Hostels for Adults: My Favorite Options for 30-Something Travelers

Hostel for adults in Chicago; HI Chicago

Since I started traveling full-time again in my 30s, I’ve been thinking about hostels for adults. (Raise your hand if you’ve ever Googled that phrase) I love the privacy and comfort of Airbnbs and guesthouses, but that can get lonely — sometimes, you just want some insta-friends to have a beer with! And if you’re a social creature like I am, one of the hardest parts of traveling is going days without having a substantial in-person conversation with anyone. (Plus, the lower price tag helps your budget stretch much farther in a city like New York or London.)

Theoretically, a hostel would be the perfect solution. But then you think back to your 20s backpacking days — tiny, stinky rooms crowded with dorm beds, loud drunk people coming in and out, the general untidiness…and it starts to sound less appealing. 

And then you consider the idea of being the only old person in a building full of 18-year-olds on a gap year.

Here’s the good news: great hostels for adults DO exist. It just takes a bit of trial and error (and a bit of extra research) to find them. So, I’ve decided to make a list! Bookmark this page — I’ll add to it every time I find a great new hostel.

Ready to jump right to my recommendations for hostels for older people?

London
Chicago
Kuala Lumpur

Also: the links on this page are affiliate links. Learn what that means here.

How to Spot an Adult-Friendly Hostel

Just for reference: I’m 37. Here are some of the things I look for when I’m considering hostels for adults:

  • Quiet nights: I’m old. I love to sleep. If I find any mention of loud music in the lobby or the words “party hostel”, I am out. If a review mentions that a hostel is “boring”, it’s probably a good sign.
  • Privacy: I didn’t like sleeping in an open bunk when I was in my 20s — I’m certainly not into it now! If possible, I like a hostel with an affordable private bedroom. That way, I can socialize as I please. (Or not.) If that’s not possible, I’m okay with those bunk beds that have the curtains. Even better? A capsule-style room where I get my own little pod.
  • Big common space: This is one of the most important things I look for in a hostel for adults, especially if the only option is bunk beds. Why? I like a spot to eat dinner or do a little work without being right next to another person. That way, I can find someone to chat with if I’m in the mood, or just enjoy being near people without interacting.
  • Excellent internet: I work while I travel, and I like to watch Netflix as I fall asleep. (Michael Scott is very comforting when everything around you is new.) That means I need fast, stable internet. A pattern of reviews that mention crappy Wi-Fi? Deal-breaker.
  • Female-only rooms: After sharing dorm rooms with stanky male travelers in my 20s, I have zero interest in repeating the experience. When dorms are the only option, I always go for women-only rooms.

My Favorite Hostels for Adults

As mentioned above, I’ll add to this list as I find more hostels that are acceptable for 30-something (or 40-something, or older) travelers. 

London: Palmer’s Lodge in Swiss Cottage

I love London, but it can get really expensive. When I’m there, my main goal is to find a hostel I’m comfortable staying in as an adult. Palmer’s Lodge in Swiss Cottage is a great option. The beds have curtains that pull across, so you can create a comfortable little getaway. Plus, they have female-only dorms.

Adult-friendly hostel in London (courtesy of David Kadavy under CC BY 2.0)

This hostel is about 5 minutes from the Swiss Cottage stop on the Jubilee Line. The neighborhood is gorgeous and super safe. There’s a Starbucks within 10 minutes, as well as an M&S Food and a cute little farmer’s market. I also love the laundry in the building — it’s so handy, and you don’t have to drag your dirty clothes all over London.

There’s a common lounge on the main floor, but it’s often crowded and the furniture is a bit rough. That’s actually my biggest issue with this hostel, but Since London is so fantastic, though, I don’t spend a lot of time there.

Oh — the locker/drawer things are a little bit small, and don’t fit anyone’s suitcase, so storage can be an issue. (WHY do people do the hostel thing with enormous full-size suitcases?) I just removed some of my packing cubes (see how I use packing cubes) and tucked them into the drawer along with my toiletries and stuff. But! The prices are good, and I saw plenty of other older travelers wandering in and out.

