Recently, we’ve both found ourselves staying in hostel dormitory rooms. Ah, the familiar feeling of creaky old bunk beds, noisy luggage lockers and shared bathrooms (shower flip flops mandatory). We’ve subsequently been caught wondering whether we are too old to be doing this. The big question on our minds, are hostels only for young people? And, more importantly, are we too old to stay in a hostel bunk bed?
Who stays in hostels?
According to data, the majority of guests in hostels are under 35. But the average age is younger. Many people in hostels are travelling solo, others are with friends and sometimes couples stay in hostels too.
Most travellers have found the need to sleep in a hostel at least once in their lifetime. Many travellers love hostels so much that they wouldn’t consider staying anywhere else.
Based on our experience, we’ve met a wide array of people in hostels. From businessmen, to roving backpackers with guitars, stag parties, girl groups and all things in between. We’ve also recently noticed that more people staying in hostels are choosing early nights over all night partying – perhaps due to increasing numbers of Gen Z not being into drinking alcohol, or more people opting for sightseeing over clubbing. Either way, it makes for a more peaceful hostel experience than we were used to around 10 years ago!
Why stay in a hostel?
There are many reasons for stay in a hostel. Here are the top 5 reasons that we have noticed during our travels:
1 / It’s the budget option
On average, hostels tend to be cheaper than hotels. This is especially true when you look at hostels offering bunk beds in dormitory rooms.
In expensive cities, such as Oslo, Singapore and Tel Aviv, staying in a hostel provides a significant cost saving when compared with a hotel.
2 / It’s the only option
Aside from budget constraints, oftentimes hostels can be the only option. For example, when we walked the Camino de Santiago, we stayed in hostels (albergues) frequently as they were the only option available in the small towns we visited. Sometimes hostels are purpose built to provide accomodation for a particular community or a group of travellers such as hikers, climbers or surfers.
3 / To meet people
Hostels are a great place to meet people. For solo travellers, this can be a big motivating factor. Hostels have large communal spaces and encourage socialising, sometimes through organised events. It’s fairly safe in hostels to assume that anyone staying there is open to a conversation at least.
4 / For the location
In some cities, a hotel in a central location will be prohibitively expensive. Whereas a hostel in the same location may have a much better price point. But often, hostels just have better locations. During our trip to Costa Rica, we found a hostel that was closer to the beach than any hotel we have found.
5 / It feels safe for solo travellers
For solo travellers, a top priority is often safety. Staying in a hostel can be a great option to feel safer. Hostels tend to have 24/7 security and door codes. Plus, there’s something reassuring about sharing a room with fellow travellers and knowing that there’s
Are hostels only for young people?
The short answer is no hostels are not just for you people! If you’re wondering if you’re too old to stay in a hostel, you’re not. Nobody is ever going to kick you out of a hostel because you’re over 35, showing signs of ageing, or because you make a small “oof” sound when you slide your tired bones into bed. I’ve never been asked to confirm my age when checking into a hostel. Unlike an 18 to 30s holidays, there is no actual age limit on a hostel stay and generally, people don’t give you weird looks because you’re not in your teens or twenties.
In fact, trends suggest that millennials are the biggest users of hostels, this generation seems to love travel. Especially after the pandemic, millennials are out in force, and many (now well over 30) are standing by their hostel beds and refusing to leave.
How to stay in a hostel if you’re a bit more “mature?”
We are firm believers that there is no age limit for hostels and remain ever determined that we are not too old to stay in hostels. Based on our experience, here are a few suggestions for how you can still enjoy staying in a hostel, even if you’re a little older than the average bunk bed occupant.
1 / Pay for a single sex dorm
Picking a bed in a single sex dorm room tends to be a little more expensive than a mixed dorm. But if you’re looking for a more civilised experience, I tend to believe that single sex dorms are slightly more tame. Mixed dorms can be fine, but they can also be a prime location for some after hours activities.
2 / Request a bottom bunk
Bunk beds have a top bunk and a bottom bunk. If you stay on the top bunk, youre going to have to scramble up stairs to get to your bed. This can be particularly annoying if you find yourself needing the bathroom through the night.
The other issue with the top bunk is you’ll have to juggle all your personal bits, or anything you don’t want to leave in a locker. I’ve frequently also found a need to get changed under a sleeping bag on the top bunk, definitely more challenging an occasion since I’ve left my 20s.
The bottom bunk is clearly a superior option. Many hostels enable guests to choose a top or bottom bunk. Sometimes you may have to pay a bit extra for the bottom, or you can just politely request it.
3 / Pick a bunk bed with a curtain or a pod
Curtains, or bed pods, are an absolute dream invention. More and more we are noticing these in hostels we visit.
Why are these better for more mature guests? Well, mainly because you can shut out any annoying people and enjoy your own private space. Gone are the days when I could have 4 hours of bad sleep and still spring out of bed. Protect your sleep in a hostel at all costs!
4 / Pick a slightly more expensive hostel
There are many different types of hostel. From the bargain basement to the slightly more upmarket. In basic hostels, you will find more young people and more groups. Often choosing to spend more money partying and less on accommodation.
If you’re a little older, you may wish to go for a more expensive hostel. We’ve tended to find that the more fancy hostels have guests who are more respectful of their surroundings as well as hostel staff who prioritise rules, such as noise restrictions overnight. A great example is Isla Hostel in Tel Aviv, reassuringly expensive. This place also has a large coffee shop making it perfect for anyone working from the hostel during their trip too.
5 / Pick a hostel in a more expensive city
In expensive cities, such as Tel Aviv, hostels can be too expensive for large groups of young travellers. Therefore, the average age of guests tends to be a little higher. If you’re hoping to meet more people of a similar age to you, then this can be a good option.
6 / Opt for a hostel with a large communal space
As I’ve got older, I definitely appreciate my personal space more than I did when I was younger. Finding a hostel with a large communal space is always important to me. Even if the dorm room is tiny, knowing that I can spend time in a lounge or generous outdoor space is a huge relief. This means there is space to relax and socialize outside of the dorm. The added bonus is that this then prevents people congregating in the bedrooms, which is great if you’re heading to bed earlier than others.
How to book hostels
We always book our hostels through hostel world. They have the best range of hostels, good rates and the site is easy to use. What are you waiting for?
Book your hostel today with Hostel World.
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