Hostels are open and here’s what you need to know


We’re sure you’ve noticed that the world is a little trickier to navigate right now, and like you we’re backpackers with clipped wings, wondering when we’ll be free to roam again. Really free, like we were before. Travel is possible for many of us, we can take a ‘staycation’ or cross a nearby border, but where should we stay? Sure, remote cottages have an appeal, but if you’re craving humans, fun, that heady mix of combined cultures and soul-deep conversations, it’s gotta be a hostel.

We have great news for hostel lovers; hostels are open and they’re evolving. The priority is keeping travellers safe, without losing the social side we all stay in hostels for. So, what’s new in the hostelling world? Have a read! We’d love to hear your recent hostelling experiences too – comment below or message us on social @hostelworld.

Can I still stay in a hostel dorm?

hostels are open - bunk beds in a dorm room at canbe hostels

Photo credit: @canbe_hostels

Can travellers still stay in dorms? Yes, we can! Regular backpackers know that many a friendship begins from a casual bunkbed to bunkbed chat – often whispered as someone is always sleeping, no matter what time of day it is! Dorms are open, but you’ll find fewer people staying in them as hostels observe local social distancing rules. So, you may book into an 8-bed dorm and the maximum number of travellers allowed is 4. Some hostels will restrict dorms to pairs or groups travelling together. It really depends on local government guidelines.

If you’d rather have a space of your own, while still getting the sociability of a hostel, don’t forget that so many hostels have private rooms. Many have en-suite bathrooms too! Treat yo’self! Or if you’re lucky, you may get a free room upgrade.


Are hostels clean? 

hostels are open - two women holding cleaning products at the millennials hostel

Photo credit:

Back in the day, we had to do a bit of work convincing up-and-coming travellers that hostels are clean. In recent years we’ve had that conversation less and less because the world gets it, most hostels are super clean, and often fancy AF. But cleanliness has never been more important than it is right now, and therefore, like any other reputable business, hostels have upped their cleaning game. You’ll find hand-sanitising stations, masked staff, receptions with screens and even more cleaners than you’d usually spot.

Of course, every hostel is different and following their own government’s guidelines, but cleanliness is on everyone’s minds. We’ve even introduced a new sanitation badge which hostels can request if they’re completing a tick-list of hygiene measures. It’s their commitment to us and you. Look out for the little green shield with stars in, when you’re hostel hunting on our site.


hostels are open - lisboa central hostel on hostelworld with green hygiene shield


Will I still meet people in hostels? 

hostels are open - 3 people posing by the coliseum in rome

Photo credit: @theyellowrome

Okay, so we’ve established that hostels are doing everything to make our stays as safe as can be, but what about the socials? For so many of us, it’s the reason we choose hostels over all other types of accommodation – especially the solo travellers among us. Well, the good news is, that the social experience is still at the heart of the hostel stay. Activities like roof-top yoga and city walking tours have been easily modified to make them safe in this new world – hygiene and distance! Social spaces and common areas may have a one-way-system, but they are mostly open. Pub crawls, well that totally depends on where you are in the world, but if it’s safe they’ll be on! You may find yourself competing in socially distant beer-pong, or dancing in a glow-in-the-dark dance spot. Hostels are getting creative with their events because they know it’s why we pick them.


Can I book a hostel and cancel if I need to? (Flexible bookings)

hostels are open - yoga class on the terrace in the sun

Photo credit: @thisislisbonhostel

So, hostels may be clean, safe, and social, but with ever-changing travel restrictions, booking a trip can feel a little like Russian Roulette. The only way any of us are going to have the confidence to book is if we know we can cancel last minute or change the dates if we need to. That’s totally possible now, with new booking types to suit this chaotic world. If you book your hostels on Hostelworld, there are two booking types you should look out for.

  1. Free Cancellation – It does what it says on the tin and gives you free cancellation if needed. So, no questions asked, you can cancel on our app, or via your Hostelworld account, and receive a full refund on the deposit you’ve paid us. Depending on the hostel’s cancellation policy, you can cancel up to one day before your trip. So, this is a super-flexible option and when you go to book, you’ll be given an exact date you should cancel by.
  1. Flexible Non-Refundable Rate – Yep it’s a mouthful! But, if you choose this option when booking your stay, you will get the best available price. It’s the cheapest option that also allows you some flexibility, as you can change the dates if you need to. You book via Hostelworld, but if you do need to change the date, you just need to contact the hostel and let them know.

What’s the future of hostelling? 

hostels are open - two people standing in a dorm room at madama hostel milano

Photo credit: @madamahostelmilano

Oh, if only we had a crystal ball! We’d love to tell you that this virus will disappear as fast as it came, but quite clearly that’s not our area of expertise. Instead, we can share some of the things we’re up to, to future-proof our beloved hostelling adventures.

From the tech side, we’ve partnered with a super cool app and locking system called Goki. It’s like we (well they) predicted the future before this fiasco even began! It basically gives hostels a system to do contactless check-ins. So, for travellers, not keen on touching door handles and reception desk pens – it’s a seamless, touch-free and germ-free way of checking in to the hostel. You, the traveller, will have an app that’s akin to having hostel superpowers. Download your key before even arriving and use it to open doors, book events and network with other travellers. Yep, we prefer real-life mingling too, but this is a digital extension and a way of interacting with your fellow travellers from afar. This fancy new system is already available in some hostels, so keep an eye out for it.

Last, but not least, we reckon this is a chance for us all to reset and rethink how we travel and the impact we make on our planet and the communities we visit. Behind the scenes, we’re looking at how we can contribute to making the travelling world more sustainable and inclusive. We’ve shared a few bits already, like our partnership with WaterAid and signing a 5-year commitment to support the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative led by UN Environment Programme and the World Tourism Organisation, in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

There’s more to come and we hope you’ll take this journey with us!



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