If you need an alternative with more common space, I didn’t mind Safestay Elephant & Castle in London; lots of space to work, and curtains around the bed. I liked the neighborhood less, but it’s just fine.

Chicago: Hosteling International Chicago

HI Chicago is one of my favorite hostels for adults, anywhere in the world. It’s all about the location — right downtown, just a half mile from Lake Michigan. You can take the Blue Line train from the airport and get off a few minutes away. There’s a Panera Bread and a CVS on the same block. The excellent downtown Chicago library is right around the corner (an awesome place to work if you’re a digital nomad!).

The dining room in HI Chicago. Lots of room to eat or work!

I stay in the dorms, which are reasonably priced (private rooms are not; you’re better off in a hotel). The beds don’t have curtains, but the ceilings are so high and the rooms so spacious that it doesn’t actually matter. Each floor has a big bathroom with lots of space for toiletries, and each bed comes with a roomy locker. The female economy 10-bed rooms are massive.

Where this hostel really stands out is in the common areas. They are huge, and they look out over downtown Chicago. You can grab a little table and work for hours, and no one will bother you. Plus, the kitchen is big and has everything you need. Breakfast is included; it’s not awesome, but it’s not terrible. And there’s coffee. This hostel also has a laundry and separate, smaller kitchens on each floor.

My favorite thing? This hostel has luggage lockers, which are really hard to find in Chicago. They’re big enough to fit my suitcase and laptop backpack, with lots of room to spare. You can use them if you arrive early or if you have time after checkout — just make sure to bring your own lock, or buy one at the CVS down the street.

Kuala Lumpur: The Bed KLCC

Okay. Of all the hostels for adults in the world, The Bed KLCC in Kuala Lumpur might just be the best value. Ever. It is so cheap! And so nice! (Seriously, go look at the prices. You’ll die.)

Hostel for adults in Kuala Lumpur
The Bed KLCC — the best hostel for adults in Kuala Lumpur!

When you dream of the best hostel for adults, this is it. Let’s start with the capsules, which are HUGE. Huge! They are tall and wide, so you can kneel in the bed without hitting your head. Also, there’s a recessed compartment, a mirror, a shelf, lights, and power outlets. Under the capsule, there’s a big fat drawer that fit my two-wheel suitcase just fine. Each bed features a pull-down screen thing that’s slightly transparent; you can see the silhouette of the person when the light’s on inside the capsule. (Just something to consider before you change your clothes inside with the light on.)

And the cleanliness! You’re not allowed to wear shoes in the rooms, so they are gorgeous. Plus, they’re new. And dark, And gloriously silent. If you spent your 20s in gross $5 hostels in Thailand, this is a SERIOUS upgrade. You get a little locker outside in the hallway for your shoes.

The best part of this adult-friendly hostel is the common area. There are two rooms: a lounge and a large kitchen. Both rooms are lined with huge windows, so there’s lots of natural light. With lots of places to sit, you can always find a place to work or eat dinner or watch Netflix. Oh, and speaking of Netflix — the Wi-Fi is great! Plenty fast for FaceTime and anything else you need.

Obviously the crowd will vary, but I found people willing to chat if I was in the mood, but also perfectly happy to let you work. There were quite a few people who were clearly digital nomads, so I felt right at home.

What else…the bathrooms are huge and cleaned frequently. Lots of sinks. The women’s bathroom even has a separate changing room area that has hair dryers, a big mirror, and a counter to do makeup. My only issue with the bathroom is that the showers don’t have separate changing areas, and the towels they give you aren’t really much for coverage. (You definitely don’t want to wander from the capsule room to the bathroom in them!) So you kind of have to hang your stuff up or pile it on one of the sinks while you shower.

Seriously; I can’t say enough about The Bed KLCC! It might be the best hostel for adults in the world.

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