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How Do I Turn My House Into A Hostel


by Brit Gwinn



Turning your house into a hostel can be a rewarding and profitable venture. Whether you’re looking to utilize your unused space, have a passion for hospitality, or simply want to meet new people from around the world, transforming your house into a hostel can provide a unique and enriching experience.


However, before embarking on this venture, it’s important to understand the process and requirements involved. From assessing the space and acquiring necessary permits to creating suitable accommodations and managing bookings, there are several steps to consider to ensure a successful transition.


In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the essential steps to turn your house into a hostel. We will provide valuable tips and insights to help you navigate through each stage of the process, from the initial planning to the ongoing management of your hostel. By following this guide, you will be well-equipped with the knowledge and resources necessary to create a thriving and memorable hostel experience.


So, if you’re ready to embark on this exciting journey, let’s dive into the first step: assessing the space and understanding the regulations.


Step 1: Assessing the space and regulations

Before transforming your house into a hostel, it’s crucial to assess the available space and understand the regulations and requirements involved. Here are the key aspects to consider:

  1. Evaluating the space: Begin by evaluating the layout and size of your house. Determine the number of rooms, bathrooms, and communal areas available for guests. Consider whether you have sufficient space to accommodate multiple guests comfortably.
  2. Legal and zoning regulations: Research the local regulations and zoning requirements in your area. Check if hosting guests in a residential property is permitted and if any specific licenses or permits are needed. Contact your local planning department or consult with a professional to ensure compliance with all necessary regulations.
  3. Fire safety requirements: As a hostel owner, ensuring the safety of your guests is paramount. Familiarize yourself with the fire safety codes and regulations specific to hostels. Install smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and emergency exit signs as per the requirements. Conduct regular checks to ensure the safety equipment is functional.
  4. Accessibility: Assess the accessibility of your house for guests with disabilities. Consider whether modifications need to be made to accommodate individuals with mobility challenges. This may include installing ramps or handrails and making bathrooms wheelchair accessible.
  5. Amenities: Evaluate the amenities you can provide to enhance the guest experience. This could include Wi-Fi, a communal kitchen, a common lounge area, laundry facilities, or outdoor spaces for socializing.
  6. Neighborhood considerations: Take into account the characteristics of your neighborhood. Consider factors such as noise levels, proximity to public transportation, attractions, and safety. Ensure that your location is desirable and convenient for guests.

By thoroughly assessing the space and understanding the regulations, you will have a clearer picture of the feasibility of turning your house into a hostel. This step sets the foundation for the subsequent stages, ensuring that you are well-prepared and compliant with all legal requirements.


Once you have evaluated the space and regulations, you can proceed to the next step: obtaining permits and licenses.


Step 2: Obtaining permits and licenses

In order to legally operate a hostel in your house, you will need to obtain the necessary permits and licenses. Here are the key steps to follow:

  1. Research local regulations: Familiarize yourself with the local laws and regulations governing the operation of hostels. Different regions may have different requirements, so it’s important to thoroughly research and understand the specific regulations in your area.
  2. Contact the relevant authorities: Reach out to the local zoning office, planning department, or municipal authorities to inquire about the specific permits and licenses required for operating a hostel. They will guide you through the application process and provide you with the necessary forms and information.
  3. Apply for a business license: Typically, you will need to apply for a business license or permit to legally operate your hostel. This will involve completing an application, providing necessary documentation, and paying any applicable fees. The authorities may also conduct inspections to ensure that your property meets the required safety and hygiene standards.
  4. Fire safety inspection: In addition to the business license, you may need to undergo a fire safety inspection. This is to ensure that your hostel has adequate fire prevention measures in place, such as fire alarms, extinguishers, and emergency exits.
  5. Health and safety compliance: Depending on your location, health and safety regulations may apply to hostels. This could involve maintaining cleanliness and hygiene standards, implementing proper waste disposal practices, and adhering to food safety guidelines if you plan to provide meals to guests.
  6. Tax considerations: Consult with a tax professional to understand the tax obligations associated with operating a hostel. This may include registering for tax purposes, collecting and remitting occupancy taxes, and filing tax returns.
  7. Insurance coverage: It’s essential to obtain adequate insurance coverage for your hostel to protect yourself and your guests. Contact insurance providers specializing in hospitality businesses to discuss the specific requirements and policies available for hostels.

