There's a new breed of low-cost lodging that's custom-made for getting into the wild
If the word “hostel” reminds you of backpacking through Central America as a twentysomething, think again. A new breed of affordable shelter for travelers has arrived in North American adventure towns, with great rates, comfortable beds, and hotel-like amenities. You won’t have to bring your own sheets or sift through a sink full of dirty dishes to cook your ramen noodles, and there are some great deals to be had—provided you don’t mind sharing a bathroom or cooking your breakfast in the company of others. What’s more, many of these nine spots also offer private rooms.
The Bivvi was born when two adventure-loving college friends decided to buy a run-down B&B and transform it into a modern hostel. Stay in a bunk, a private suite with an in-room hot tub, or a four-person apartment, and you’ll get a ski and bike storage room (equipped with boot driers), and a hot home-cooked breakfast of pancakes or eggs served each morning. A free bus to Breckenridge’s gondola picks you up out front, and wine and craft beer are served at the in-house bar. Bunks start at $29; private rooms at $129.
A block off Truckee’s main drag, the Redlight Hostel offers easy access to skiing at Northstar, Squaw Valley, and Sugar Bowl. Located in a historic building first constructed in the 1880s, the Redlight derives its name from its previous life as a brothel. Bunks are available with privacy curtains, earplugs, and white-noise machines. There are also private rooms with shared bathrooms. A sauna and communal kitchen are on-site, along with ski and bike storage, plus a bar that attracts locals who pop in for a drink. Bunks start at $39; private rooms at $79.
Whistler, British Columbia
The private sleeping quarters at Pangea Pod aren’t spacious, but you’ll get all the comforts of a nice hotel room, including fluffy towels, ski- and bike-savvy concierge services, and a lobby espresso bar. Guests share bathrooms, the gear storage room, and a more-than-spacious lounge that’s stocked with board games. Pods start around $40.
Opened by a world-traveling couple in 2014, the Homestyle Hostel feels like a charming New England bed and breakfast—only way more affordable. Homemade granola and Vermont-roasted coffee is served each morning, and dinner in the on-site restaurant is served Thursday through Sunday. A bar serves espresso by day and cocktails at night. In winter, a shuttle to Okemo Mountain Resort departs from across the street. A bunk in a six-person room starts at $75; private rooms start at $115.
At Hostel Fish, rooms are decorated with wall-sized maps, chandeliers, murals, and vintage clocks. There’s daily housekeeping, iPads available to borrow, free coffee, and a bar and kitchen. The front desk staff is happy to recommend adventures for you, offering tips on everything from nearby mountain bike rides to happy hour at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Bunks start at $35; private rooms from $160.
House of Trestles
San Clemente, California
Surfers make up the majority of guests at House of Trestles, a few miles from San Onofre State Beach, home to San Clemente’s most popular surf breaks. You can rent a surfboard for $25 a day and add a cruiser bike with a surf rack for $15 a day. New to surfing? Book a lesson with the Baja Surf Camp. While drinking kombucha in the lounge, you’ll feel like you’re in the pages of a surf magazine, since each room is sponsored by a different surf brand. You’re relegated to a bunk bed here, but they come with curtains for a touch of privacy. Bunks from $29.
Mountain bikers love Mulberry Gap, a collection of cabins, plus a camp kitchen and dining hall, set on a 15-acre forested property deep in the southern Appalachian Mountains. The place is surrounded by a network of mountain bike trails that have been designated with IMBA Epic status. Home-cooked breakfasts and dinners come included in your stay. Rent a cabin, a bunk cabin, or a campsite, and enjoy access to outdoor hot tubs, fire pits, and communal bathhouses. The staff will tune your bike or shuttle you to a trailhead for an extra fee. Cabins start at $65 per person, or $19 per person for camping.
The Whitefish Hostel grants you superb access to skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort, lake outings on Whitefish Lake, and hiking in Glacier National Park. In winter, you can book the whole house for up to ten friends for $225 a night. During summer months, reserve one of ten bunks starting at $35. The attached Super Sisters Café serves up tasty vegetarian lunches and smoothies.
The Adventure Lodge opened on the west side of Boulder in 2015. You can rent a private cabin or suite, grab a bunk bed, or pitch a tent on wooden platforms on the banks of Fourmile Creek. Midwinter, the hotel offers free weekend shuttles to Eldora Mountain Resort, 30 minutes away. A newly built community room serves beer and wine near a wood-burning fireplace. Bunks start at $65; private rooms at $209.