Are hostels safe? This is a common question that people have before their first stay in a hostel.
Hostels are a great form of budget accommodation that allows you to travel the world for cheap, but does the price mean there is a lack of safety in hostels?
As a full-time traveller, and a budget traveller who always stays in hostels, I am here to provide an answer to this important question, as well as give you tips for how to stay safe in a hostel.
Are hostels safe?
While it’s impossible to say that every single hostel in the world is safe (because there are some dodgy ones out there), hostels, for the most part, are safe.
Of course, it’s impossible to guarantee your safety anywhere, even in a 5* hotel, but most hostels are pretty safe, yes.
There is mutual respect amongst hostel stayers that creates a safe environment for those staying in the hostel. Unofficial “hostel rules” also add to the safety.
Naturally, you are going to be less safe sleeping in a room with strangers than you would be sleeping in a room on your own.
But this doesn’t make hostels unsafe! Hostels are less safe, sure, but they are still safe.
Don’t just take my word for it, in a survey conducted by the International Youth Hostel Federation, over 90% of hostel stayers had no safety concerns.
I have stayed in hostels all over the world and never had an issue with safety. In fact, I encourage people to stay in hostels over hotels.
Hostels allow you to meet amazing people. Before staying in my first hostel, I had heard stories about how easy it was to meet new people and make friends in a hostel. But I didn’t realise how easy it actually was.
In my opinion, it’s the easiest place to meet new people anywhere in the world. And I think the hostel life quote “Hostel life: where strangers become friends and every day is an adventure” perfectly summarises this.
To go back to the question of “Are hostels safe?” the answer is yes.
But make sure to do your due diligence before booking a hostel. Read the reviews and research the location to look for any red flags when it comes to safety. There more than likely won’t be, but it’s better to be safe than be sorry, right?
Also while in hostels, it’s important to follow important personal safety rules. I’ll discuss these further later in the hostel safety tips section.
Are hostels safe? Yes, they are.
Are hostels safe for solo travellers?
Yes, hostels are safe for solo travellers. You’ll find that most people staying in hostels are actually solo travellers.
Staying in a hostel as a solo traveller provides the opportunity to meet new people, and as I said before, hostels are the best way to make new friends while travelling.
Hostels are also much cheaper than hotels, which is one of the main hostel and hotel differences. So for this reason too, you’ll find a lot of solo travellers in hostels.
As most people are solo, everyone is in the same boat and that’s one of the things that make hostels safe. There’s no hierarchy or anything. Everyone is there for similar reasons and just wants to use the hostel as a place to sleep, eat and meet people.
Are hostels safe for female travellers?
While I can’t answer this question from personal experience as I am not a female traveller, I can say that I have met a lot of female travellers staying in hostels and they all seemed to feel completely safe.
Unfortunately, as the way of the world, women need to take more safety precautions in most scenarios and in a hostel is no different. Although it’s a very very small percentage of people, there are some weirdos out there who stay in hostels for the wrong reasons.
Most hostels also have the option of female-only dorms so if you are female and have safety concerns, it’s possible to avoid sharing a room with males. To be honest, if I could, I would too with how some guys snore!
Are hostels dangerous?
No, hostels are not dangerous. Of course, it’s impossible for me to come out and say that every single hostel in the whole world is not dangerous, most hostels are safe.
Sure, there’s less privacy and some things to get used to when staying in hostels, but they’re pretty safe.
When booking a hostel on Hostelworld, you can see a safety rating for the hostel, and read reviews of previous guests to see how they felt about the hostel.
But in terms of staying in a hostel, it is safe. Everyone has mutual respect as you are all in the same boat.
Sure, if you leave shower gel in the shower, someone’s going to take it. But there’s rarely anything more than this.
Make sure you keep valuables in your locker, and other than this, there’s not really anything to worry about in hostels. They’re not dangerous.
Josh’s Hostel Safety Tips
Although we have discussed that hostels are safe, it’s important to follow basic personal safety rules in hostels. Some people think backpacking is dangerous, but it’s not, if you take personal safety seriously. But here are some tips to help you stay safe when staying in a hostel anywhere in the world.
1. Read the reviews
This one sounds obvious but I have heard so many stories of people staying in horror hostels.
Before booking a hostel, simply read the reviews. Sort by the most recent so you can see what people who have stayed there recently are saying.
It’s important to read recent reviews as a hostel may have come under new ownership, or may have a bed bug infestation, things change quickly so read the most up-to-date reviews.
