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Are hostels still a thing?

Old 08-04-20, 01:52 PM
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Are hostels still a thing?

I'm just getting back into touring, last time I did was late 90's. I had a book that had all the hostels in the US. I stayed in several while doing tours and vacations, most were open sleeping bays or small cabins but only costs 10-15 bucks a night. Do hostels still exist or are they a thing of the past? Thanks
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Old 08-04-20, 02:07 PM
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I think there are 49 left in the US - https://www.hiusa.org/
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Old 08-04-20, 02:33 PM
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They never were a (known) thing in the SE so far as I am aware. TBH if you aren't looking to CC camp, Stealth is your best bet for price (here).
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Old 08-04-20, 02:48 PM
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I’ve let a few touring folks eat, shower and sleep at the fire station. We made them a big dinner and let them use our beds..Not sure how well they slept with the alarm going off every hour though.
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Old 08-04-20, 03:53 PM
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Hostels were never quite as popular in the U.S. as they are in Europe.
But in the 1970s and 1980s American Youth Hostels (AYH) had more than 100, maybe 200.
I've long ago thrown out my guidebook, but they were mostly in the Northeast, Midwest and West.

Today, the few Hosteling International hostels are in big cities.
Nothing like the network of hostels that made it easy for cyclists.
There are still a few private hostels scattered about - run by old hippies.

Quite a few state park systems were paired with AYH - Ohio, Michigan, Washington.
There were hostels all up and down the Washington coast in old military installations like Fort Worden.
The Malabar Farm Hostel in Ohio only recently closed - an oasis on a historic experimental farm.
There still are hostels along the California coast - like Pigeon Point - just not as many.
Alberta's hosteling association operated a chain of hostels in Banff and Jasper national parks.

And the bestest of the best for people on the TransAm was Ernie's Birchwood Hostel in Missoula.
If I had a time machine, I'd like to have just one more visit.
And to thank Ernie for welcoming so many people to his home and hostel.
Not to mention the smartest little dog you will ever see do tricks.

One of the aspects of hostelling that seems so outdated and quaint is the chore responsibility.
Hostels had chore boards and you were expected to sign up for something every day.
That's one of the reasons it was so cheap. Another reason - frugal accommodations.
The Pittburgh Council shut down the Ohiopyle and Pittsburgh hostels when it became too expensive.
Basic cleaning and upkeep became too much for the staff and it just wasn't worth it any more.

In my bike tours during the 1980s, I would often spend one night a week in hostels.
I would meet other cyclists or travellers, make meals together, and talk late into the night.
You don't get that experience in motels eating take-out Chinese and texting folks in Boulder.
I sure do miss it.


Pigeon Point Hostel
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Old 08-04-20, 04:30 PM
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Was a private (not HI/AYH ) , one , here it went upscale a bit Private rooms but still a shared bathroom.
Seaside converted a motel decades ago .. Not on the AYH Map either.

Stayed in one also private , In Eugene in 97 ..







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Old 08-04-20, 04:48 PM
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I usually use HI Hostels:
https://hihostels.com/

Occasionally you run across a private hostel that is not part of the HI network, I have stayed at some of them too.

Last summer, stayed at three HI Hostels, two in Nova Scotia and one in Charlottetown PEI.

I think I have only stayed in five hostels in USA, three private ones and two HI Hostels in Washington DC and in San Francisco (Fishermans Wharf).

Last year when I renewed my membership, they did not mail out a membership card, they said that is electronic now. But then I stayed at hostels in Canada and they always wanted to see my membership card that the USA part of the organization does not mail out any more.

Once I get a Covid Vaccine, I will use them again, but not until then.

Photo is one of the Hostels I stayed at last summer, this one was in Halifax NS, I started and ended my tour there.

