Last updated: 01:00 PM ET, Wed December 23 2015

Hostel Etiquette: How Not to Be a Rubbish Roommate

Features & Advice | Will Hatton | December 23, 2015

Hostel Etiquette: How Not to Be a Rubbish Roommate

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

If you’re hitting the road and you fancy meeting a lot of like-minded travelers, being inspired, having fun or all of the above, staying in a dorm is the best and cheapest way to do it. A dorm is a hostel room containing more than one bed, all of which are filled with complete strangers who share the room, the bathroom and a lot of laughs.

What a dorm should be is solo traveler’s mecca. In practice however, certain (thankfully rare) individuals can masterfully transform an innocent dorm into the tenth circle of Hell without even realizing what they’re doing. Here are a few little tips on how to be an awesome roommate and avoid being that person:

1) Bathroom Etiquette

Bathroom Etiquette is inextricably linked to Dorm Etiquette, not least because some dorms have an en suite. I have a few points to make here which will make everyone’s time in the happy room as happy as possible:

a) Regarding the Whole Room

If you make any kind of mess, clean it up. No-one wants to stand on/sit in/have to touch your beard hair/leg hair/vomit, or anything else that happens to come out of you.

Similarly, guys: lift the seat. Then put it back down. Hovering girls: check the seat when you’re done.

I rest my case.

b) Regarding the Toilet Paper

A scarce and precious commodity, not least because the one thing every long-term traveler has in common is that at some point you will lose days of your life to Delhi Belly.

Therefore, don’t get it wet; it renders it useless.

If you finish it, don’t just leave the empty tube swinging from the holder as if in mockery of the poor, food-poisoned soul who rushes in after you. You could be that soul one day; be awesome and go and ask reception to replace it.   

c) Regarding the Bum Gun

Photo by Will Hatton

Where this is a thing, it is the subject of heavy debate. Some love it, some hate it — it is bathroom Marmite. Many do use it, and if you have an unskilled hand, the toilet seat will get wet after spraying. I refer you back to point a), above: no one wants to sit in bum water, so please dry the seat.

2) Sex Etiquette


Just don’t.

We’ve all had the urge to crawl into bed with the sexy Scandinavian on the bottom bunk, but please: either curb your enthusiasm, or ask them nicely if they’d like to accompany you to a private room (and no, the bathroom is not ideal). Or, why not find your holiday romance elsewhere?

No matter how hard you try to convince yourself otherwise, the sound of other people having fun is NOT as calming and relaxing as the sound of a sea breeze. Don’t be rubbish.

3) Snoring Etiquette

I’m not trying to say that all snorers should be dispatched to the social leper colony that is The Private Room, however: it is even more annoying than sex because it just doesn’t stop. More times than I can count, I’ve lain awake pondering why Basil from Switzerland has the right to ruin a good night’s sleep for everyone in the room but himself.

“Did you sleep well?” says Basil, chirpily in the morning.

I want to punch him in the sinuses.

So do the other seven cranky travelers with bags under their eyes.

I stayed in a dorm with one girl who snored like a Victorian era steam train whenever she drank beer. She drank beer often. Recognizing this, she brought a load of disposable earplugs and placed them kindly on everyone’s pillows before heading out. That’s how not to be rubbish.

4) Light Etiquette

If you’re coming in at 3 a.m., for the love of all that is resting, try to be quiet and use a flashlight. Your roommates will love you for it. If mere human decency won’t convince you, know that certain people are not above petty revenge — do you fancy mystery toothpaste all over the inside of your shoe? No? Then you probably shouldn’t be rubbish.

5) Space Etiquette

Stuff: everyone has it. No one likes to be walking all over it, so put it all in your own little corner and try to keep it there.

Food and drink is a whole other conversation. These items attract insects, so don’t keep them in the room if they’re open. No one likes a foot full of crumbs, glass, beer, dirty underwear or cockroaches.

With your first few nights booked and these tips in mind, you’re ready to check in and become the world’s least offensive roommate!

Post script: Being drunk is no excuse for disregarding any of these rules; if anything, they have more significance in the event of inebriation.


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