You can see whether a hostel is 1) worth staying in and 2) safe.
Sometimes you can find full in-depth reviews of a hostel from a blog site like mine. For example, I have a review of Next House Copenhagen from my stay there.
2. Check the security rating
On top of reading the reviews, check the security rating.
Hostelworld has ratings for a number of categories for every single hostel on its site.
The scores are out of 10 and give a good overview of the standard of a hostel.
I wouldn’t stay in a hostel with anything below 7-8 in security personally, but it’s up to you how high you hold your standard.
3. Bring a lock
One of the best tips for people staying in a hostel for the first time is to bring a lock.
Most hostels will have lockers where you can store your bags, documents and other valuables, but locks are not provided, so you need to bring your own lock.
You can also use the padlock to lock your bag in the airport and stuff so it’s always best practice to pack a lock.
4. Don’t leave things unattended
This should be common sense but some people forget they are staying in a shared space and not a private room.
Don’t leave your phone, your bag, your passport, or anything, unattended.
It leaves the door open for people to steal your things. Either have it on your person or store it safely in a locker.
5. Stay on the bottom bunk
Not only does this make it more convenient for getting in and out of bed, and for packing and unpacking your bag, but in the case of an emergency, you don’t have to climb off the top bunk.
If the fire alarm goes off during the night, for example, you can get up and on your feet a lot quicker.
Also, if you are getting into bed late at night, it’s such an inconvenience having to climb a ladder in the dark while trying to be quiet.
6. Learn the area
Before staying in a hostel, I learn 3-4 streets or blocks in each direction so I know the area in close proximity to the hostel.
This means if anything were to happen, I can get back to the hostel without Google Maps.
It also just makes it easier for daily life when leaving the hostel to go to a shop or something.
7. Leave the valuables at home
You don’t need a Gucci watch or a £300 pair of trainers to stay in a hostel.
Leave the expensive things at home.
If you do get things stolen from you (unlikely but still a possibility), you’d rather lose a £20 pair of shoes than £300, right?
Hostel life isn’t flashy, so don’t bring unnecessarily expensive things.
8. Make a trustworthy friend
Making a good friend at a hostel not only allows you to, well, have a good friend, it means you can go out clubbing or drinking etc, and have trust in each other to make it back to the hostel safely.
Obviously, trust is built so don’t trust someone with your life after one conversation. Make sure you get to know the person first.
9. Keep family at home updated
While travelling long term and far away from home, I always keep family at home updated when I reach a new destination or stay in a new hostel.
This means that if anything bad was to happen, your place of stay is known.
If you want to take it a step further, you can let them know when you are going out for a meal or what you are doing during the day etc., so your exact location is known at all times.
10. Trust your instinct
Lastly, trust your instinct. If something seems or feels off, it probably is. If someone is acting weird, stay away from them. If it means asking to change room, ask to change room.
Your instinct is your safety bell, and if it starts to ring, make sure you get yourself to safety.
Are hostels safe: FAQ
Below are some common questions related to “Are hostels safe?” along with my answers.
Yes, it’s safe to sleep in a hostel. That’s what hostels are designed for: cheap places to sleep. While sleeping in a hostel, you don’t ever completely black out, or at least I don’t, I always have one ear open and I am aware of my surroundings even though I am asleep.
Aside from the obvious don’t hurt anyone or steal from anyone, you shouldn’t turn the light on if people are sleeping, you shouldn’t leave the bathroom a mess, and you shouldn’t talk loudly in the room if people are asleep, amongst other things.
It’s not recommended to leave things in a hostel unattended. But most hostels have lockers where you can leave stuff. Make sure you have your own padlock.
Yes, Hostelworld is the best platform for booking a stay in a hostel anywhere in the world. Each hostel has ratings in a number of categories including security, where you can see what previous guests scored any hostel out of 10 for safety.
Yes, hostels are safe in Europe. It was in Europe that hostels originated, so some of the best and safest hostels in the world are found in Europe. Of course, it’s impossible to say that every single hostel is safe, there are going to be some dodgy hostels, but for the most part, hostels in Europe are safe.
Are hostels safe: Conclusion
And there you have it, a complete guide to “Are hostels safe?”. My answer, while I can’t personally guarantee your safety, is yes, hostels are safe.
Staying in a hostel provides great opportunities to meet new people and save money while travelling. As long as you follow the 10 safety tips I have outlined, you should have no problems whatsoever.
I hope you enjoy your trip, wherever you are going, and most importantly, I hope your hostel is great! 😀