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Goodbye New Jersey. Hello World! A record of my journey as I give up my job, my possessions, and life as I know it to go off and see the world!

Designing My Dream Hostel

NEW ZEALAND | Sunday, 6 March 2011 | Views [4969] | Comments [5]

So I would say I have stayed in about 50 hostels now since I started traveling 8 months ago. I’ve been to some amazing ones, average ones, and god awful ones. Over the months I have developed a list of “little things” that hostels can have that really make a difference. I am pretty sure now that if I were to open and run a hostel now it would be amazing because I can pretty much anticipate all the backpackers needs. I would like to now share with you the top things that would be in my dream hostel (keep in mind that I have seen each one of these in at least one hostel along the way).

Lauren Watson’s hostel would have….

(1) Free wifi available everywhere in the hostel, including the dorm rooms. Nothing beats waking up in the morning and checking my facebook without getting out of bed (something I bet a lot of you non-travelers take for granted).

(2) Lockers with plugs inside so you can charge your valuables without worrying.

(3) Free towels provided. I think I’ve had this happen in only 2 hostels but it was amazing each time! No wet towel to pack when I left!!!

(4) Free linen. I’m sorry but it is absolutely ridiculous that some hostels charge.

(5) Hand soap in all the toilets as well as towels, preferably paper ones (feels more hygienic to me).

(6) A hook to hang your towel next to the bed instead of finding creative ways to use the bars in the bunk

(7) Bunks made of good, solid wood that don’t wobble when the other person tosses and turns at night.

(8) Space under the bunks to slide your bags under.

(9) Individual reading lights with each bed. This (a) allows you to read without a flashlight and (b) keeps the lights dim for people that want to go to sleep early.

(10) Free complimentary breakfast. So common in Europe, few and far between in Australasia. The best free breakfast I received was heart shaped waffles at a hostel in Vilnius. Complimentary tea and coffee all day is a bonus.

(11) Either free or cheap hostel dinners. This is great because (a) it’s perfect for the wallet and (b) it brings people together at the same time so you can get to know other travelers.

(12) Fun activities every night where people can get to know each other. This can be open mike night, a pub crawl, or some fun competition/game.

(13) A large kitchen heavily supplied with cutlery, pots, pans, mugs, etc. Oh and a clean one, too.

(14) Showers separate from the toilets that way if you just need the toilet you don’t have to wait forever for it in the morning.

(15) Complimentary maps that have labeled all essential places in the city as well as the big tourist attractions.

(16) A cozy common room with bean bag chairs, couches, and a billiards table.

(17) Free transport/pickup if the hostel is not close to the train station/bus station.

(18) If the hostel is in Asia then complimentary help with buying future train and bus tickets.

My dream hostel would also be smaller with more a feel of a home as opposed to a hotel. Is this list unreasonable? I think not. A happy backpacker is a respectful backpacker, and one who recommends the place to others. If you can think of anything else to add to the list please leave your comments.

Tags: hostel



Hi Lauren,

I've shared your story with our travel community on the WorldNomads Facebook fanpage. We think it's a great post and that they would enjoy it too.

Happy travels,
World Nomads

  Alicia Mar 25, 2011 10:18 AM


I have stayed in many hostels around the world and I think that is a very doable list. I often think how well I could run a hostel! I particularly despise people who come in and turn the light on. I also agree about finding a creative place to hang your wet towel. I always carry a travel clothesline and usually found creative places to string it. I also think that hostels should provide machines or tubs to wash your clothes and a line to hang it on! In 3 months I only paid to have laundry done once thus saving quite a bit of money. I used to either wash my clothes in the shower or in the handbasin. Something I found really handy was an email from Southern Comfort Hostel in Cusco what I should expect to pay for a taxi from either the airport or bus station to the hostel. This was invaluable when trying to negotiate a taxi cost and felt confident negotiating knowing what I should be paying! I found taxi drivers the biggest rip off artists in South America!

  Jennifer Mar 25, 2011 7:27 PM


love your list! we're doing pretty good with all of those at our hostel in Bogota, Colombia....but we love when travelers give tips like these!

  Casa Bellavista Hostel Mar 29, 2011 11:46 AM


HI Lauren! Your list is great! I am currently living and working at a hostel called Yamanya Backpackers in Cusco Peru. It´s under a year old and it has everything you mentioned except for the free towels (you can buy them for 20 soles or 8 USD), plugs in the lockable cubbies, and individual reading lights. There is also a super small fee for being picked up or taken to the airport. Not bad though. If you ever come to Cusco you should definitely stay here. I think you´d be quite happy.

  Amy Brown Apr 7, 2011 4:34 AM


found your site after i search for my new house design... i like to have a guest house or hostel similar interior design (is always very cozy and full of storage and creativity ideas)... wonder if you can recommend any places you've stayed before that i can make reference to...

  Carine Nov 24, 2011 1:01 AM

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