Can you stay in hostels with kids? Absolutely. Hostels are no longer the main stay of the grungy backpacker. People from every walk of life stay at hostels. During our stay at Sydney Harbour YHA last week we saw several other families with children from small babies to teenagers, a group of older women, couples without kids and, of course, lots of younger backpackers. It may not have crossed your mind before but hostels are actually a great choice when travelling with kids. (You can read about our experience at the Sydney Harbour YHA in this post.)

 

Can You Stay in Hostels with Kids

 

Why Choose a Hostel When Travelling with Kids?

Access to a full kitchen is priceless. This is probably one of the main reasons I’d choose a hostel when travelling with kids. Having a kitchen to prepare simple meals is great for keeping costs down but it also helps for heating up bottles at night time, a quick breakfast so you can get out of the door in the morning and eating in when your child can’t take another night in a restaurant.

Common Area at Sydney Harbour YHA

The communal atmosphere of hostels. Spending time in common areas – TV rooms, kitchens and rooftop terraces is a great place to meet other travellers and chat about where they’ve been and where you’re going. This is something that is fairly unique to hostels and cheaper guesthouses.

Private rooms or family rooms work best for smaller families. Our room at Sydney Harbour YHA had a queen-sized bed for us and a trundle bed on the floor for Reubs. You could easily fit two kids into the trundle bed by topping and tailing. Larger families can book out a whole dorm room with 6 or 8 beds meaning there’s plenty of room for everyone.

Private Room at Sydney Harbour YHA

Emphasis on doing things cheaply. Not only are rooms cheaper in hostels but amenities tend to be more budget friendly too. 24 hours of fast Wifi internet only set us back $5 at the YHA in Sydney – considerably cheaper than you’d pay at a hotel. Staff know about things like local bus passes and cheap intercity transport options.

Access to a laundry. Kids are grubby little creatures and, if you travel light like us, you’ll need access to laundry facilities at least once or twice a week. We had one day in Sydney where Reuben went through three changes of clothes… a messy ice-cream was involved! Having a washer and a dryer is a huge bonus.

 

Tips for Staying in Hostels with Kids

  • Hostels will welcome families with children but use your best judgement – read reviews and make sure you’re not booking into a party hostel.
  • Avoid common areas later at night when people might be getting a bit rowdy.
  • Keep your kids under control… this goes for any situation but bear in mind your neighbours and hostel-mates in common areas especially if your kids are early risers.
  • Don’t assume that there will be a port-a-cot (port-a-crib) available. Check in advance if you need one.
  • Don’t book a hostel with lock out hours if your kids still need a nap or need quiet time during the day.
Do you stay in hostels with your kids? What are some of the best hostels you’ve found on your travels?

 

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Showing 32 comments
  • Kathryn
    Reply

    Couldn’t agree more about the value of kitchen access. I love mixing and matching hostels, hotels, and apartments. Each has their own pluses. The location the Sydney YHA is AMAZING!

    • Bethaney Davies
      Reply

      Absolutely agree that every form of accommodation has it’s own unique benefit. I do love a good hotel or holiday apartment too.

  • Izy Berry
    Reply

    Looks like a super tidy hostel and with a decent amount of space in that room, especially considering it’s Sydney! I love staying in hostels because of the kitchen facilities and it feels a lot less formal than a hotel. I’ve seen families book out entire dorm rooms – it must be so cool for the kids.

  • Elle
    Reply

    Had never thought of taking kids along to a hostel… but yeah, why not?!

    Have to say, the photos above show a much nicer hostel than those I’ve seen so far :o) Nicer than a lot of hotels too!

    Elle x

    • Bethaney Davies
      Reply

      The Sydney Harbour YHA is a reeeeally nice hostel. We did have a private room but the dorm rooms looked similar.

  • Jess with2kidsintow
    Reply

    Hi! We recently stayed in a hostel while visiting Launceston, Tasmania. We took a 4-bed dorm for our family of 4–the kids said that the bunk beds were the best part of the trip! As with you, there were a mix of people staying there, including a retired couple, an older woman who was visiting her mother who was in a nursing home, overseas backpackers as well as a few groups of younger people there to take in a music festival. We were worried about the noise level at night, but it was surprisingly not an issue (the reception staff actually advised us to call the police if it were). Staying at the hostel was the cheapest option for our family, although not by that much due to being charged per person.

    Interesting while in Asia a couple of years ago, we did come across a few hostels which stated that they had a minimum age of 18yrs for guests.

    • Bethaney Davies
      Reply

      Great Jess! I think the hostels in Australia are a great option for families because of the high cost of accommodation here.

  • Reply

    I once asked myself if my grandmother could stay at a hostel with me in Portugal. Everyone was not only willing, but also friendly, and it brought her back to her days traveling before kids. Hostels are, as you say, no longer just budget-friendly options for backpackers – there’s been a huge shift here in Spain, too. My friend opened a place here that actually caters to families, with a children’s play area free from stairs and full of toys!

  • Kathleen
    Reply

    This is a great idea….I truthfully never considered it now that I am traveling with my 5-year-old, but I agree: why not? Will have to keep this in mind for future travels!

