8 Warning Signs Of A Bad Hostel

Too many buzzwords

While you're searching for a hostel online, look at the hostel's description and try to read between the lines.  If a hostel says it's cozy, don't be shocked when you arrive to find yourself in a tiny room with 7 other roommates.

A quiet place usually means the guests will be older and may have more of a hotel feel to it.  Hostels described as quaint or charming may very well be old, drab and dreary.

Hostel location

Obviously, you want to be staying close to the action but don't make the mistake of staying so close that you can't sleep at night because the bars are emptying out onto the streets below your window.

On the other hand, you don't want to be too far out of town.  Yes, the hostels further away may seem cheaper but don't forget you're going to be shelling out money every day for the metro into town.

Room sizes

There's a reason why that 12 bed dorm is a bit cheaper than the 6 bed dorm.  You now have to contend with twice the number of wonderous joys dorm life will bring you.

If you're traveling somewhere hot, don't cheap out on the air conditioning!  Yes, the air conditioned room will be a couple bucks more but after spending a night trying to sleep in the sweltering heat, you'll gladly pay 10 times that amount.

So, if you're considering a hostel that only has a 20 bed dorm with an oscillating fan hovering overhead - you might want to look at the next listing.

Too many rules

Yes, some rules are important - especially the unwritten etiquette rules of staying in a hostel.  What we're talking about is a place with "rule overkill".

After all, this is your adventure!  You left your life behind because you wanted to be free and experience the world.  Go back to the hostel's description and count the number of times the word "no" is listed.  If it's more than five you should probably move on to the next one.

Also, while the reason behind curfews makes sense (safety and comfort), keep in mind you may end up locked out and on the street if you miss it.

Some places also have lockout periods for a few hours during the day while they clean which may put a dent into your plans if you wanted to sleep in and just lounge around for the day.

Related Post
Ask a backpacker
Trip planning made easy
The Euro Trip Kit is a great way to start planning your trip.
Inside you'll find a travel journal, adventure passport, language cards and a bunch of other great things to get you excited for your euro trip.
Inside The Kit

Hostel bar or restaurant

Food and drinks at your doorstep?  What's not to like, right?

Well, keep in mind these places also get very busy and loud and may stay open into the wee hours.  Now, if it's all about the party for you then, hey, no worries.  If, on the other hand, you just want some zzzz's then you might want to consider a different hostel.


If you see empty bottles and garbage outside the hostel or in the reception area, there's a pretty good chance cleanliness isn't on the top of the priority list for this place.

After all, if the staff can't be bothered to clean up the common areas, how much attention do you think they're paying to your bed sheets, bathrooms and kitchen.


A good hostel should not only have individual lockers in your room to store your stuff but also secure rooms that require a key or keycard to enter.  Equally important is having someone at the front desk 24/7.  Not only can they make sure only guests are coming and going but if something's going down at 3 in the morning, they're there to handle it.

Related Post

Hostel staff

One of the things that will make or break a hostel is the staff.  These are the people who should make you feel at home and help you out with all the silly questions you can come up with.  Alot of times they are the difference between a horrible and an amazing experience.

If the staff are rude or indifferent when you arrive, you can bet that they won't be going out of their may to make your stay a pleasant one.  Honestly, trust your gut, and if you get a bad vibe from the staff you probably would be better off moving on.
Ask a backpacker
Ask a backpacker
Questions about backpacking?  Our Facebook group is filled with backpackers just like you.
Ask questions, get advice, share some stories, and maybe even meet a travel buddy.  Come hang out with us.

Where To Next?


More Hostel Life

10 Reasons You Should Stay In A Hostel
How To Get A Job at a Hostel
Hostel Etiquette
13 Easy Hostel Meals
Be Inspired
Travel Inspiration
Follow us on Facebook.  Our page is filled with travel tips and inspiration.
Get inspired for your next trip with backpack photos, videos, stories and memes.