Thursday, June 27, 2019

My Perfect Hostel

After eight or so months of travel, I have some opinions regarding what makes a good hostel. These opinions range from obvious to minute, but I hope, maybe, this reaches someone in a position to make my or a future guest's stay a little more comfortable.


Money - It can be a pain for me to figure out what the most efficient and effective way for me to book a room is. I've had places that offered the same price online as in-person, I've had places (like where I'm staying) that offer discounts when I book online, and I've had places that offer a discount if I pay in cash (most of the Philippines). As such, I've resorted to only booking two days at any new place online and then inevitably extending using whatever method makes most sense for me. As it stands, if I were to open a hostel, I would make sure to accept online bookings, then empower my employees to negotiate cash/in-person prices, especially for extended stays.

Listings - I'm looking for three photos when I book online: what the bed looks like (see BED section), what the bathroom looks like (see BATHROOM section), and a view from the street so I can find the place. I have declined to book places with fifty photos of every single bed offered because I couldn't figure out if the bathrooms were clean. I've specifically booked places with a handful of photos because they were clear and concise. I really don't care to see big group photos of people playing beer pong - I understand that's code for "this is a party hostel", but please tell me you have something else to offer (e.g. a decent bed).


I have no preference between key and computer controlled access to bedrooms, but the rooms should be locked as default.

A locker of some sort capable of storing a midsize backpack and lockable by a standard size combination or keyed lock should be provided. I don't trust your keys and I'm not going to go through my bag to figure out what I deem valuable and what I deem expendable if you have tiny one-cubic-foot lockers.

With the understanding that bunkbeds are the norm in hostels, each bed should be equipped with a few things. If I see a hostel with thin, metal bedframes, I will pass - they squeak, they move all over the place when the person on the top bunk shifts their weight, and the rungs on the ladder hurt my feet. Custom-built wooden beds with stairs or wider-than-two-inch ladder slats to the bunk level are preferred.

If I see a hostel without curtains on the bed, I will pass it up if one with curtains is available. If both of those conditions are met, I'll choose the bed with a plug and a personal light.

While it's not a necessity, beds arranged longways (entered by swinging the legs in) are preferred to beds arranged crawl-in style. These beds also provide a flat space on which one can repack their bag.

There should be space, somewhere in the bedroom, to repack a bag.

I understand that space is at a premium. That said, four to six beds per room is probably optimal. Offering a twenty-bed dorm with no lockers is absolutely absurd and a way to guarantee your lodgers will be robbed.

Not all tenants will be acclimated to your climate. Some method of temperature control should be accessible and changeable by the guests (even mere control of a fan or having a blanket). Additionally, the climate control should be relatively quiet - I've spent many nights suffering between boiling and unable to sleep due to an extremely loud sound (that even earplugs couldn't mask).


I'm not exactly sure what happened, but I think there's an international conspiracy against the inclined plane. One of the most fundamental human tools, it, like the wheel in primitive America, has been overlooked in modern design. For all future contractors, here's a news-flash: water follows the rules of gravity and, therefore, flows downward. Don't make your drains the highest point in a shower.

As a bonus, don't fuck up your drains and then double-fuck up your soap platforms. I'm currently (Melbourne) staying in a place where the water flows out into the halls and, should one use the cut-outs for shampoo/soap, the soap falls to the floor. A simple lip, dimples, or ridges would make my life easier in both respects. But no, when soap is put on the place specifically meant to hold soap, it immediately falls to the floor. The water, of course, then flows out into the hallway.

I don't mind if toilets and showers are combined, though I'd recommend against it, as it's a great recipe for wet pants should someone have to take a shit after another person showered. Also it means that someone using a bathroom for one activity blocks people for every activity (e.g. I can't brush my teeth because all the showers are in use; I can't poop because everyone's brushing their teeth).


I couldn't come up with another word that started with "b", sorry.

While this is moderately important, it ranks last on my list. I'm pretty satisfied with a table where I can do a little travel planning and drink free tea / coffee. Even access to hot water can mean a lot. Big tables that encourage strangers to mix and mingle are best. Having a staff member in the same room is also encouraged, especially if dishes are involved - in my experience, there were few dirty dishes in areas where the kitchen / common area was shared with reception (and lots when the areas were separate).

I suppose for a hostel owner there exists a decision to be made: short term vs. long term. If one is to encourage short term folks, clean water and boiling water (for tea, coffee, and instant ramen) is enough. If one wants to encourage long term folks, well, a full kitchen with plenty of counter space is necessary. In addition to the space, the staff necessary to clean the area should come into consideration.

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