Are hostel showers gross? No! Or, at the very least, usually not. This is what you need to know about showering in hostels. Updated 2023.
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 (I love this one from Eagle Creek), 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).
Alternatively, you can use toiletry containers like GoToobs which have attached suction cups. (Are they really worth the money? You can check out my review here.)
My personal hostel shower routine goes like this: First, I make a plan for the best time to shower. When is it quiet and when is it clean? Second, I organize my gear. I leave my main toiletry bag and 3-1-1 kit with my pack and just take my shower essentials in my mesh bag. Third, I stuff the clean clothing I'm going to change into, along with my towel, into a plastic bag. Forth - I make sure I have a spare bag to put my used, dirty clothing into. Then it's shower time!
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 hostel shower 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.
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Let's talk travel toiletries!
Travel Gear Review: GoToobs
Do You Need To Pack A Travel Towel?
Traveling With Bath Salts and Scrubs
My Tiny Travel Makeup Bag
Understanding 3-1-1 Kits and Liquid Toiletries
I have definitely experienced some dingy hostel bathrooms where I just refused to shower, they do exist. But 9 times out of 10 or even 97 times out of 100 the showers are fine or even excellent.
LOL to that last photo though of the two showers side by side with glass see through doors! haha
I know - Hoping it's got an extra layer of curtains! But at least they're CLEAN!
So far, in my experience, the percentage of disappointing hostel showers is the same as the percentage of disappointing hotel showers. There's no guarantee at any property but happily now with so many online review sites you can get a pretty good idea of who has a clean property.
Hmm. This almost--ALMOST--convinced me to try a hostel some day. But my issue isn't the shower--it's the toilet. As a person who wakes up AT LEAST 2x per night to pee, I can see all kinds of bad things happening (locking myself out, wandering into a dorm or bed that's not mine...). Also, I kind of imagined that hostels are like sharing one regular house bathroom with, like, 40 people. I imagined mornings to be a horror show of people needing to use the toilet and/or the shower, with lines snaking down hallways. Perhaps I'm wrong there?
Ha ha ha -I feel your pain! Ryan jokes that peeing is my hobby. This is one of the many reasons why I love private hostel rooms with ensuite bathrooms. All the privacy and comfort of a hotel room but at hostel prices and with hostel services.
In terms of the line ups, well........ at 'going out' time on Saturday nights in certain hostels, yep, there's a real line up. But as a much more boring person who gets up and goes to bed at an old person time, I've rarely encountered line ups.
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