Top or bottom bunk?

Honestly, I’m not just out to insult those of you that like sleeping on the top bunk.  For those of you who don’t know what the Inbetweeners is, its a British comedy TV series about 4 male teenagers who sit uncomfortably somewhere in between the cool kids and the less popular members of their school year group.  In trying to fit in with the cool kids, and ultimately attract some female attention (Exhibit A below), their efforts are nothing less than tragic, but watching Neil, Will, Simon and Jay fail in such epic circumstances episode after episode has audiences in fits of laughter.  Yes its childish, crude, rude, silly, cringe and just generally outrageous, but it’s also bloody funny at the same time.  So funny its won numerous awards and has now spawned two feature films.  The second of which see’s the lads go backpacking around Australia … that there might go some way to explaining the opening line to this post right? … or at least I hope so.

Top or Bottom bunk?

So, are you a top bunk w*anker?  Or do you actually prefer it up there?  Is it really worse than the bottom bunk?  I’ve had this post in the making for a few weeks now, and its hardly a ground-breaking topic of travel related conversation, but seeing as it is being drawn to the attention of the cinema attending masses, I’ve finally got my back side in gear and decided to both finish and publish this post.  So here we go …

The idea is pretty simply, within this post I simply want to explore the pro’s and con’s of both the top and bottom bunk options which are afforded to you when staying in a hostel dorm room.  Is one option simply better than the other, and should that option be considered of higher value than the other?  Lets take a look shall we?

Top Bunk

So lets start with the top bunk, what are the positives of being up there?

  • Less likely to have a problem with randoms commandeering your sleeping space.
  • Safer from those who are unable to keep their drink down/inside their bladder.
  • You’re less likely to be disturbed by those on the bottom bunk getting into bed, whereas if you’re on the bottom you’re unlikely to sleep through someone climbing into the top bunk.
  • When your room hosts a dorm party, your bunk is less likely to become a communal space.

Bottom Bunk

Now lets move on to my own personal preference, the bottom bunk – hence the longer list.

  • Easier access to the land of nod after a heavy night out.
  • Easier when needing to visit the bathrooms in the middle of the night.
  • Easier to reach you bag if it is stored under your bunk.
  • If you’re on a very very old bunk with no side rails, you have less of a fall if you do accidentally roll off the edge.
  • Hang a towel from the top bunk and you almost have a curtain, and a bit more privacy.
  • More likely to be in close proximity to a plug socket.
  • Easier to make/set up your bed when you initially enter your dorm for the first time


Bunk Value

So as per the above lists, I’m clearly a bottom bunk kinda guy.  Would I pay extra for a bottom bunk? Yes, yes I would, but it would depend on how much, for how long I was staying in said hostel, and what time I might be checking in.  Essentially I don’t want to be checking-in late and and making up my top bunk whilst everyone else in the room is asleep, or trying to get to sleep.  Much easier to slip into a new room and quickly make up a bottom bunk whilst you roommates sleep right?

Going back to the value part, how much extra would I pay to sleep on a bottom bunk over a top one? Maybe a £1 or so extra per night, tops.  It’s not a whole lot, but I’m not made of money, and whilst there are more pro’s (in my opinion) to sleeping in a bottom bunk, they’re not worth that much more than a £1 a night I think.  As a backpacker I like to think I can roll with the punches in most situations, and can stick to a budget if it means I get to travel both a little longer and further.  If a cheaper bunk affords me that extra travel over a period of time, I’d choose to make the sacrifice (its hardly a massive one anyway) of sleeping in the cheaper, top bunk to prolong my travels.  Especially if its only for the odd night before I’m moving on again.  But, saying all that, i do find a bottom bunk more comfortable and practical, so it is still my preference.

The Evolution of Bunks

I’ll admit that throughout all of the above I’ve been a bit presumptuous, assuming that we’re talking about the same bog standard, metal framed bunks.  The comfy enough but no frills type.  However, if most hostel dorm room set ups were to become a little more like the one below (fyi – Franz Ferdinand hostel, Sarajevo), I’m not so sure there would such an argument for top vs bottom.

I like these newer cubicle bunk types, with a bit of extra privacy on both bunk levels, along with a plug socket for each.  In my opinion those extra features equal out some the differences between top and bottom that I’ve highlighted above.  It goes without saying that there are still a few differences, and the individual in the top cubicle esq bunk will still have a little bit more work to do getting in and out of bed, but I think that the fear of getting out of bed in the middle of the night/mega early will be somewhat lessened by the more private/closed off sleeping area of their bunk mate below.  Honestly, that is one of my biggest fear when sleep on the top bunk, waking the person on the bottom punk and giving them rage.

So, whilst there still some differences between top and bottom, I think it would be great to see the below set up more often within hostels, but maybe I’m just biased as its pretty close to my own Ultimate hostel bunk set up.

Whichever bunk you prefer, and obviously it is entirely your choice, just ready yourself to hear the term ‘Top Bunk W*nker’ uttered rather a lot from now on wherever you choose to sleep in a hostel dorm room.  Seriously, its already being used as a hashtag on twitter.  As a 30 year old male who believes in good manners I shouldn’t laugh … but I’m going to because I’m still slightly childish and its funny.  Don’t judge me too harshly, please.

So to finish and wrap this post up, its over to you – Top or bottom bunk and why?