I have been researching youth hostels outside the UK with a view to some last adventures. Now that I am really an old person (over 70) I can see that even in very attractive looking hostels, mixed dorms are often the norm. As an older woman i simply do not want to sleep in a room with men, mainly on aesthetic grounds and because men snore.
I was brought up in an era where mixed dorms would have been unthinkable, and in the UK, in IH hostels, it still is. I can also see from my researches that independent hostels are now overwhelmingly more numerous than IH hostels and often in unusual places one may wish to go, while the IH hostels are often sparsely distributed.
Are there any really mature women who have travelled using mixed dorms, or are you as repelled by the idea as I am?
I was looking in Eastern Europe the Mediterranean and in Western USA.
As an older woman i simply do not want to sleep in a room with men, mainly on aesthetic grounds and because men snore.
You should meet my wife, and also stayed in some of the hostel rooms I have, if you think only men snore
Yep, women snore too. I usually choose mixed dorms as I get to meet more people that way.
But to stick with Alison's query. There are plenty of male or female only dorms still out there. Have a look at the accommodation section here, or hostelworld.com and you can see many hostels offering this.
I have a great deal of respect for older travellers as I am turning into one too. One word of advice, if I may: A lot of hostels these day's cater mainly for youth. That's not to say one can't stay there. But they can be party hostels and they are not such nice places to stay if you are looking for a sound nights sleep. Mixed or all female dorms included. I would research the hostel out quite a bit and have a look at reader reviews to give you an idea.
All the best
There should be quite a few places still offering female only dorms. Often the bigger places will offer mixed as well as female only (and sometimes male only although that is rarer). It's usually not very clear from the descriptions though, so you have to actually dig through availability on individual hostels level which can be rather time consuming. If you know that HI Hostels (assume that was what you meant as I've never heard of IH hostels but please correct me if I'm wrong) always offer this, you can center your search around those (sort alphabetically here on TP for example). YHA hostels will in my opinion also often be better suited to a slightly older crowd. That's not to say they aren't fantastic hostels as they usually are! There'll be parties at most of these places but the bigger 'chains' like YHA and HI have more to lose overall by not having stricter rules in place for silence at certain times etc. They also usually have bigger buildings so can book people into rooms slightly more based on age than smaller places that don't have that luxury.
If you really get stuck in a place that doesn't have female only dorms you could try a private room (a lot of hostels have a few of these) or email them directly after booking (all reputable booking sites will give you direct contact details once you've booked) and ask if they can't try and put you in a room with only females. They can often manually arrange this even if they don't advertise as being 'female only'.
Hope that helps! Enjoy the travelling. A few years back I was stuck in Darwin a few nights and there was a guy in my room who was 80 something. It was great talking to him and hearing his stories but boy could he snore
I used to work in a hostel here in Sao Paulo - Brazil. For us, brazilians, the idea of a mixed room causes a like discomfort... And I first thought it would be difficult to manage the guests and all. But for my surprise, people from all over the world booked the mixed dorm and never really had any problems with that. We had 1 fem dorm and 1 mixed dorm. The female one was always kinda empty as eveyone booked the other one. Go figure... Probably expecting to meet more people... And I used that room as a twin private most of the times.
But I used to try to put the women together, charge for the dorm and accommodate them in a single room or a twin room that wasn't occupied if she was the only woman in the mixed dorm or if asked.
But, you see, I'm a easy going person and was free to do that kind of thing without asking my boss... You may not have the same treatment in other hostels...
If you have any problems, which I find hard to happen, talk to the hostel's desk front and ask to change rooms. If it's a good hostel and the staff is friendly, I believe they'll do it for you.
I just got back from 30 days in Italy and Greece and stayed in both female-only and mixed dorms. Really didn't matter either way and I'm 44. Didn't experience snoring and frankly it was girls waking me up more than guys, including the girl that apparently went on a pub crawl and came back to the room crying and puking. Me and the three guys were all safe and quiet in bed when these two girls came home and woke everyone up. Go figure...
I was at a laundromat in Athens when a middle-aged Australian guy was fascinated that I stayed in mixed dorms. In his dirty mind, guys would be crawling in bed with me any chance they got. Alas, all the guys were very respectful and never tried anything with any girls in the room, lol.
[ Edit: Edited on Aug 5, 2008, at 6:24 PM by laurim ]
Good to have some recent first hand experience; thanks laurim!
It's been my experience too though. Sure you might get woken up on occasion, but it's pretty even whether it's guys or girls doing the waking up. Most are really careful to be as quiet as possible though, as it could just as easily be them the next night
Thanks to all who have taken up this query, especially Outcast. She is right about the party hostels. I have begun to avoid city hostels if possible , even HI hostels where rules are enforced up to a point, because of noise and late night returns. When in my forties I travelled the Camino de Santiago with a mixed group of all ages and we shared floors together all the way quite happily. An older man joined us and was seen leering - I think you would describe it - and also trying to see into the showers, when there were any. He was asked to leave the party. I took this in my stride. I was in my prime, I thoiught.
Now that I am still keen to travel, but definitely aged and also as poor as I was when a student, I kind of resent the ageist attitudes seen in some places and the fact that age brings some embarrassments such as getting up in the night and arthritic knees not geared to upper bunks. If your Grandmother wants to have adventures still, will you tell her she is too old? And would you really want to share a dorm with her if you are male? And spare a thought for older men who may not know where to look.
I love to meet new people but not when undressing for bed. The kitchen is the best place, though females will chat anywhere among themselves. I can usually connect with younger men and boys with no trouble, having sons and grandsons.
So maybe I can be more explicit here. My objections are based on the normal diferences between youth and age and a matter of physical dignity. My generation, and certainly the one following me still has a passion for seeing the world. The term "Youth" Hostel should maybe be changed. Thie name originated when anyone over fifty was expected to either afford a hotel or stay at home knitting.
Happy travelling to all mature people.
I appreciate & applaud your thinking on travel. One day I too will attain your age and then what ? Should I stop traveling, seeing new places or just be confined to my house depending on children & grandchildren ?
Come to India, I'll take you around. You won't need any more company.
Well, I am only 29. But I am a muslim, so if possible I try to stay in female only dorms.
Yet I'll stay in mixed dorms without a second thought if this is the only option in town. I don't think mixed dorms are that bad, in terms of noise they are no better or worse than female-only dorms. There are plenty of women who snore and there are plenty of women who come back completely drunk at 2 am and make a racket.
I am thus not appalled by mixed dorms, yet I have no desire to see the hairy calves of men in their 50's who don't think twice about stripping down to their briefs in front of me. I also prefer to sleep in short nightwear in summer, which I can only do in female only dorms.
What I do is call the hostels in advance and then check whether they have female only dorms available. I usually pay a bit more for female only dorm, but that is ok.
Another way of dealing with mixed dorms in hostels that I have is taking a tent and camping gear. I don't know whether this is an option for you, but having a tent makes travelling much cheaper, especially in the USA. And when you got a car and can put the camping gear in the back the additional weight of the tent and the distances to the camping sites are of no consequence.