By diligently following the necessary steps to obtain permits and licenses, you can ensure that your hostel operates legally and is compliant with all regulations. This will help establish a solid foundation for your business and provide peace of mind for both you and your guests.


Once you have obtained the required permits and licenses, you can move on to the next step: creating suitable accommodations for your hostel.


Step 3: Creating suitable accommodations

Creating comfortable and inviting accommodations is a crucial step in turning your house into a successful hostel. Consider the following factors when designing your hostel’s accommodation:

  1. Room configuration: Determine the number and types of rooms you will offer. Consider whether you want to have dormitory-style rooms with bunk beds or private rooms with individual beds. A mix of both can cater to different types of guests.
  2. Furniture and amenities: Furnish the rooms with comfortable beds, storage lockers, bedside tables, and reading lights. Provide essential amenities such as bed linens, towels, and toiletries. Consider adding extras like power outlets near the beds, curtains for privacy, and personal reading lamps.
  3. Room décor: Choose a cohesive and appealing design theme for your rooms to create a welcoming atmosphere. Consider incorporating local artwork, vibrant colors, or soothing tones to enhance the overall ambiance.
  4. Common areas: In addition to individual rooms, create communal spaces where guests can socialize and relax. Design comfortable lounges, dining areas, and outdoor spaces where guests can gather, share stories, and forge friendships.
  5. Kitchen facilities: If you plan to offer a communal kitchen, ensure it is well-equipped with necessary appliances, utensils, and cookware. Consider providing a dining area where guests can enjoy their meals together.
  6. Bathrooms: Adequate bathroom facilities are essential for a comfortable stay. Ensure there are enough bathrooms and showers to accommodate all guests. Keep them clean, well-maintained, and stocked with toiletries.
  7. Accessibility considerations: If you want to cater to guests with disabilities, ensure that your hostel has accessible accommodations, including wheelchair-accessible rooms and bathrooms.
  8. Privacy considerations: Strike a balance between communal spaces and private areas. Provide options for guests seeking privacy, such as private rooms or curtains around beds in dormitory-style rooms.
  9. Cleanliness and maintenance: Regularly clean and maintain the accommodations to ensure a pleasant and hygienic environment for your guests. Implement a cleaning schedule and consider hiring cleaning staff if necessary.

By creating comfortable and well-designed accommodations, you can provide a positive experience for your guests and differentiate your hostel from others. Your efforts in this step will contribute to the overall satisfaction and enjoyment of your guests during their stay.


Once you have created suitable accommodations, you can move on to the next step: setting up communal spaces in your hostel.


Step 4: Setting up communal spaces

Communal spaces are the heart of a hostel, providing opportunities for guests to interact, socialize, and create memorable experiences. When setting up communal spaces, consider the following:

  1. Lounge area: Design a comfortable and inviting lounge area where guests can relax, read, or socialize. Include cozy seating, shelves with books or board games, and a television or entertainment system.
  2. Dining area: If you offer meals or have a communal kitchen, create a dedicated area for dining. Provide ample seating and consider hosting communal meals or cooking events to encourage socialization.
  3. Outdoor spaces: Utilize your outdoor areas, such as a garden or patio, to create gathering spaces. Set up tables, chairs, and maybe even a barbecue grill for guests to enjoy outdoor activities or simply to unwind.
  4. Workspaces: Consider incorporating a designated workspace with desks, chairs, and power outlets for guests who need to work remotely. Provide a quiet and well-lit area where guests can concentrate and be productive.
  5. Recreational facilities: If space permits, include recreational facilities such as a pool table, foosball table, or ping pong table. These can create opportunities for guests to engage in friendly competition and unwind.
  6. Art and decoration: Use art, decorations, and color schemes that reflect the character of your hostel. Consider showcasing local artwork or incorporating unique design elements that resonate with the culture and atmosphere of your location.
  7. Social events: Organize social events and activities to bring guests together. This could include movie nights, city tours, cooking classes, or game nights. Encourage guests to participate and make connections with fellow travelers.
  8. Music and entertainment: Create a vibrant and lively atmosphere by playing music in communal areas. Consider hosting live music events or inviting local performers to entertain guests.
  9. Comfort and cleanliness: Ensure that communal spaces are clean, well-maintained, and comfortable for guests to enjoy. Regularly clean, organize, and restock common areas to enhance the overall experience.

