Hostel managers all have different methods for running their property, and different priorities. All hostel managers, however, must answer certain questions. One question concerns dinner: should you serve it? Should you charge for it? HostelProfessional has put together a list of advantages, disadvantages, tips and examples for managing your hostel dinners.
- Atmosphere is a major attraction for hostel guests. The common need for food is one of the best ways to bring people together. A community atmosphere is created for your guests when everyone gathers in the same place at the same time. Bellies are filled and friends are made, and satisfied guests will leave better reviews, ultimately increasing your revenue.
- If you don’t serve dinner you need to consider whether you’re going to provide a guest kitchen. A staff-only kitchen for the purpose of guest dinners will minimize mess, cleanup, waste, required space, and the amount of utensils that need to be provided. This saves you time and money while still ensuring guests are fed.
- Meals such as spaghetti bolognese, fried rice, and stews are very easy to make in large quantities, and cheap! Offering dinners for free can increase bookings without losing any money on food costs. Alternatively, charging a small amount for meals can turn a nice profit on them. Remember though, charging too high will likely lead guests to just head out for dinner instead.
- It is difficult to get food quantities right for large groups of people. Under-cater and guests will be unsatisfied, over-cater and you create a lot of waste. A sign-up sheet and cut off time for people to register for dinner is one solution here. This way your staff know how many to cook for in advance.
- Cooking in large quantities and simultaneously keeping costs low greatly minimizes the range of dishes you can choose from. Your best bet is to choose a handful of dishes that work best and cook them on rotation. If the meals have no variation guests will be unimpressed when staying for multiple nights.
- The initial setup can require a cost and some time investment. Cooking large quantities requires sizable pots and a big, powerful stove-top. A dining area is also necessary, where the food can be served and guests can sit together to eat.
- If you are considering serving dinner at your hostel make sure you check food safety regulations in your area. You could need certain certificates or permits to be able to serve food legally.
- If you don’t make the effort to serve food that guests will enjoy and provide a welcoming and comfortable environment for them to eat in, don’t bother serving dinner at all. Guests don’t expect hostel dinners everywhere, it’s a bonus. However, if they get their hopes up just to be disappointed, they will certainly leave a bad review.
Great hostel dinners:
Lunar Surf House – For 50 dirham (around 5 euro) guests enjoy dinner in the rooftop lounge overlooking the sea and sunset. The hostel dinners are a massive, delicious spread of tagines, chips, salad, bread and more. They also serve the best free breakfast we’ve ever seen, with egg tagine, fruit salad, and jugs of fresh orange juice.
Hostel Anton, Tivat, Montenegro – The large open dining hall at this hostel is complete with pool table and piano. For 3 euros guests enjoy a different dish each night, always accompanied with bread and salad. They also sell beers, so hostel dinner rolls into drinks which rolls into happy guests and great reviews.
Wild Rover, Cusco, Peru and La Paz, Bolivia – For something a little different, these hostels have fully-functional restaurants. The menu ranges from nachos and quesadillas to spaghetti and chicken parmigiana for dinner and pancakes or eggs for breakfast. The kitchen is only open during specific times, but the counter doubles as a bar with more flexible opening hours. The prices are all affordable and the dining tables are set in long rows with bench seating. It is easy to meet people or just sit with your friends.
Is your hostel missing from this list? Leave us a comment or get in touch via our contact info below and tell us why your hostel’s dinners are the best of the bunch!