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Old 08-04-20, 04:51 PM
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In Scotland I got a pay as you go membership in installments , card ..
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Old 08-04-20, 05:24 PM
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The best hostel was Moab Utah, small cabins with a bunk bed, table with 2 chairs and a window air conditioner.
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Old 08-04-20, 05:29 PM
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Well, hostels were a thing, up until 2019.

COVID will alter hostelling. Many hostels have remained shuttered since the pandemic started, and some of those hostels aren't going to re-open. The whole philosophy and design of hostels is built around being in close proximity to strangers, and that's not something people want to (or should) do in these times. The bigger hostels (mainly in cities) can get around that. They have many rooms and can basically function like a hotel for the time being. But those cool ol' funky smaller hostels with mostly common areas and dorm beds are having a tough go.

I know that Hostelling International-USA is in the process of selling off some of the shuttered hostels, since they're not going to be making any profit off of them for a year or two. It's sad, and I don't know what hostelling is going to look like after this all passes. I'm feeling that there's going to be a lingering wariness around the idea of sleeping in a dorm room for awhile.
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Old 08-04-20, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by adventurepdx View Post
Well, hostels were a thing, up until 2019.

COVID will alter hostelling. Many hostels have remained shuttered since the pandemic started, and some of those hostels aren't going to re-open.
I figure some will but many won't reopen if they closed.

I stayed in one in Seattle at the start of one tour. It was an interesting experience, but not my preferred mode of touring. I prefer to mostly stay out of urban settings on tour. Another was in Marathon, TX on another tour, it was interesting as well. Again more of an interesting diversion than my preferred mode of touring. Weird place...
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Old 08-04-20, 06:44 PM
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Yes, they are still out there, but most are not the same as the older AYH and HI hostels were, and the coronavirus crisis probably isn't doing a lot of them any favors. . Most are 'private' businesses and have the traditional shared 'bunk bed' accomodations, bathroom facilities, laundry room, and individual lockers, but it varies from there. Some charge for bedding, meals are extra (but there's usually a shared kitchen), and some require you do some participatory work (wash dishes, linens, etc). Clientele can vary considerably from nice to nasty.

The last time I stayed in any were two in 2016 in Santa Barbara and Hermosa Beach in California. The Santa Barbara one was basically a somewhat isolated wing of a hotel where the rooms were converted into 'bunk bed' arrangement with a bathroom for each room. The one in Hermosa Beach was more traditional. I also stayed in one in a house not far from the Amtrk station in San Luis Obispo that I liked a lot, actually stayed there on two separate trips. A lot of the newer ones can be found on Booking.com.

I've got more income these days so use a lot more motels.hotels while on the typical 3-7 day tours I like to do.
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Old 08-05-20, 04:28 AM
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Originally Posted by skidder View Post
Yes, they are still out there, but most are not the same as the older AYH and HI hostels were, and the coronavirus crisis probably isn't doing a lot of them any favors. . Most are 'private' businesses and have the traditional shared 'bunk bed' accomodations, bathroom facilities, laundry room, and individual lockers, but it varies from there. Some charge for bedding, meals are extra (but there's usually a shared kitchen), and some require you do some participatory work (wash dishes, linens, etc). Clientele can vary considerably from nice to nasty.
In my limited experience, they vary pretty widely in price, vibe, and accommodations. One was pretty expensive, nice, and had rigid rules, but didn't include much. It did have local artist's work on all the walls.

Another asked for a donation, was pretty freewheeling, fed us like we were family, had any accommodation I could imagine wanting, but in the most basic form, all in a hippy artist commune style. A young family was there on a somewhat extended stay working. They were travelling around working mostly on organic farms (WWOOF)
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Old 08-05-20, 05:43 AM
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Never been a big fan of dorm-style accommodations. Started my first tour in the HI hostel in Seattle in '99. It was really big. A bunch of young folks cam back drunk. One of them snored horribly. Snoring is one of my pet peeves.

