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The Whole Truth About Staying In A Hostel With Kids

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Hostels have been around for a very long time and they are a great way to travel because it allows you to save on accommodation. I have stayed in several hostels with kids in the United States as well as in Europe and Asia and we have had a good experience each time.

What Is A Hostel

If you are an avid traveler and especially a budget traveler like me, then it is likely that you have looked up and considered staying in a hostel. This low-budget accommodation type is usually shared by travelers and is considered one of the most common type of lodgings in many European and Asian countries.

When you book a bed in a hostel, it means that you are actually paying for the bed space and not an entire room since you will be sharing the space with other travelers. A hostel set-up is actually a great way to meet other travelers as you visit new places.

Checking into our hostel Copenhagen

The traditional hostel may be described as not a fitting place for kids. Most people think that hostels have little to no privacy and not enough space but that isn’t always true. Staying in a hostel with kids is great especially if you’re on a tight budget because it is very inexpensive.

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Fortunately, many hostels nowadays have upgraded facilities and have become more inclusive to children and families. Hostels have really changed over the years mainly because more and more families are travelling as a group and many hostel owners recognize the opportunity to gain more customers.

Types Of Hostel Accommodations

When most people think of hostels, they think about a large dorm room with multiple bunk beds. What they don’t know is that hostels offer a multitude of different sleeping arrangements for people traveling solo as well as for families.

Dorm Room

The classic hostel set up is a dorm with with multiple bunk beds in it. These dorm room style hostels have anywhere from one bunk bed in it to over ten bunk beds in it. However, not all dorm rooms are set up in this manner.

It is important to note that:

  • There are three type of dorm rooms: female only dorms, male only dorms and coed dorms.
  • There two type of dorm room sleeping arrangements: dorm rooms with bunk beds and dorm rooms with separate beds.

In this type of hostel room, you are charged per bed and you will be sharing the room with other people. Hostels generally won’t allow you to book a dorm room bed when traveling with kids. You don’t know who will be in the next bed, so I don’t recommend it either.

The only way to book a dorm room style hostel, is if you book the entire room for your family. In Copenhagen, we booked the entire room with three bunk beds making for a total of six beds for our family of six.

Private Room

The next option when staying in a hostel are private rooms. Private rooms come in different shapes and sizes.

Here are your hostel private room options:

  • Single Room: this room only has one bed in it and can be booked by one person.
  • Twin Room: this room has two separate beds in it or one bunk bed and can be booked by one person traveling with a friend or two different people who don’t know each other.
  • Double Room: this room has a double bed. It can sleep two people and can only be booked by one person.
  • Family Room: this room has enough beds to sleep three people or more.

In Billund, our family of six shared a family room hostel. This hostel had a full size bed and two bunk beds.

Billund Denmark With Kids The Original Legoland Theme Park and Lego House

In Hong Kong, Aiden and I shared a twin room hostel. This room had one bunk bed in it and bathroom right outside the room that was shared with two other twin rooms.

In Chicago, I took both boys and we shared a twin room as well with a bunk bed. This room had a toilet in it but no shower. The showers were down the hallway. We used the women’s shower.

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Capsule Room

Capsule hostels recently made an appearance and have gotten very popular. These capsule hostels consists of capsule pods in a room. They are stacked on top of each other like bunk beds, however they are fully enclosed and offer a much higher level of privacy. The bathroom and shower facilities are usually located around the corner.

In Taipei (Taiwan) we stayed in a coed capsule hostel. This was our first experience ever! We stayed in a single bed capsule on the top bunk. Shockingly enough it was much roomier than I expected. Aiden loved it so much when we traveled to Vietnam I had to book another capsule hostel again.

Watching TV and doing school work

In Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam) we stayed in a coed capsule hostel which was part of a nice hotel with great amenities such as a yummy breakfast as well as a kids pool and an adult pool. We booked a doubled bed capsule and we had so much room in it.

He loved being able to do school work on his laptop
We had a flat screen TV in our Capsule Pod in Ho Chi Minh, Vietname

Bathrooms

Bathrooms can be tricky when staying in a hostel with kids. It is important that you book a hostel room that works for your family. Sometimes hostel rooms have bathrooms in it, sometimes they have only a toilet and sometimes they have no facilities in it at all.

It is important to check the amenities of each room prior to booking a room to make sure the bathroom arrangement will work well for you. We’ve stayed in rooms with and without bathrooms or showers with no issues.

Kitchen

One of the best things about staying in a hostel with kids is the ability to cook meals. This saves us a ton of money when we travel. Keep in mind that hostel kitchens are communal and shared with the other people in the hostel. People usually do a good job at cleaning up after themselves.

Washing dishes after the kids enjoyed a meal in Copenhagen.
Lunch time in the hostel dinning room while people watching

Every hostel kitchen comes equipped with a fridge, stove, oven and utensil for cooking and eating. Boxes are available for you to grab and put your food in, label it and store it in the fridge.

Kitchen at the our hostel in Chicago
As you can see everything in the fridge at our Chicago Hostel is in a labeled box.

Where Are The Best Hostel For Kids?

It is fun to stay in a hostel with kids, however it is also important to note that not all hostels are kid friendly. It is important for families to make sure that they do enough research prior to booking a hostel with kids.

Hanging out on the top bunk of Aiden’s bed in our Copenhagen hostel

So far we have stayed in hostels in many different cities/countries as you can see listed below. Each hostel was very different and offered a different experience for us all. We have loved staying in every single one of them so far without any complaints. (I’ll make sure to update this list every time we stay at a new hostel).