By setting up inviting and engaging communal spaces, you encourage social interaction and foster a sense of community among your guests. These spaces will become the hub of shared experiences and memorable moments, making your hostel stand out and creating a welcoming ambiance.


Once you have established your communal spaces, you can proceed to the next step: ensuring safety and security measures in your hostel.


Step 5: Ensuring safety and security measures

Ensuring the safety and security of your guests is paramount when running a hostel. By implementing robust safety and security measures, you can provide a comfortable and worry-free environment. Consider the following steps:

  1. Security systems: Install security systems such as CCTV cameras and access control systems to monitor and control entry to the hostel. This will help deter potential intruders and provide peace of mind for both you and your guests.
  2. Emergency exits and signage: Clearly mark emergency exits and provide appropriate signage throughout the hostel. Ensure that these exits are easily accessible and well-lit, with clear pathways to ensure a swift and safe evacuation in the event of an emergency.
  3. Safety equipment: Ensure that your hostel is equipped with basic safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and first aid kits in easily accessible areas. Regularly inspect and maintain this equipment to ensure it is in proper working condition.
  4. Staff training: Train your staff on emergency procedures, including how to handle fire incidents, medical emergencies, and evacuations. Make sure they are familiar with the layout of the hostel and know how to effectively respond to different scenarios.
  5. Guest information: Provide guests with information regarding emergency procedures, including the location of emergency exits, fire escape routes, and designated meeting areas. Include this information in guest welcome packets or prominently display it in common areas.
  6. Secure storage: Offer secure storage options such as lockers or safes where guests can store their valuable belongings. This will give them peace of mind and help prevent theft or loss of personal items.
  7. Regular maintenance: Conduct regular maintenance checks to identify and address any potential safety hazards. This includes checking electrical systems, ensuring proper lighting, and inspecting the structure for any signs of damage or wear.
  8. Guest screening: Implement a guest screening process to help ensure the safety and security of all guests. This may include verifying identification, checking references, or requiring guests to provide a deposit or credit card information.
  9. 24/7 staff presence: Consider having staff on-site 24/7 to monitor the premises and address any security concerns or guest needs that may arise during the day or night.
  10. Neighborhood awareness: Stay informed about the safety of the surrounding neighborhood and share this information with your guests. Provide guidance on areas to avoid and safe transportation options to enhance their overall experience.

By prioritizing safety and security measures, you can create a safe and secure environment for your guests. This not only helps to protect their well-being but also contributes to building a trustworthy reputation for your hostel.


Once you have implemented the necessary safety and security measures, you can move forward to the next step: developing marketing and branding strategies for your hostel.


Step 6: Developing marketing and branding strategies

Marketing and branding are essential for attracting guests and establishing a strong presence in the competitive hospitality industry. Here are some key steps to consider when developing your marketing and branding strategies:

  1. Define your target audience: Identify your ideal guest demographic, such as solo travelers, backpackers, or digital nomads. Understanding your target audience will help you tailor your marketing efforts to effectively reach and connect with them.
  2. Create a compelling brand identity: Develop a unique and memorable brand identity for your hostel. This includes creating a visually appealing logo, selecting a distinctive color scheme, and defining your brand’s tone and voice.
  3. Build a responsive website: Design a user-friendly website that showcases the features, amenities, and unique offerings of your hostel. Include high-quality photos of the accommodations and communal spaces, as well as informative content that highlights your hostel’s value proposition.
  4. Utilize search engine optimization (SEO): Optimize your website content with relevant keywords and meta tags to improve its visibility in search engine results. This will help drive organic traffic to your site and increase your chances of reaching potential guests.
  5. Social media presence: Leverage social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to engage with your target audience. Share attractive visuals, promote upcoming events or discounts, and actively respond to guest inquiries or feedback.
  6. Online travel agencies (OTAs): Partner with popular OTAs like Booking.com, Expedia, or Airbnb to increase your hostel’s exposure and attract bookings from a broad range of travelers. Be sure to optimize your listings with appealing descriptions, competitive pricing, and positive guest reviews.
  7. Collaborate with influencers: Partner with travel influencers or bloggers to showcase your hostel and gain exposure to their followers. Offer complimentary stays or discounts in exchange for authentic reviews and promotional content.
  8. Guest reviews and testimonials: Encourage satisfied guests to leave positive reviews and testimonials on social media platforms, review sites, and your website. These reviews act as powerful social proof and can greatly influence the decision-making process of potential guests.
  9. Hostel associations and local partnerships: Join hostel associations or collaborate with local businesses and tourism organizations to strengthen your network and promote your hostel within the local community. Participate in events, share cross-promotional offers, and engage in reciprocal marketing efforts.
  10. Content marketing: Create valuable and informative content such as blog posts, travel guides, or videos that appeal to your target audience. This establishes your hostel as a trusted resource and helps attract organic traffic to your website.
  11. Offer promotions and loyalty programs: Develop attractive promotions, discounts, or loyalty programs to incentivize repeat visits and referrals. Encourage guests to refer their friends and offer exclusive perks or discounts for returning guests.