Stayed in a private hostel in Whitefish, MT. It was in a house on a property owned by a couple who lived in the main residence. The wife was about to give birth any day. Stayed there the following year (2000) and got to meet the baby girl. Was in Whitefish again in 2009. I had heard that the hostel had closed. Walked by the property and saw what looked to be a girl of about 10 playing in the yard.

The HI hostel at Lake Itasca, which I understand recently closed, was ok, but the guy running it was quite unfriendly. Drill Sergeant when it came to chores the morning we left. He acted like he thought we were going to skip out on him. The weird thing about our two-night stay there was that on the second night an odd woman got in a bit of a row with him because she was uncomfortable sleeping in a room with other women. WTH? Why did you choose to stay at a hostel? She left in the middle of the night.

The private hostel in Minneapolis would probably have been shut down if city officials knew what was going on there. There were many young people living there for the summer. Most of them were Irish and were working in entertainment-related places, like concert venues. The place was so packed, people were sleeping on couches and even floors. I remember getting up on Sunday morning, coming downstairs and having to step over sleeping people to get to the kitchen.

The Rainbow Hostel in Niagara Falls, ON, was a throw back to the 60s. There was even a Merry Prankster-type bus that gave tours of places most tourists didn't see.

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Old 08-05-20, 07:58 AM
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There were a couple hostels in Reykjavik, Iceland, I stayed at the large one near the campground. Was a great place to start and end my bike tour. Grocery store and liquor store were about a km away if I recall correctly. The airport shuttle stopped at the Hostel, I think I had to change buses, but it was still quite convenient.





Considering the price of lodging in Iceland, the hostels were clearly the choice for frugal travelers on a budget.

Speaking of Iceland, after riding my bike all day through windy rain when I was pretty much soaked, I was looking for the campground in a small community. Could not find it but I saw a hostel, so I went in to ask where the campground was. After being in a warm and dry building for about 5 seconds, instead of asking where the campground was, I asked if they had room for one more traveler for the night. It kept raining for the rest of the day and night, I was so happy I found the hostel there.
https://www.hihostels.com/hostels/s-berg


***

I mentioned above that I stayed at the San Francisco Fishermans Wharf hostel. That is another high cost city, but the hostel was quite affordable.

But, I thought that the Moab hostel was a dump. Good price, but that was about all it had going for it. I do not think it met the standards for HI.
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Old 08-05-20, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post

Pigeon Point Hostel
This is the only hostel I have stayed in, in the United States. It was extremely nice. (1989 Pacific Coast bike tour). They refurbished everything, including the lighthouse itself, several years ago.
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Old 08-05-20, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
This is the only hostel I have stayed in, in the United States. It was extremely nice. (1989 Pacific Coast bike tour). They refurbished everything, including the lighthouse itself, several years ago.
Same. Definitely not used to staying in a hostel. Reminded me of my younger days backpacking around Europe on a shoestring budget.
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Old 08-05-20, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
....Stayed in a private hostel in Whitefish, MT. It was in a house on a property owned by a couple who loved in the main residence. The wife was about to give birth any day.....
Actions have consequences.
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Old 08-05-20, 03:22 PM
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I'm no expert as having only stayed at a couple, but probably my least favorite venue for spending a night.
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Old 08-05-20, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
I'm no expert as having only stayed at a couple, but probably my least favorite venue for spending a night.
In addition to the woman at Lake Itasca I mentioned above, we had a bit of a row in Whitefish. There was a guy who had moved to town recently for a new job and was staying at the hostel while looking for an apartment. The mattresses were covered with noisy plastic. One of the members of our touring group was prone to tossing and turning while he slept. That pissed the guy off so much that he got verbally angry. To be honest, the noise disturbed me as well. At some point I went downstairs and slept on a living room couch. I was so tired the next morning that I chose to ride sweep to Glacier NP with the slowest member of our group.

