Hostels are here to stay

Mary Helan Vesenka in one of the bunk bedrooms at Friendly Crossways.David Wallace

Both of her parents had visited the center when they were young, she said. His father, Martin Vesenka, was a Concord teacher who ran hostel groups after WWII and later bought the center in 1963. The barn and hayloft were converted into bedrooms. over the years and today the buildings can accommodate up to 62 people. people in a variety of bunk beds and in private single and double rooms.

“Most come by car, but sometimes we pick people up on the train and take them to the market,†she said. “Years ago a lot of hostels were seasonal or a bed in someone’s house, sort of a precursor to Airbnb. But there are fewer hoteliers now.

Founded in Europe, 20th century inns were part of global cultural exchanges and post-war international journeys in search of peace.

Turner and her husband, Keith, brought their family back to Harvard to manage the property in 1996. They live there and uphold both their mission and their heritage, right down to the handmade quilts on the beds and catering. visitors with tomatoes grown on site.

Friendly Crossways, a retreat center and hostel at Harvard.
Friendly Crossways, a retreat center and hostel at Harvard.David Wallace

Knock-and-lock bathrooms are how she describes the toilet, sink, and shower behind a lockable door but shared with others. Travelers unfamiliar with these facilities – more common in Europe and Asia – leave colorful comments online in reviews, so it’s essential to do your homework and know your preferences.

Shared dorms can mean living with a group of travelers. Many hostels close during the day, forcing visitors to leave at a specific time and reopen in the late afternoon. Some have lockers, or secure rooms, for storing valuables, and there may be requests made by visitors, such as removing sheets from beds on the day of departure.

A “seal of approval” is an affiliation with Hostelling International, a membership organization that travelers must join to stay at any of its properties. Walk-in visitors can purchase a day pass or annual membership for the Maryland-based nonprofit formerly known as American Youth Hostels. Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket hostels are two stars in the Hostelling International network, and there is a Hostelling International site on Stuart Street in downtown Boston.

California has the most Hostelling International properties. The locations of downtown New Orleans, Portland, New York, and Chicago are among the organization’s most popular. Most of the hostel’s guests are between the ages of 18 and 35, said Netanya Trimboli, communications director for HI-USA.

“Gateway cities with international airports are where most visitors are international,†she said. “In some of our more rural areas, we see seniors and couples who may be going on weekends to their area. “

Even in large cities, stays are short, on average less than three days, she said.

Booking sites sometimes display hostel options, such as The Coolidge Hotel in White River Junction, Vermont, a classic 1890s railroad hotel, or The Notch Hostel in North Woodstock, NH, a more newer with private rooms.


Rising costs for hotel stays in big cities is one reason hoteliers are adding bunk beds and board games to the lobby lounge that looks like a summer camp. Chicago by show of hands and Ace Hotel New York and London are places where accommodation under $ 100 per night can include one or two roommates.

The Revolution Hotel was once the YWCA.
The Revolution Hotel was once the YWCA.Mount Vernon Co.

Bunk beds also appeal to families who need a room for four, and they provide convenience for groups of friends, a big market for short weekends, said Connie Shaheen, general manager of The Revolution Hotel in Boston. Instead of two queen beds and a sink, a group can move around faster with shared facilities.

“The majority of our inventory is a shared bathroom concept, certainly not for the person who isn’t willing to take a risk. It’s for a more adventurous traveler, those who travel to hostels, â€she added. “We are very transparent on our website. “

The addition of plush bathrobes and a small tote bag in each room makes it easy to travel down the hall in pajamas for more modesty. Shaheen suggests travelers try it at least once for the experience.

“People don’t come to stay in their hotel rooms. They won’t pay $ 700 a night just for a place to rest, â€she said, adding that the Berkeley Street location is a draw due to the South End restaurants and access to walk to downtown.

The building was once the YWCA, which makes the transition easier. Adapting smaller, older structures in cities – especially older office buildings – may be easier to adapt smaller rooms and lobbies, Shaheen said. The Revolution has added a co-working space and a coffee bar to serve guests, but most visitors want to be outside and get things done.

David Wallace can be contacted at [email protected]