By implementing effective marketing and branding strategies, you can increase your hostel’s visibility, attract the right guests, and foster a positive reputation in the industry. These efforts will help you stand out from the competition and establish a strong presence in the market.


Once you have developed your marketing and branding strategies, you can proceed to the next step: managing bookings and providing exceptional customer service.


Step 7: Managing bookings and customer service

Efficiently managing bookings and providing exceptional customer service are crucial elements for running a successful hostel. Here are key steps to consider:

  1. Implement a reliable booking system: Utilize a robust online booking system that allows guests to make reservations easily. Ensure it is user-friendly, offers real-time availability, and allows for seamless payment processing.
  2. Set clear policies and terms: Establish transparent policies regarding check-in/check-out times, cancellation policies, and any other important guidelines. Clearly communicate these policies to guests during the booking process and on your website.
  3. Respond promptly to inquiries: Aim to respond to inquiries and booking requests promptly, preferably within 24 hours. Promptly addressing guest questions and concerns helps build trust and increases the chances of securing bookings.
  4. Provide accurate and detailed information: Ensure that your website, booking platforms, and guest communications contain accurate and up-to-date information about your hostel, including amenities, services, and any restrictions or conditions.
  5. Personalize the guest experience: Make an effort to personalize each guest’s experience to exceed their expectations. Greet guests by name, offer recommendations based on their interests, and provide a warm and friendly atmosphere throughout their stay.
  6. Train and empower your staff: Provide comprehensive training to your staff on customer service, including communication skills, problem-solving, and conflict resolution. Empower them to handle different guest situations effectively.
  7. Pay attention to cleanliness and maintenance: Maintain a high standard of cleanliness throughout your hostel. Regularly clean and inspect common areas, bathrooms, and guest rooms to ensure a comfortable and hygienic environment for your guests.
  8. Handle guest feedback: Actively seek and encourage feedback from guests to understand their experience. Address any concerns or issues promptly and make improvements based on constructive feedback. Positive reviews and guest satisfaction are essential for repeat bookings and word-of-mouth recommendations.
  9. Create a welcoming atmosphere: Foster a welcoming and inclusive environment by organizing social events, creating opportunities for guests to interact, and promoting a sense of community within your hostel. Encourage guests to connect and share experiences.
  10. Provide additional services: Consider offering additional services that enhance the guest experience, such as airport transfers, guided tours, or social activities. These add-ons can increase guest satisfaction and generate additional revenue.
  11. Monitor and manage your online reputation: Regularly monitor and respond to online reviews and feedback about your hostel. Engage with guests, both positive and negative, to show that you value their opinions and are committed to providing excellent customer service.

By efficiently managing bookings and delivering exceptional customer service, you can create a positive and memorable experience for your guests. Remember that happy and satisfied guests are more likely to return in the future and recommend your hostel to others.


Once you have mastered the art of managing bookings and customer service, you can focus on Step 8: handling finances and legal responsibilities.


