Are hostel showers gross? No! Or, at the very least, usually not. You can handle this.
I get why the issue of bathrooms and showers is a sensitive one to so many travelers. It's not just about being hygienic. It's also about the ritual of refreshment and relaxation that helps start and conclude a day. It can wash away a horrible day or, like my case in Italy, make a good day even better. And it just feels darn nice.
And that's probably why so many of my readers who want to try staying in hostels or budget accommodations for the first time (or are interested in giving them another shot after a long hiatus) are sheepishly and nervously asking...."Um..... How do I shower in a hostel?"
Hostels ARE for everyone.
We love how they're often found in buildings with historic designations or environmental certificates and, in particular, how Hostelling International is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to their local and global communities, eager to welcome travelers of all ages. We don't stay in hostels all the time, but they're a key part of our value travel philosophy and we've never been disappointed with our choices.
Guess what? A lot of hostel bathrooms are nice. REALLY nice.
Even older hostels can have decent bathrooms.
Flip flop, towels, and gear considerations.
You'll also need a way to carry your shower toiletries and hang them up. Nope, this is not the same as your toiletry bag, as there's no need to bring everything in and get it all wet. I'm talking a mesh bag or carrier that keeps everything together and easily air dries afterwards. (You can find a good one here).
Finally, you'll need something to put your clothing in - either another mesh bag or a water resistant plastic bag of some kind. This is extra important if you're in a co-ed dorm or prefer not to change into shower clothes/wrap yourself in a towel before leaving for the shower stalls.
A little etiquette goes a long way.
If you're showering during peak times, keep it short and sweet. If someone is in the shower for a ridiculous amount of time, a courteous "How much longer will you be?" is an appropriate hint.
Clear away your trash and immediately report any yucky situations to the staff. Many hands make light work!
Pro tip - when you check in, ask the staff what times the bathrooms are busiest and what time they're shut down for cleaning. And then time your shower for right after they've been cleaned!
Finally, do not, under any circumstances, indulge in shower romance. You don't have to go THAT far to help keep your community smiling.
The questions you're afraid to ask.
What about soap? Even the most basic of hostels will sell standard hygiene items and many have a general purpose liquid soap dispenser in the showers. (Check out the photo - see, there's soap! Thank you to Cailin O'Neil for this photo at Hosteling International Seattle).
Will I have to pay? Almost certainly no. Once fairly common, the coin operated hot water tank system has almost vanished. I've only ever encountered them twice, both at North American campgrounds. And I actually loved it. Great for the environment, great for preserving the hot water supply. The good news is that if a hostel does have coin operated showers, this will stick out like a sore thumb and your guide book will definitely mention it.
Your secret hesitations.... reassured!
Darn right. Heck, I can barely operate taps in my own country. But you'll find strange faucets in hotels too. At least in a hostel you can just ask another traveler what the deal is with all the weird levers.
Really? All of this sounds like a lot just for a shower.
Then don't take one! If you're comfortable with showering every second day, skip taking a shower at a hostel if you're only there for a night and bathe in luxury once you check into your next hotel.
But I've heard horror stories about hostel bathrooms.
Yep. Because there are horrible hostels out there. But we don't stay at poorly reviewed hostels that cater to a party crowd and you probably shouldn't either. We select every hostel we visit with care and we haven't had a disaster yet.
Is this going to be awful?
Nope. Almost definitely not. And, if you've absolutely hated it, well, you can go to the spa with the money you saved. Even if you won't be able to replicate my Italian marble-esque skin from all those years ago, trust me. You can do this and it's definitely worth trying.
Alright - tell us! Would you be willing to brave a hostel shower?
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Hostel Review: Old Plovdiv
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