    • Bethaney Davies
      Reply

      Great Kathleen. It’s definitely more on my radar now for future travels.

  • wanderingeducators
    Reply

    we’ve never stayed in hostels, but this makes me want to discover more. are any of them handicap accessible? i remember when i was in europe after college (WAY back in the day) and wanted to stay at a hostel, they were always located very far away from the train stations.

    • Bethaney Davies
      Reply

      The hostel itself is very wheelchair accessible (lifts, ramps etc) but the actual area would require you to taxi to and from as it’s up a reeeeeally steep hill!

  • Tiffany - Fite Inertia
    Reply

    In February, we stayed in a hostel in Conwy, Wales with our two boys, aged 9 & 10. We had a private room with two sets of bunks. This stay was the highlight of our 3 week trip (where we also stayed in London flats, hotels, and even on a boat!). The boys loved having the common room to watch a soccer game on the big screen, lots of people around to mingle with, and a grassy outdoor space. I had no idea how much that grassy area was needed – the boys ran and played and burned much needed energy off! The “homecooked” meal we prepared in the shared kitchen (simple pasta, salad and bread) was also the highlight, and the least expensive dinner on our entire trip. Go figure! We do plan to check out more hostels on our travels, however, interestingly it is rare to be much cheaper than hotels or certainly sublets.

    • Bethaney Davies
      Reply

      That’s great Tiffany!! Kids are amused by such simple things. Reuben had a great time playing on the roof terrace with another family that were staying at the hostel. We never really encounter kids like that when we’re staying in hotels. I think hostels are great option to throw into your repertoire of places to search for accommodation. We like to mix our accommodation up and stay in hotels and apartments too but I’ll definitely be looking at more hostels from now on.

  • Sandra Foyt
    Reply

    Especially in pricey cities, hostels can be a godsend! Research is key though, not all hostels are a great environment for children, whereas some are a great way to get to know the local culture.

    • Bethaney Davies
      Reply

      Absolutely Sandra. Accommodation in Sydney isn’t cheap so having an awesome hostel option really helps.

  • michelle
    Reply

    I was super nervous my first time in a hostel with kids, but it turned out fine. Definite must to check it out before you get there so you know you’re not getting into an inappropriate atmosphere for kids, but otherwise, save the money and stay!

    • Bethaney Davies
      Reply

      I was pretty conscious of Reuben’s noise levels going in but he was pretty well-behaved. The only point at which he lost it was at breakfast one morning! We didn’t have any problems with noise levels from younger hostel-goers despite the manager telling us there had been a big group partying on the weekend we were there!

  • Reply

    funny, we just wrote about this and now, i see what you mean. lovely that you are finding this a great option too. we adore hostels. 🙂 gabi

  • Marina K. Villatoro
    Reply

    When I traveled 12 years ago, via hostels only, i was hooked on only staying in hostels for the rest of my life, no matter how rich I am (still working on the rich part 🙂 or if I was traveling with kids or not.

    Some of the hostels I stayed at, actually most, were definitely not kid friendly at all.

    It’s great to see that they are becoming more for families!

  • Freya - Holiday Nomad
    Reply

    I agree with you there are many different type of hostels and you definitively do not want to end up in a party or dorm only hostel with kids. More and more hostels offer private and family rooms and having a kitchen available is indeed a major plus. If you pick out the good hostels which clearly you do judging from the photos, it’s a great way of traveling. You have your privacy but still meet lots of interesting people.

  • Micki
    Reply

    Hostels are always a great alternative, especially if they’re kid friendly. As a family of four, we usually rent apartments, but I’d definitely check out the Sydney Harbor YHA – it looks lovely.

  • Charli | Wanderlusters
    Reply

    Great advice re checking out reviews, we’ve met people from all walks of life who utilize hostels. I think people have the idea they all cater to party loving backpackers but this just isn’t the case!

  • lola
    Reply

    you are so brave!! but this place looks really really nice!

  • Jenna
    Reply

    I love this idea. I hadn’t thought of it, but it seems to make sense for the reasons you mentioned.

    • Bethaney Davies
      Reply

      Thanks Jenna. I hadn’t really thought of it either until now. 🙂

  • Blair
    Reply

    Hi Bethaney, I’m travelling with my 7 year old daughter throughout Japan during Aug/Sept. I’ve encountered some hostels don’t welcome children – do you know if this practice is common place?

    • Bethaney Davies
      Reply

      I’m not sure about hotels in Japan. I’ve only stayed in hotels there. Maybe it’s a culture thing in Japan? Maybe they don’t think it’s an appropriate for kids? I don’t actually know. Have you looked at Airbnb? If you want to, join our family travel group on Facebook and ask! There are over 500 family travellers in the group so someone will know. Here’s the link – https://www.facebook.com/groups/familieswholovetravel/

    • Jess With 2 Kids in Tow
      Reply

      Blair–we came across this at hostels in Malaysia quite often (but not all)–‘No Minors under 18’. It was quite frustrating; not sure of the reasoning. Good luck in Japan.

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