58 Worst Investments Owners Made When They Started A Hostel


Start A Hostel - Investment

A total of 77 hostel managers took part in my survey answering the question: “What was the worst investment you ever made for your hostel and why?”

In this article, I’ve categorized the 58 most helpful answers for you. The sole goal of this blog is to help you avoid costly mistakes when starting and running YOUR hostel.

Alrighty, let’s dive in!

The Worst Investment I Ever Made
When Starting My Hostel

#1 Hostel Equipment

#1

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying a gas lawn mower because it wakes up literally everyone. Hence, you can’t start cutting the lawn before noon. An electric one is the much better choice.”

#2

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying several expensive smart TVs. More basic and smaller ones would’ve done the trick and guests hardly use them anyway.”

#3

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying fancy cutlery. 2 months later, half of it was already missing.”

#4

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying glass bowls for the kitchen. They were broken before we used them the first time.”

#5

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying a coffee machine. Turned out that our guests aren’t that sophisticated when it comes to their coffee.”

#6

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying expensive and professional cookware. Guests don’t make a difference between expensive and some mid/low level cookware. They use them in the same (horrible) way.”

Start Hostel Investments Equipment

#7

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying a pizza oven. No one ever used it.”

#8

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying an ice cream fridge. Nobody ever bought ice cream.”

#9

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying expensive, high quality kitchenware, tables and chairs. They are already broken.”

#10

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying a TV. No one watches TV in our hostel.”

#11

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying expensive furniture. Guests will break everything. E V E R Y T H I N G.”

#12

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying an oven for our kitchen. A stove alone would have done the job.”

#2 Hostel Building

#13

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…choosing an amateur contractor. We now have to renovate the entire building because he messed up.”

#14

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…laying parquet on the stars. They already looked battered after 6 months and maintenance is time-intensive.”

#15

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…putting too much work into making our outer walls smooth. A rough look would’ve looked even better.”

Start A Hostel - Property Investment

#16

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…hiring a cheap construction laborer. I ended up paying more money to fix his work and on top of it, it cost a lot of time.”

#17

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…choosing wooden parquet floors. They get wet easily and we’ll have to exchange within short periods of time.”

#18

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…not installing AC right from the start. It would’ve been way cheaper than installing it afterwards.”

#19

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying a pressure tank. As soon as we used it, all water connections exploded because it was an old house with old pipes. We had to redo all the bathrooms and now everything is okay again.”

#3 Hostel Design

#20

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…hiring a bad interior design team when starting the hostel. It took much longer and was more expensive to get the license for our hostel due to that.”

#21

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…paying someone to paint a mural. We had better ones designed by volunteers.”

Start A Hostel - Hostel Design

#22

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying trendy or seasonal decorations. It takes a lot of space to store it. Timeless decoration is much better.”

#4 Hostel Facilities

#23

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying a plastic pool that was too big and not sustainable.”

#24

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying cheap toilets seats. They all broke and caused lots of complaints.”

#25

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…creating a snack corner with a coffee machine. Our guests actually prefer to buy things outside even though our prices are the same as those in nearby convenience stores.”

Start A Hostel Facilities

#26

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying a swimming pool. It just needs too much water and doesn’t justify a price rise to compensate for the costs.”

#27

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying a pool table. It takes too much space and isn’t used that much.”

#28

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…creating a meeting room for business travelers. We hardly receive requests for it.”

#29

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…building bathrooms with showers and sinks together. It would’ve been better to separate it so that both can be used at the same time.”

#5 Hostel Bedrooms

#30

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying cheap bed linen. We had to get rid of them after one year.”

#31

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying mattresses that were too hard. Guests don’t seem to like hard mattresses as much as I do.”

#32

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying expensive high-quality mattresses. Too much sitting on the edges will ruin even the best mattresses not to mention bed bugs. If I could start again, I would go with cheaper ones.”

#33

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying cheap metal bunk beds. They squeak and don’t last.”

Start A Hostel Bedrooms

#34

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying too many sheets, pillows, and duvets. Most of them are still unused in the closet.”

#35

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying bamboo beds. After a few weeks, we had one guest who brought in bed bugs and the bugs decided to permanently move into the cozy bamboo. We had to throw them all out.”

#36

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…using wood in the rooms where bed bugs love to stay. If I could start again, we’d keep it simple and use bricks and metal wherever we can.”

#6 Additional Hostel Services

#37

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…building a bar area. It looks cool but we aren’t busy enough to actually run it.”

#38

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…setting up a  cafe on the rooftop without having any experience in it.”

Start A Hostel Services

#39

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…offering various beers. Turned out guests really don’t care about the stuff they’re drinking as long as they get drunk 😅”

#7 Hostel Marketing

#40

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…spending money on people who claim to have experience in hostel marketing but actually don’t.” 

#41

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…participating in a local event to advertise my hostel. The costs to join were high and no one ever applied.”

#42

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…advertising in the wrong places. I learned in the school of hard knocks that there are only a few places that are really worth the effort.”

#43

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…paying for Google 360 view. Guests actually only look at normal pictures.”