Step 8: Handling finances and legal responsibilities

Managing finances and fulfilling legal responsibilities are vital aspects of running a hostel. Here are key steps to effectively handle these areas of your business:

  1. Accounting and bookkeeping: Maintain accurate financial records by implementing a proper accounting system. Record all income and expenses related to your hostel operations and keep track of financial transactions.
  2. Budgeting and financial planning: Develop a realistic budget and financial plan for your hostel. Consider factors such as operating costs, marketing expenses, staff wages, and maintenance requirements. Regularly review and adjust your budget as necessary.
  3. Tax obligations: Understand and comply with all tax obligations related to your hostel, including income tax, occupancy tax, and any other local taxes applicable to your area. Consult with a tax professional to ensure you fulfill your tax requirements accurately.
  4. Legal documentation: Keep all necessary legal documents up to date, including business permits, licenses, and insurance policies. Review your legal obligations regularly to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations.
  5. Staff payroll and contracts: Pay your staff accurately and on time, and ensure you have appropriate employment contracts in place. Familiarize yourself with employment laws in your area to ensure your staff rights and obligations are well-defined.
  6. Supplier management: Develop good relationships with suppliers and negotiate favorable terms for your hostel. Regularly review your supplier contracts and invoices to ensure fair pricing and good service.
  7. Financial analysis: Conduct regular financial analysis to assess the financial health of your hostel. Analyze your revenue, expenses, and occupancy rates to identify areas of improvement and make informed business decisions.
  8. Risk management: Identify and manage potential risks that may impact your hostel. This includes maintaining appropriate insurance coverage, implementing safety measures, and addressing any liability concerns.
  9. Expense control: Regularly review your expenses and identify areas where you can optimize costs without compromising the quality of your hostel. Explore opportunities to streamline operations and negotiate better deals with suppliers.
  10. Recordkeeping and documentation: Keep organized records of all financial and legal documents related to your hostel. Maintain receipts, invoices, contracts, and any other relevant paperwork to ensure compliance and facilitate future audits or inspections.

By effectively managing finances and fulfilling legal responsibilities, you can ensure the financial stability and legal compliance of your hostel. This allows you to focus on providing an exceptional guest experience and growing your business.


Once you have established a strong financial and legal foundation, you can move on to Step 9: hosting events and activities to enhance your guests’ experience.


Step 9: Hosting events and activities

Hosting events and activities can greatly enhance the guest experience at your hostel by providing opportunities for social interaction, cultural exchange, and memorable experiences. Here are key steps to successfully host events and activities:

  1. Understanding your guests: Consider the interests and preferences of your target audience when planning events and activities. Tailor your offerings to cater to their needs and create a memorable experience.
  2. Research local events and attractions: Stay informed about local events, festivals, and attractions in your area. Collaborate with local businesses or organizations to provide unique experiences for your guests.
  3. Organize themed nights or parties: Host themed nights or parties that showcase the culture, cuisine, or traditions of your location. This can include costume parties, game nights, live music events, or cultural celebrations.
  4. Arrange city tours: Partner with local tour operators or create your own city tour to showcase popular landmarks, hidden gems, and unique experiences in your area. This allows guests to explore and learn more about the destination.
  5. Offer workshops or classes: Provide workshops or classes that align with the interests of your guests. This can include cooking classes, language lessons, yoga sessions, or art workshops. Collaborate with local experts or professionals to deliver these experiences.
  6. Facilitate group activities: Organize group activities such as hiking trips, beach outings, or sports competitions. This fosters a sense of community among guests and provides opportunities for them to connect and make new friends.
  7. Create social spaces: Design social spaces within your hostel where guests can interact and engage with each other. Provide board games, cards, or communal spaces for guests to relax, play, and share experiences.
  8. Promote local experiences: Encourage guests to explore the local area by providing recommendations for nearby attractions, restaurants, and cultural experiences. Offer tips on hidden gems or off-the-beaten-path destinations.
  9. Host networking events: Arrange networking events where guests can connect with professionals, entrepreneurs, or digital nomads who share similar interests. This enables guests to build valuable connections and expand their network.
  10. Solicit guest feedback: Regularly seek feedback from your guests regarding their interests, preferences, and suggestions for future events and activities. This helps you understand their needs and continuously improve your offerings.

By hosting events and activities, you create a vibrant and engaging atmosphere that sets your hostel apart. This encourages guests to have a memorable and enjoyable stay, fostering positive reviews, and encouraging repeat bookings.


