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a happy couple lays on a queen-sized bed in a private room at a a HI USA hostel laughing and looking at a book

How to Make a Hostel Stay More Romantic

Let’s face it: romance and hostels probably don’t immediately come to mind at the same time. However, I’m of the firm opinion that a romantic vacation doesn’t have to be just a privilege for those people who can afford (and want) to stay in an expensive, fancy hotel. Believe it or not, it is possible to have a fun, affordable, and yes, even romantic, stay at a hostel.

My partner and I frequently stay in hostels together. We just spent the last two years traveling full time, and during that time we stayed in many hostels. We had fun meeting other people and joining group events, but sometimes we just wanted to reconnect and have a more romantic experience – whether that was because of a special event (like Valentine’s day or a birthday) or just plain travel burnout.

Here are my best tips for making a hostel stay more romantic, based on my personal experience hostelling as a couple.

Stay in a Private Room

a comfortable private room at HI Sacramento hostel

I get it: listening to a stranger snore while you and your partner sleep in separate bunk beds doesn’t exactly scream romance. That’s why my first and most obvious tip for making a hostel feel more romantic is to book a private room, not a dorm room.

Some people don’t even realize that most hostels have private rooms, just like a hotel. If you want more privacy, then stay away from the dorm beds and get your own room.


a bouquet of pink flowers on a bedside table beside a bed with cream-colored sheets and pillows

Try elevating your hostel room with some romantic decorations. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to do this: something as simple as a bouquet of flowers for the bedside table can go a long way. If you have a polaroid camera, take some cute photos of the two of you and lay them out. The options are endless!

Use Lighting and Scent

a bed with blue pillows against a wood-paneled wall with string lights hanging above

Along the same lines as decorations, be sure to incorporate all your senses! Use low lighting to add a more romantic ambience to your hostel room. The easiest, free way to do this? Turn on the bedside lamp and leave the overhead light off. You could even bring some fairy lights from home, or some fake candles (avoid real candles, as they’re likely to set off the hostel’s smoke detectors and ruin the vibe).

Adding scent to the equation can really step up the romance, too. Spritz a bit of perfume or cologne throughout the room, dab some essential oil on the pillows, or plug in a scent diffuser.

Put on Some Music

Hostels are communal places, and chances are you might hear other guests walking down the halls or in the bathrooms. Make your room feel a bit more special and private by playing some of your favorite romantic music from your phone or a small speaker on low volume.

Go Out for a Nice Dinner

an overhead view of a multi-course dinner lad out on a table with a glass of red wine

One great thing about hostels is that they usually come with a shared kitchen where you can cook meals with other guests and save money. That’s… not very romantic, though.

So pick a night to treat yourself, and your partner, by leaving the hostel for a nice dinner out. If that’s not in the budget, consider prepping a picnic and eating al fresco in a nearby park.

Turn on a Movie

a young couple sitting in bed watching a movie on a laptop while eating popcorn

Why not pack your laptop and set up a cute movie night in your hostel room? Pop some popcorn in the communal kitchen, and then choose a cheesy rom com, a horror movie that will get you cuddling, or whatever your preference is. The point is to carve out some private time for you and your partner.

Limit Your Socializing

two young women walking on the beach with their arms around each other's shoulders

On that note, you may want to limit your normal hostel socializing if you’re looking to home in on the romance. Hostels are social places – that’s part of their beauty! However, playing cards with a new friend at the hostel bar or having a third (or fourth, or fifth) wheel on your special couple’s retreat may not exactly be your definition of romance.

It’s okay to limit the normal hostel socializing and focus on you and your partner if that’s what you’re looking for – the group activities and common areas will be there for you when you’re ready.

…Or Don’t!

Alternatively, forget my advice above and dive into socializing at the hostel. Sometimes, meeting new people with your partner can be just the type of rejuvenation that you need in your relationship.

Through traveling you will see the world, and your partner, through new eyes – which you may find increases the romance in its own way.