Other really good and well known family hostels are:

  • YHA International Hostels
  • Hana Hostels Japan
  • Stayokay Hostels Netherlands
  • Generator Hostels

Planning a trip and wondering how to get affordable flights? Then click the links below to read exactly how I am able to get flight deals, save on flights and more.

Best Sites To Book Hostels

Booking a hostel with kids or even when traveling solo is a lot easier than you think. I’ve found all the hostels we’ve stayed in so far on TripAdvisor and Booking.com. I usually just type hostel and the city I want to visit and that’s it.

Other good websites to book hostels are:

Pros of Staying In A Hostel With Kids

1. Hostels, in general, are cheap compared to staying in a hotel or serviced apartments. Staying in hostels is a great option especially if you are going to stay for a good amount of time.

Many modern hostels can be booked for a group which means that you will be sharing the space with your family members.

2. Most hostels are located in great locations such as touristy areas and most likely close to public transport lines. Location plays an important part in choosing a place to stay during vacations.

If you are looking for an accommodation that is within walking distance to many tourist sites or malls, then you will never go wrong with a hostel.

Things To Do In Chicago In The Winter With Kids
Our Chicago Hostel was close to the bus and metro station

3. Most hostels provide a communal kitchen where you can cook and prepare your own food. That way, you will be able to save a lot of money from eating out in restaurants or fast food joints. It can also be a great way to meet other travelers and learn a thing or two.

Billund Denmark With Kids The Original Legoland Theme Park and Lego House
Having Malt-O-Meal for breakfast at our Billund, Denmark Hostel

4. Hostels may be inexpensive in general but it does not mean that the service is inferior. Most hostels, if not all, have courteous and helpful staff who can help you with your travel itinerary or extend their assistance in whatever means necessary.

5. Many hostels have game rooms which are really great for children since they can take a break from all the walking and touristy activities and just have a time for themselves.

Billund Denmark With Kids The Original Legoland Theme Park and Lego House

6. Your children will appreciate the opportunity to meet so many different people from all over that they can chat with in the halls, in the common areas and even during meal times.

7. Lots of other families stay in hostels too, making the environment very family friendly.

Cons Of Staying In A Hostel With Kids

1. Shared bathrooms can be tricky. The bathroom is usually located at the end of the hallway and families may not like the inconvenience of having to leave their room to use the bathroom or to shower.

2. Shared bathrooms are not only tricky, but even trickier when traveling with a child of the opposite sex. When traveling with the boys (Aiden & Ethan), we have to use the women’s showers etc.

Good thing everyone is always decently dressed, however sometimes it can be uncomfortable knowing they are the only boys in there. Think about taking your son into the women’s locker room or changing rooms – that’s the same feeling.

3. Space can be an issue. Hostels are generally smaller than hotel rooms, so if you need space in you room, a hostel may not be right for you.

Our hostel in Hong Kong had a TINY private bathroom with the shower above the toilet seat.

Tips For Staying In A Hostel With Kids

Here are some helpful tips when travelling and staying at a hostel with kids:

1. Hostels are great places to meet people from all over the world. Although it is a common practice for parents to remind their children not to talk with strangers, allow your kids to interact with other guests or even with the staff.

However, always keep an eye on them so you will know what is happening. Interacting with other people is also a good learning experience for the kids as they will be able to mingle with different other people and even learn new things. However, always remind your children never to walk away with strangers.

2. Remind your kids to be more considerate of the other guests. Teach your kids proper manners by making sure that they do not make too much noise especially at nighttime.

It is also important to teach your kids the importance of personal space so they will learn not to bother the other guests.

3. Make sure to read reviews from other guests so you will be able to set realistic expectations. You can also book a bigger or more spacious room so your kids will have ample space to be kids.

Choosing the appropriate room will ensure that everyone in your group will fit in just right and will have a comfortable stay.

We booked one of the biggest hostel room in Chicago

4. Before you book your accommodation, make sure that you have emailed or spoken to the hostel staff to clarify if the facilities in the hostel are appropriate for kids.

You can also communicate with the staff beforehand and inform them that you will be travelling with kids so they can make the necessary arrangements.

5. Make sure to pack light. Some hostels can be very small, and if your luggage is too big then there won’t be any place to store it. There are storage lockers available, however they can only fit a small luggage or backpack. We are used to flying budget airlines like Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines, so packing all out stuff in our backpacks has gotten much easier.

Must Haves When Staying In A Hostel With Kids

Every hostel is different, and not all hostels offer the same amenities as the other. For example in the US, the hostels we stayed in didn’t offer bathroom slippers, however they did offer towels.

In Asia the hostels offered slippers and a caddy, however there was a fee to rent a towel. In Europe, there was a fee to rent the bed linen and towels. Do note that these fees are usually very minor, however you can avoid some of these fees by being ready with your own things.

Some travelers may not be too keen in staying in hostels with kids but there are certain advantages of booking one. Do remember that modern hostels now have better facilities that are not just intended for backpackers.

There are now many hostel accommodations that are designed for families, making them a great option for the most avid budget-conscious travelers.

Tips & Tricks For Booking An Affordable Family Vacation
  • Flights
  • Accommodation
  • Activities / Excursions
  • Rental Cars
  • Cruise
  • Travel Insurance
    • Purchase must have travel insurance through Allianz
  • Looking to save even more money when you travel? Visit my Travel Resources page to see all the reliable and trustworthy brands that I use to book my travel with. I only recommend brands that I’ve used and can vouch for, so you’re in good hands!
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