Once you have established a repertoire of exciting events and activities, you can move on to the final step: continuously improving and evolving your hostel.


Step 10: Continuously improving and evolving your hostel

Continuously improving and evolving your hostel is essential for staying competitive and meeting the ever-changing needs of your guests. Here are key steps to ensure ongoing growth and success:

  1. Solicit guest feedback: Regularly seek feedback from your guests through surveys, comment cards, or online reviews. Pay attention to their suggestions and use them as valuable insights for improving various aspects of your hostel.
  2. Address any issues or concerns: Take immediate action to address any issues or concerns raised by guests. Demonstrate your commitment to guest satisfaction by resolving problems and ensuring a positive experience for all.
  3. Stay updated with industry trends: Keep yourself informed about the latest trends and innovations in the hospitality industry. Attend conferences, join professional associations, and network with other hostel owners to stay ahead of the curve.
  4. Regular maintenance and upgrades: Conduct regular inspections and maintenance to address any wear and tear in your hostel. Continuously invest in upgrades to enhance guest comfort and keep your facilities up-to-date.
  5. Monitor competition: Keep an eye on your competition to stay aware of their offerings and pricing strategies. Regularly assess their strengths and weaknesses, and adjust your own strategies accordingly.
  6. Embrace sustainability: Implement sustainable practices in your hostel, such as energy-efficient lighting, recycling initiatives, and eco-friendly products. Show your commitment to environmental responsibility, which is increasingly valued by travelers.
  7. Invest in staff development: Continuously train and develop your staff to ensure they are equipped with the necessary skills to deliver exceptional service. Foster a positive work environment that encourages professional growth and leads to motivated and engaged employees.
  8. Engage with the local community: Build strong relationships with local businesses, organizations, and residents. Collaborate on initiatives, support local causes, and participate in community events to become an integral part of the local fabric.
  9. Monitor online reputation: Regularly monitor and respond to online reviews and feedback about your hostel. Engage with guests, both positive and negative, to show your commitment to their satisfaction and address any concerns proactively.
  10. Seek opportunities for innovation: Continuously seek opportunities to innovate and differentiate your hostel from others. Stay attuned to guest preferences and evolving trends, and adapt your offerings to meet their changing needs.

By embracing a culture of continuous improvement and evolution, you can position your hostel for long-term success. Staying responsive to guest feedback, monitoring industry trends, and consistently upgrading your facilities and services will contribute to delivering an exceptional guest experience.


Congratulations! You have now completed the ten essential steps to turning your house into a successful hostel. By applying these strategies, you are well on your way to creating a memorable and enjoyable experience for your guests while running a thriving hospitality business.



Transforming your house into a hostel is an exciting and rewarding venture that offers the opportunity to meet new people, create lasting memories, and generate income. By following the ten essential steps outlined in this guide, you can successfully navigate the process and establish a thriving hostel.


From assessing the space and understanding the regulations to creating suitable accommodations, setting up communal spaces, and ensuring safety and security measures, each step plays a vital role in creating a positive guest experience. Additionally, developing effective marketing and branding strategies, managing bookings, providing exceptional customer service, handling finances and legal responsibilities, hosting events and activities, and continuously improving and evolving your hostel are all crucial aspects to consider.


By approaching each step with careful planning, attention to detail, and a commitment to guest satisfaction, you can create a unique and memorable environment that sets your hostel apart from the competition. Remember to continuously seek feedback, address concerns, stay updated with industry trends, and foster strong relationships within the community.


Successful hostels create a sense of community, offering not only a comfortable place to rest but also opportunities for guests to connect, explore, and learn. By cultivating a welcoming atmosphere and providing exceptional service, your hostel can become a sought-after destination for travelers seeking authentic experiences.


As you embark on this journey, embrace the dynamic nature of the hospitality industry, be open to innovation, and adapt your offerings to meet the evolving needs of your guests. With dedication, persistence, and a passion for hospitality, your hostel can become a haven for travelers from around the world.


Now, armed with this comprehensive guide, it’s time to turn your house into a hostel and embark on an exciting adventure of hospitality, cultural exchange, and creating unforgettable moments for your guests.