Internet access
    Some hostels offer this for free, others charge a small fee.
  • Pick-up
    Many hostels offer to pick you up at the nearest train station or airport, usually for free.
  • Laundry facilities
    Many hostels have their own, or they will help you find one.
  • Pay-phone access
    Call home, your mother is probably worrying about you.
  • Bookswapping
    Like reading while you travel? Many hostels have a bookcase where you can leave your book and grab a new one!
UP ^
 
What kind of rules exists?
The rules are different from hostel to hostel, and in the end it is all about common sense and respect . In a hostel you usually are given a lot of freedom, don't misuse it. If you come home to the hostel in the middle of the night, try not to make too much a fuss about getting into bed (a flashlight becomes very handy!), if there is a queue for the showers, consider wheter or not you actually should let the shampoo work for 6 minutes before rinsing it out. Upon arrival, ask the hostel staff what rules they have.
UP ^
 
Will I be able to get a good nights sleep?
Sleeping in a dormitory, one is exposed to the bodily noises of the other guests, so consider bringing earplugs. When you are searching for a hostel, also consider the fact that if you stay in a hostel with no curfew, people are more likely to come home at odd hours. It all boils down to common sense and respect, and most of the time it works out very well.
UP ^
 
Is it clean?
While not giving you waxed floors and silverware, hostels are fairly clean. With a lot of people coming through, the hostels have to obtain a certain degree of hygiene. The custom is usually that the guests clean up after themselves when they use facilities like the kitchen.
UP ^
 

How & what to pack when staying in a hostel?
Usually you would pack your usual stuff, but there are some things to consider. First of all, travel light! Leave your laptop at home, it will only keep you looking for safe places to put it and electrical outlets to recharge it. And those extra pair of shoes and that extra sweater and the extra pair of pants could easily become a pain in the ass when your room is located on the 5th floor and the elevator does not exist. Hostels usually don't come with baggage porters. Second, consider buying a good backpack. A backpack is by far the best way of getting your stuff from one place to another. Use some time finding one that's comfortable and practical. As most hostels don't have closets, your backpack will serve as that.

Apart from that you should also consider bringing some objects that might come in handy:

  • Soap and towel: hostels offer bathroom facilities, but usually not the luxury of soap. Some also offer a towel (either for free or a small fee), but by bringing your own you are safe. Towels made of microfibre are a good choice, since they are compact, light and dry fast.
  • Sleep-sheet: Bugs consider sleeping bags a good means of transportation, therefore many hostels does not allow them. Most hostels offer linen, but you should also consider bringing a sleep-sheet. A sleep-sheet is basically two sheets sewn together to make a sack.
  • Earplugs: If you like quiet nights.
  • Flashlight: Not all dorms have reading lights over each bed, and a flashlight can be practical if you come home in the middle of the night and don't want to wake everybody up by turning on the lights.
  • Padlock: to put on the locker.
UP ^
 
Is my luggage safe?
Sleeping in a dormitory rises the question of where to put your luggage when you are out exploring the surroundings. In general, backpacks are left in the dormitories, but all hostels offer some kind of secure storage for you valuable equipment. Some have lockers inside or outside the room (usually you have to bring your own padlock), or a safe in the reception. Some offer this service for free, while other charge a small fee or deposit. Check with your hostel.
UP ^
 
Do I need to make a reservation?
If possible, you should always try to make a reservation, especially if travelling in the high season. Different hostels offer different means of booking; some are affiliated with online booking engines, some offer booking though e-mail or telephone calls, and if you happen to be in the city of the hostel, you could always make a booking by showing up personally. Check the details with your hostel. When you arrive, try to arrive as early as possible, as this will make you able to choose the bed you want and check out the facilities of the hostel.
UP ^
 
What documents do I need yo stay at a hostel?
You will need some kind of identification. This is for your safety in case something happens. Because of the dormitory style, more information is needed than in a private room arrangement. Some hostels only accept passports, other accept drivers license or another kind of national identification card. We advise you to check this with your hostel before you leave.
UP ^
 
What is the history of hostels?
Hostels have probably been around for as long as people have been travelling, but the hostel movement we are familiar with today was started by a german schoolteacher named Richard Schirrmann, in the summer of 1907. Each night the classrooms of Nette School were cleared of desks and chairs and straw sacks were put on the floor. Each morning the guests helped put the classrooms back in order again. Schirrmanns philosophy was "that the thoughtful young people of all countries could be provided with suitable meeting places where they could get to know each other! That could and must be the role of our youth hostels, not only in Germany, but throughout the world, building a bridge of peace from nation to nation!"
UP ^
 
Why is my question not here?
We are constanly working to keep this FAQ as updated as possible, but if you have a question that is not here, send it to us on

mail@infohostels.com

We will get back to you as soon as possible.

UP ^