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How to Choose a Hostel Bed Like a Pro

Hostel bedroom with bunk beds and single beds

Your first stay in a hostel can be a daunting experience.  I’m here to help you have the best possible hostel experience, and although a good night’s sleep unfortunately can’t be guaranteed, choosing the right hostel bed can go a long way to help!  By following a few tips, you can turn a hostel nightmare into an awesome hostel experience!

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Want to book a hostel for your next trip?  Check out HostelWorld for listings and prices

Which Hostel Room to Choose:

Even when I’m backpacking, sometimes I like to splash out and treat myself to a private room, especially before or after a long trek or when I really need my own space! But this does push the cost up, so if you’re budget conscious then sharing a room is best for you.

Twin / triple / quad rooms are great if you’re travelling with friends as you can have the space for just you and less security worries.  Of course, couples usually prefer to have a private double room so they can have alone time together, and the extra cost shared between two isn’t much more than two dorm beds.

For solo travellers, the main benefits of shared dorms are cost, and meeting people. Make friends with the people in your dorm, you already have travel in common so it is a great way to break the ice and get some company for dinner.

Choosing the right hostel bed in a dorm

Sometimes hostels will allocate you a dorm bed before you even arrive – so if you have any firm preference it is best to ask for it when you make your reservation.  Personally, I prefer a bottom bunk bed, so I always ask if they can hold one for me. Usually it works!

Most hostels have bunk beds.  Sometimes they may have single beds, and an occasionally a double bed in the dorm. Some even cram in triple bunk beds, so you could find yourself being metres from the floor – not ideal if you’re scared of heights!

If you have a choice of hostel bed, here are some things to think about:

Power sockets: is there a power socket by your bed to charge your phone overnight?  If not, then use a portable charger overnight, and charge that during the day.

Toilet / main door: how close is the bed to the bathroom?  Or the main door?  People will be coming in and out of the doors all night, shutting them loudly & turning the lights on, potentially flooding your bed with bright light.  Essential items for hostel stays like eye mask & earplugs will help you sleep if you don’t get your ideal bed!

Air Con: Air conditioning can be a blessing and a curse in dorm rooms.  If your bed is right in front of the unit you will be blasted with freezing cold air to the extent you wished you had a blanket.  Or even worse, sometimes air con units drip onto the bed below so you could end up cold and wet!

Window: If there is good curtains or blinds in the room this won’t be an issue, but more often than not the curtains in hostels leave a lot to be desired.  As soon as it gets light a bed next to an east-facing window will be light far too early, and potentially hot if the sun comes in.  Windows also tend to be noisier than on the other side of the room, however in warm places a pleasant breeze through the window can help keep you cool.

Lockers: Having someone else’s locker next to your pillow can be a horrible way to wake up and find someone standing over you as they lock away their valuables!

Hostel Dorm Beds - How to stay in a hostel & not be a dick: hostel etiquette 101

Choose your Hostel Bed: Top vs Bottom bunk

Once you’ve decided on the location of your bed, which is best – a bottom or a top bunk?

Read More: Hostel Etiquette – How to Stay in a Hostel & Not Piss Off Your Roommates

I always prefer the bottom bunk, and here’s why:

No worries about falling down the ladder when climbing up or down

If you drop something out of bed it’s easy to recover

Sitting and chilling, putting shoes on, packing your backpack – all easier sitting down on your bed

Easy access to your belongings around you

Under the bed can be a handy storage area

No irrational fear of falling out of bed

You can often strategically hang a towel from the top bunk to create a little den for more privacy & less light

hostels are awesome

However, there are some downsides of having the bottom bunk:

It is annoying having someone above you rolling around

You will probably wake up every time they go up or down the ladder, potentially trampling you if you tend to spread out in bed starfish style.

I consistently hit my head while getting in and out of bed

Some bottom bunks don’t have enough space to sit up straight so end up being even less comfortable than the top bunk

Want to book a hostel for your next trip?  Check out HostelWorld for listings and prices

What do you think?  Do you prefer bottom or top bunks, or do you always go for a private room?  I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!

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Your first stay in a hostel can be a scary experience, however, I'm here to help you choose the best hostel bed to (almost!) guarantee a good nights' sleep! Travel Tips | Backpacking Tips

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Last updated: May 16, 2020

13 thoughts on “How to Choose a Hostel Bed Like a Pro

  1. The Offbeat Adventuress says:

    I usually go for the top bed because I have this (irrational?) fear of a stranger creeping into bed with me while I’m sleeping in a bottom bunk. Maybe it comes from train travel around Europe in couchettes? But the bit about creating some privacy on the bottom bunk is genius… I should try it next time!

  2. Jessica says:

    I admit that I’ve never stayed at a hostel, but I appreciate the tips if I’m ever in a situation that I may stay in one. Good tip about the bottom bunk… Extra storage is always appreciated!

  3. Agness of aTukTuk says:

    Excellent considerations and aspects, especially for beginners! I consider myself a hostel pro and choosing a private room is always the best. Do you always use the locker in a shared room?

    • Claire says:

      Yes, I always use the lockers – although I once had stuff stolen from a locker so sometimes I give my passport/laptop to reception to put in their safe! I prefer a private room too but sometimes budget doesn’t allow! 😀

  4. Paige says:

    I’m a top bunk person. I like one that’s up against a wall, though. I’ve found that people coming in or out disturb me less when I’m up top. I agree though that it’s super important to be by a power outlet!

  5. Drew says:

    Great tips about staying in hostels. Must say, I agree with you about the bottom bunk. I’ve always found it easier to stay on the bottom for all the reasons you mentioned!

  6. CJ says:

    I am in the category of a travel couple, so we opt for our own space whenever possible, but sometimes the hostel is inevitable because of the price. If you are a light sleeper and you value sleep at all, hostels can really be a nightmare. It seems like I always end up in the ones that have a loud party in the common area until the sun comes up the next morning, with kids playing drums and or something equally loud all night long. We really don’t travel to party, which is contrary to the hostel scene in a lot of places.

    As far as bed choice goes, luckily as a couple they usually give us the same bunk bed. Sometimes though, we have come in late and we end up on opposite sides of the room from each other which always feels kind of funny.

    p.s. You forgot to include a picture when you said “use a portable charger like this one.”

  7. Trisha Velarmino says:

    These are great tips especially for those who haven’t tried staying at a hostel yet. And a power socket near the bed is really useful. It’s something to take note of when choosing a bed.

  8. Carol Perehudoff says:

    You’ve really thought this through. I would have never thought of looking for a bed with a power socket by it. And I love the idea of hanging up a towel or sarong to create a private space. I’d still opt for the top probably though, as it seems so much more fun.

  9. Tamara Elliott says:

    The benefit of going with a twin or quad room over the more expensive private room, is that sometimes you end up getting the whole thing to yourself anyway when no one else checks-in!

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