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Pintler’s Portal Hostel (PPH) Information & Education Series: Tips for Staying in a Hostel

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Advice & Etiquette For a Successful Stay

If you’re new to hosteling and don’t know what to expect, staying in a hostel for the first time may seem intimidating. By nature, hostels are communal environments where guests co-exist in a shared space. Therefore, whether new to hostels or a seasoned vet, it’s important to review some tips and etiquette to ensure a successful stay for everybody.

In General

Here are a few general guidelines — DOs and DON’Ts — regarding hostels and hosteling:

DO your research, make a reservation. People don’t always equate hostels with reservations.

You should. During the peak seasons, hostels fill quickly — don’t be left out. Also, make your reservation directly, usually via the hostel’s website. Third party travel vendors are more expensive, harder —if not impossible — to make changes, and always short-change the hostel or business owners. As we like to say here at PPH, Book Direct & Save!

DO read the reviews. In our electronic age, online reviews are an invaluable tool to help research which hostel to use and which to avoid. Are they clean? Are they safe? Is the staff helpful? Bad actors can’t hide on the internet. Also, individual hostel websites and review sites, like Trip Advisor, will help find the right type of hostel for you. For example, if you’re older and enjoy quiet places, don’t pick the youth hostel next to the biggest nightclub in town. Reviews will help you sort that out.

DO follow rules, like curfews. Curfews at hostels are put in place as a common courtesy to other

guests. At PPH, for example, reservations close at 10pm nightly. We do so to minimize disruption for our in-house guests. That’s not to say guests can’t return to the hostel after 10pm, they can. We just ask they do so in a manner that respects other guests, i.e. quietly. Other common rules in hostels include: No outside guests in the dorm rooms, quiet hours between 10pm and 7am, and be clothed and shoed when not in your room.

— Unless expressly permitted, DON’T smoke or vape. Most hostels have strict policies regarding smoking. At PPH, smoking and vaping is prohibited anywhere in or around the property. Because we cater to people who chose not to smoke or vape, strict adherence in our community environment is essential. In fact, if smoke or odors impact other guests, adversely affect our ability to rent beds, or alter our cleaning routines anywhere in the building or on the grounds, a fine will be imposed.

DO understand, it’s a hostel, and people are looking for an affordable and pleasant night stay. Be kind and respectful. As we stated in our recent blog post What is a Hostel?: “Be a good guest! A good hostel will feel like a home away from home.”

In the Room

Tips for a successful stay really revolve around the rooms. Everyone wants a good night’s sleep. Following some simple guidelines will make it so everyone wakes up refreshed:

DO consider a sleeping mask and earplugs. Some noise is inevitable. People snore, talk in their sleep; beds creek, buildings settle; people get up to use the bathroom; people come home from the

bar. Noise happens, be prepared! Some people use headphones or earbuds and white noise or music to negate outside disturbances. While this may be helpful, please think of others’ sanity in a close space and use your headphones appropriately, i.e. quietly. Your bunk mates will appreciate it!

DO pack the night before. If you have an early departure, pack up the night before you leave. No one wants to be awoken before dawn by hastily zipped bags and shuffling papers.

“Do yourself and your bunkmates a favor by packing during the day,” advises Tristina Oppliger in her blog post 10 Tips for Staying in Hostels: Best Hostel Tips. Also, give your roommates a heads up you’re leaving early in the morning. That will be appreciated!

— Which also leads to a cardinal hostel room rule: DON’T turn on the room lights early in the

morning or in the middle of the night! Most hostel bunks, like PPH, have private reading or night lights instead. If not, use a small flashlight, a headlamp, or the glow from your phone. Nobody wants to be jarred awake by the overhead lights coming on!

DO turn off alerts and set your phone to vibrate or silent at night. Those constant bings and fancy ringtones are fine in the daylight, but all night long?

DO keep things tidy. Who wants to share a room with Pigpen? Nobody. So, keep your stuff organized and in your own space, laundry tucked away, shoes stowed, etc. And remember: Don’t use a fellow guest’s or currently unoccupied bunk as your personal storage or closet. Not cool! Also, regarding linens and towels: At PPH, we provide a washcloth, hand and body towel, along with a pillow, comforter, and linens, made up on your bunk. To maintain

a low price point at the hostel, we can only provide additional towels, linens and pillows for a modest fee. Taking additional towels, etc. from another bed in the room will incur a greater cost than requesting one from our staff. Just ask, we’re here to please!

— I know this is a touchy subject (pun intended!), but DON’T try to have sex in communal rooms. Full stop. Hanging a sheet over your bunk for privacy is clever, but you’re not fooling anyone. For the sake of others around, this is non-negotiable. It’s a hostel, not a frat house — be cool. Also, while we are on the subject, as a courtesy to other guests, being clothed and wearing shoes is typically required outside of one’s individual room. Again, it’s a hostel, not a sorority house.

DO think about security. Sadly, theft does occur in hostels, albeit rarely. To prevent theft, use common sense: keep valuables secure, don’t flash cash or expensive electronics, and bringing a travel lock for your suitcase or bags is not a bad idea. Also, many hostels, like PPH, have security lockers available for guest use. When in doubt, use one!

In the Bathroom

Hostels feature a common bath, practice common courtesy:

DO clean up after yourself. Although bathrooms are routinely cleaned and sanitized, please clean up after yourself and leave the facilities presentable for the next guest.

DO consider shower shoes and hanging toiletry bag. Also, if you are picky about your skin and hair care products, bring your own soap, shampoo, conditioner, etc. All-in-one shower gels are common in many hostel showers.

In the Kitchen

Most hostels have a communal kitchen, one of the many perks of hosteling. Kitchens afford guests the ability to prepare meals and save a tremendous amount of money while traveling. They also form a gathering spot for people to meet, talk, and maybe share a meal. Use them, and follow these

guidelines as well:

DO your own dishes! Someone may be waiting for the pot you just used, don’t leave it in the sink with caked-on red sauce. At PPH, the sign reads: “This is a community kitchen and its cleanliness is the responsibility of all users.” Which means wash, dry, and put away your dishes, pots, and cutlery — anything that you have used. Don’t just leave it in the dish rack. Or better yet, use the dishwasher — at PPH we have two!

DO clean up after yourself. Clean up those splatters in the microwave, wipe up those spills and messes. If you use the stove, wipe it down so the next person can use it.

DO label your food in the fridge or stored on the shelves and DON’T eat someone else’s food!

— Lastly, DO eat your meals in the kitchen or common area and keep the sleeping areas clean.

“None of this is difficult,” says Nomadic Matt in his blog post Hostel Etiquette: What to Do and Not To Do in a Hostel. “Be respectful of people’s space just as you want people to be respectful of yours. You aren’t the only one in the hostel. You’re surrounded by people who have different needs. Be conscious of that.”

In the Common Areas

Like the communal kitchens, one of the best perks of hostels are the common areas. So:

DO take advantage of common areas! Perhaps the best part of hostels is the abundance of common spaces. Use them! Hang out, talk with fellow guests, play cards, drink a beer, cook a meal, play a board game, watch a movie. Enjoy the hostel life!

DO meet and mingle with guests and staff. By nature, hostels are social environments, seek out others, share adventures. DO as they say, “Collect memories, not souvenirs.”

In Summary

Curious, but cautious? No problem. Maybe try a private room first. A private room in a hostel is typically less expensive than a comparable hotel or motel room, and you will be able to enjoy all the social amenities the hostel offers.

Ready to give hosteling a try? Give us a call (406-563-4555) or, better yet, book your bed or room online today: Book Now & Save! Your Base Camp awaits at Pintler's Portal Hostel!


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