Last Updated on May 22, 2018 by Jeremy
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After the hurdle of deciding to stay in a hostel dorm has passed, the next biggest decision you will be faced with is choosing the size of room you wish to stay in. Starting from two beds all the way up to more than two dozen, dorm sizes come in all shapes and sizes with an appropriate cost to match. As it turns out, not all dorms are created equal and a lot of nuances come in to play when deciding your room size. When looking for holiday deals, do not forget to pick the appropriate room size, as a few dollars more may be all it takes to turn a nightmare experience into paradise.
Cost is Proportional to Size
In many cases, the cost of a dorm room is proportional to its size. A room for two will be more expensive than a room for four, which will be more expensive than a room for eight. This is not always the case, as some hostels have promotions and standard features where some rooms, regardless of capacity, are the same cost. For those who are traveling on an extreme budget, staying in the largest room typically provides the best bang for your buck. With its size, each room style has their own benefits and drawbacks that would reflect your own personal style when choosing.
Dorm for 2
Dorms built for just two people are increasingly rare as they can be often booked as a private room for a bigger fee. If being offered on a per bed basis, there is likely a specific reason as to why the room is not sold as a private, which most commonly translates to a lack of space. The two beds may be in bunk bed configuration; however, a few luxury hostels may actually provide a two bed dorm with all the amenities and space you could need.
It is hard to determine whether a dorm is the first or the latter unless the listing has pictures. This size room is perfect for those looking for privacy without paying the extra fee for a full private room. You could get lucky and not have a roommate for a night and essentially have a private for no extra cost.
Dorms for 3 to 6
The second class of dorms would be all sizes in the three to six person range. These rooms are larger than their dorm for two counterpart and can either provide large beds for each person or bunk beds. Dorm variability is at play in these rooms as some hostels have found ways to provide luxury in a small place while others are bare bones with minimal necessities.
With more people in the room, it is unlikely you will have the entire dorm to yourself for a night. But the trade off is having people to talk to, and direct conversation with other traveler's leads to making new friends and getting great travel advice. At six people or less, the room may have noise at all hours, but is minimal as your fellow roommates are coming and going.
Dorms 7 to 12
As the size of a room increases from six people, the likelihood of bunk bed configuration is guaranteed and more beds occupy as much available space as possible. These rooms will typically be significantly cheaper and will not always fill up to capacity every night. With more people in the room, your chances of being paired up with those that keep odd hours increases, and the likelihood of noise increases substantially.
Dorms Larger Than 12
Hostels that keep dorm rooms larger than twelve people per room are limited on space, but not afraid to maximize their earning capabilities. In many cases these hostels will only have one communal room that all travelers sleep in that could hold upwards of 30 beds or bunks that sit side by side in every inch of the room. They are the best deals of all hostels in terms of price, but include the drawbacks of significant noise and the fact that all thirty people will be sharing the same provided shower and toilet facilities.
Male / Female / Mixed Dorms
The final characteristic most dorms offer is either through staying in an all male dorm, an all female dorm, or in mixed dorms with both sexes sharing communally. All male dorms are standard accommodations like most other dorm rooms, except for the fact that they often come with a poor smell and are substantially messier than in mixed dorms (and likely cleaned with lesser frequency). Yes guys, you know you are messier when there are no women around.
Female dorms can be the same as most other dorms in some hostels, or fully loaded with special features in order to bring in interested travelers. Some of the more interesting additions to female only dorms include private corridors, specially designed rooms, and upgraded bathroom facilities. Many dorms even offer these rooms at the same price, or only at a slight premium that makes most guys jealous that all the rooms aren't like that.
Mixed dorms are a good balance as everyone is on their best behavior (unless a hostel is known for having such a reputation) in front of each other and otherwise a pretty habitable environment. Choosing to avoid a mixed dorm just because there will be the other gender room is a pretty big mistake, as everyone is capable of being friends regardless. For guys, getting away from the smell of an all guy room makes this one an easy choice.
When in Doubt, Trust a Review
If you ever find yourself in trouble while picking a dorm, just remember to use your feelings of reviews when picking a size, and sites like HostelWorld do a good job of getting representative samples from each hostel.
If someone reports having noise issues in a larger dorm, it is quite possible you will also have noise issues. When it could be just a dollar or two more per night to have more privacy and less noise, you may not always be too upset about the sudden splurge of a room. The only time when this does not come into play is when hostels charge upwards of 50% more for smaller rooms, and in this case your final choice comes easily!
Looking to book a dorm room? Check out the options at HostelWorld, one of our favorite hostel sites out there!
About the Author: Jeremy is a full-time travel writer based in Pittsburgh and primary author of this site. He has been to 70+ countries on five continents and seeks out new food, adventure activities, and off-the-beaten-path experiences wherever he travels.