In 2000 I stayed at the Breckinridge HI for two nights along with a couple who was riding across the country on a tandem. You had to put down a $5 key deposit. The woman running the place was a serious crab. I mean a terribly unhappy person from the moment we arrived. She even barked at us about the kitchen being off limits to guests. The evening before our departure we asked for our deposits back because we both had long days and wanted to leave before dawn, hours before the woman told us in a mean way the earliest she would be up. We promised to leave the keys behind after we got our bikes out of the locked storage shed. She refused our requests, so we kept the keys out of spite. Our guess was that she did this to earn a few extra bucks for herself.

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Old 08-05-20, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
I'm no expert as having only stayed at a couple, but probably my least favorite venue for spending a night.
Yeah, my preference is to camp most of the time. Hiker/biker sites are my fave when possible, but I like to wild camp in plain sight a lot too. Now and then a motel room is a nice change of pace.
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Old 08-06-20, 07:24 AM
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There is one in Montreal, although I can't imagine how it operates now, never been in it.

I've stayed in a bunch of hostels in Mexico, some really nice ones, but again with covid I'm sure all will change until it's sorted.
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Old 08-06-20, 07:50 AM
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When I started touring as a college student, I used the hostels on and near to Cape Cod quite a bit. It was an easy two day ride from Boston to the Cape before taking the ferry back. As a result, AYH (become HI) is one of two organizations I have a life membership. Adventure Cycling it the other.

At that point, the hostels on the Cape were particularly popular - and more so than others I tried elsewhere in New England (e.g. East Bridgewater MA and one in NH and others). There were groups from greater NYC area that organized youth programs where a group of teenagers with one or two adult leaders would go bicycling for a week on the Cape and stay at different hostels. This made them sometimes noisy chaotic places. However, an inexpensive place to stay and requiring only a sleep sack it worked for basic touring.

I've stayed in hostels in later tours in Europe, Australia and New Zealand - however, now have a preference for even an inexpensive motel or camping in my tube tent - where I can do this.
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Old 08-06-20, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post

I've stayed in a bunch of hostels in Mexico, some really nice ones, but again with covid I'm sure all will change until it's sorted.
I don't think there are any Hosteling International hostels in Mexico. Guidebooks like Lonely Planet as well as many individuals often refer to places which offer inexpensive shared accommodations and cooking facilities as "hostels", but most of them aren't part of the Hosteling International network.

World map of Hosteling International locations:
https://www.hihostels.com/explore

Years ago, I stayed at an "official" hostel in the Loire valley in France, with a couple of friends while we were touring. There were 3 notable things about that hostel, which were indicative of the contrast between official hostels in the USA and France: This particular French hostel had outhouses, rather than indoor toilets. It had a fantastic restaurant-quality kitchen. And they sold local wine out of a cask for a very cheap price per pitcher. Alcohol was completely banned in American hostels, at least at that time.
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Old 08-06-20, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by axolotl View Post
I don't think there are any Hosteling International hostels in Mexico. Guidebooks like Lonely Planet as well as many individuals often refer to places which offer inexpensive shared accommodations and cooking facilities as "hostels", but most of them aren't part of the Hosteling International network.

World map of Hosteling International locations:
https://www.hihostels.com/explore

Years ago, I stayed at an "official" hostel in the Loire valley in France, with a couple of friends while we were touring. There were 3 notable things about that hostel, which were indicative of the contrast between official hostels in the USA and France: This particular French hostel had outhouses, rather than indoor toilets. It had a fantastic restaurant-quality kitchen. And they sold local wine out of a cask for a very cheap price per pitcher. Alcohol was completely banned in American hostels, at least at that time.
I guess, I didn't really pay attention and either ran into them by exploring for a place to sleep or perhaps we saw the name hostel on Google maps, but I guess none were official hostels, but dorm type places. I've stayed in some hostela in France too, but decades ago,and don't recall if I had a hostel card back then, probably did.
A couple of them in Mexico were really cool places, although I did feel damn old in some, everyone else being the age of my kids.
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