#44

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…paying too much for a web design startup to create our hostel website. It took 3 years until we had our website fully functioning.”

#8 Miscellaneous

#45

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…paying money to join an association. It’s completely useless and a waste of time.”

#46

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying a mini dump truck during the construction of our hostel. We didn’t really use it ever since.”

#47

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying local maps for our guests but no one uses ‘old school’ maps anymore.”

#48

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…hiring the wrong people. Your staff either makes or breaks you. So, choose wisely.”

#49

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…offering free breakfast. We had many guests complaining about it being too simple instead of appreciating that it’s a free offer. Our bed rates are more or less the same as our competitors who don’t offer a free breakfast.”

#50

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…paying hundreds of dollars for bed bug exterminators. They do not solve the problem. We learned the hard way that prevention is key.”

How To Start A Hostel

#51

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…taking a long-term guest who ended up stealing and flying out at night. I had to have her arrested and had to testify in court.”

#52

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…using a desktop property management software. As our computer died, so did all our reservations and guest information. We now use a cloud-based system.”

#53

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…taking on a volunteer helper to look after the hostel while we went on vacation. The girl concerned passed the front door key to a thief who came in one night and took a total of 1600 USD from several guests.

He did a return visit asking some returning revelers at 5 am: ‘Can you let me in as I forgot to bring my key!’ – And yes, they let him in!”

#53

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…installing a traditional key entry system for the front door. Now we use a keypad which is way cheaper than replacing so many keys since a key deposit was logistically impossible.” 

#54

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…paying too much money for a property management system that didn’t have all the features we needed for our hostel.”

#55

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…having too much staff in the off-season when the revenue is tight.”

#56

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying a property in the wrong location.”

#9 Controversies

#57

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying cheap equipment. It’s much more expensive in the long run.”

#58

The worst investment I ever made for my hostel was…

“…buying expensive equipment. Eventually, guests will break everything.”

Start A Hostel Tips

Bottom Line

If I had to summarize all the advice in a few sentences, it’d look like this: 

  • Don’t buy fancy and expensive kitchen equipment. Standard stuff will do the job.
  • When using third parties (e.g. contractor), don’t just look at the price but also for their portfolio and recommendations.
  • Choose the location of your hostel wisely before buying a property.
  • Try to avoid parquet floors.
  • Think twice before investing in a pool and do the math when it comes to their utility costs.
  • Invest in a cloud-based property management system rather than a desktop-based one.
  • Avoid wooden bunk beds and wooden furniture in rooms where bed bugs could hide. Prevention is key. Stick to commercial, non-squeaky metal beds instead.
  • Don’t spend too much money on high-quality mattresses. Cheaper ones will do the job.
  • Only offer additional services (e.g. bar, cafe, etc.) when you know for sure what your guests need and what the math looks like.
  • Don’t use a traditional key entry system for the front door and install a keypad instead.
  • Neither buy the cheapest nor the most expensive equipment. The golden mean seems to be somewhere in between.
How To Start A Hostel Tips

Dedication:

I want to thank all participants for taking part in my survey, sharing their wisdom and being so helpful. Thank you for inspiring me. You’re the reason why this website exists.

STOP! 🤚

Before you leave: Answer this quick question and help our community.

What was the worst investment YOU ever made for your hostel and why?

Share your opinion in the comment section below!

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Kevin

Kevin is the founder of TheHostelHelper and a former German engineer in his late twenties. In the middle of his grad school studies, he started a consulting business and broke several branch records within the first six months… until he finally quit this venture to pursue his passion for hostels. Kevin is known for his super black humor – yet, super black might still be an understatement. He also LOVES dogs and drinks too much coffee. When he’s not obsessing about hostel topics you’re likely to find him at the gym – where the heavy weights are.

16 thoughts on “58 Worst Investments Owners Made When They Started A Hostel

  1. Holy crap! #19 sounds like a nightmare…
    I made pretty much the same experience with additional services: we tried to offer food that we got delivered by another company… but it was just too labor-intensive.

  2. Rack cards, brochures, flyers, posters,… and all other offline marketing “must-haves”.
    They only cost time & money and no one EVER made a decision based on them!

  3. I’d say the best investment you can make is NOT to buy the cheapest stuff. You’ll have to replace it over and over and over again.
    Good quality that sustains hostel use comes at a price.

    1. I agree. Oftentimes, it’s more cost-effective to make a higher initial investment in order to save in the long run.
      – Kevin

  4. My worst investment: Designer kitchen chairs… they look awesome but are super uncomfortable and we receive a lot of complaints about them.

  5. The worst investment were cheap ceiling fans… they last for about 8 months and then one after the other got broken^^

  6. The worst investment I did was to renovate too small bathrooms only to enlargen the bathroom 2 years later.

  7. My worst investment was to install glass doors to the common rooms. I thought they’d look nice… and they did… but 2 out of 3 broke within a few months because guests didn’t notice the doors.

    1. That reminds me of the glass door I walked into 2 months ago in a hostel in Queenstown, NZ.
      There was literally a print of my face on the door afterward… and my nose hurt for about 3 days 😅
      – Kevin

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