Hostel Etiquette

Hostels are a staple part of backpacking and travelling. They’re cheap, an unreal place to meet humans and well, again, they’re cheap. In my time I’ve stayed in many hostels and despite my strong preference to be alone in a room (my mental health is shite and I really need a single room most of the time), I actually enjoy a hostel. Obviously I love the price as hotels are pricey as fuck and Air BnB’s aren’t always that cheap but I mainly love the atmosphere and the people. You can meet so many diverse humans in a hostel and meet some pretty good pals. For an example, I was staying in the Only Backpackers Inn, in the Danforth, Toronto, I met a fellow person from the sexy county of Scotland and he became a good friend of mine and a big part of my time in Canada.

Hostels also can suck more than a baby on a dummy, a lot of shit can go down in a hostel and a lot of things there can irk the most patient of people in the world. It’s just one of those places where you’ve got to take the good with the bad and roll with the punches. Doing that is the only way to survive living with 12 people in a room for a few days, either that or just a tonne of the devils lettuce – weed, for all you non stoners.

Like most places there is a sort of etiquette. Hostels are full of etiquette that you just succumb to so you don’t get perceived to be a penis, and not a nice big girthy one that people want to play with in many ways. A lot of it is just common courtesy and just generally being a good egg, but some are just hostel specific. Regardless here is some etiquette you should adhere to and pick up next time you go stay in the poverty hotel.


Hostel rooms are cramped and most of the time you’re squished together with the people in your room like you’re on a bullet train in Japan. Space is limited and not that big, the irony I know. Majority of time you will have a very small space to claim as your own independent micro-nation, your shelf space will be limited if any shelves at all and you will just have to accept that you will be living out of your bag. The fact that you won’t be able to spread all your stuff around the room like you’re the Queen of Shiva is just part of the experience. You really need to not be like Napoleon and parade around conquering shelf space for yourself, people will fucking hate you for that and a lot of the time will keep their grievances internally. It can be difficult if you’re a long-term guest at that hostel and essentially live there, as it’s your home and you need to conquer more space than the common ‘just a few nights stay people’. All you need to do in that instance is just take a small space, make sure there’s adequate room for other people’s stuff and remember just cause you’re long term doesn’t make you room general.


Ah snoring, the thing that ruins people’s sleep all the time. It’s not fun. Snorers suck, but people need to remember you can’t help it most of the time. We know it can be unbearable but literally the person usually doesn’t know that they are snoring so don’t be that grade A arsehole who wakes them up. When you wake them up, they’ll be as fuming as a teacher who didn’t have their morning coffee and most likely when they get back to sleep they’ll just snore again. It’s simply bad hostel etiquette to interrupt their sleep. By doing this you can even wake other people up.

When I was staying long term in a hostel I had this French guy living in the bunk above me. One night he had enough of this Mexican guy’s snoring and decided to strum his guitar to wake him up and tell him he was snoring, thus waking all 6 of us in the room up in the process. I wanted him to run 100m barefoot on thumb tacks for that, I needed my ugly sleep and this prick interrupted it for his own selfishness.

It’s hard to get to sleep through snoring – I sleep talk and occasionally snore- but just buy earplugs or suck it up, it’s part of hostel life. Deal with it humans.


We all have a preference over top or bottom, we’re not talking about sexual intercourse preference you dirty minded humans, we’re talking about bunks. I’m more of a bottom bunk type of human. I always have been despite that when you’re a young whipper snapper you tend to float towards enjoying the top bunk as it’s apparently cool to sleep in a bed not on the ground. I don’t like top bunks and find them more annoying that what you find your siblings when you were a child, but at times I just gotta suck it up. A lot of hostels assign you to a bed instead of letting you choose your own, which is quite handy as you know which is your bed but its also a massive pain in the arse as you’re then forced to sleep on what you prefer the least.

However there are still a lot of hostels who let you choose your own bed. This can be annoying at times though. The old unwritten rule is if a bed looks clean and made it’s not taken, if it’s got stuff on it or looks used then it’s claimed. It’s a simple and easy concept, and usually doesn’t result in people accidentally taking someone’s bed. It doesn’t happen though. When I go to claim a bottom bunk as I’m a big old bottom (bunk fan), I put my towel over the side, and other sort of things to use as curtains to make it my own little anti social cave. It also helps show it’s taken and I mess up the bed as well to look like it’s been slept in. I’ve never once had someone say to me I’m in their bed and that’s where their bed was so I’d say it’s a good technique to do. However I did have one incident where a bed was clearly not claimed and a guy told me it was free (it’s also good to check if free or not), when I came back from a bar late at night I found some cunt (only way to describe this guy, sorry Canadians) had moved all my stuff to the top bunk and he had taken my precious bottom bunk. I was fuming, drunk and again fuming. It was late at night so I wasn’t going to passively aggressively say to this guy to climb up to the top bunk and return my stuff to the bottom bunk, that was a morning Swankie thing, I just accepted I was stuck on the top. Next morning I told the guy he took my bed, he blatantly lied to me and said he had already claimed it and just shrugged his shoulders as I explained it was taken and as it was freshly made up and no one had taken it when I first entered the room. To end the not so interesting story there as I’m not that interesting (I like to think I am) just don’t be like that window licking, bad influence on your children, massive arsehole that claims a bed that clearly has been taken. Just accept you’re stuck on whatever bed is left and move on with your life.

I have many hostel tales and experiences to share with all of you. Get excited, a part two will happen.

Swankie – 23, Scotland. Founder of Loveable Loser

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