Let’s face some basic facts – “Hostels are dirty, run down, loud, and filled with unwashed backpackers,” and that statement would be correct if I said it 30 years ago. Now, as baby boomers are taking over the travel world, things are rapidly changing. Modernization, safety, and sanitation are now the priorities, rightfully so as budget travel meets boomers on budgets.
When I traveled through parts of Europe back in the early seventies, hostels were for backpackers and a few other brave souls. Times have changed, and my recent experience at the Hostel Obispo, California has changed my opinion about choosing a hostel for my next stay. At sixty, my definition of comfortable has changed drastically from my late teens as yours probably has as well.
I took my youngest son to his first “hostel” stay in San Luis Obispo, California, just a few short blocks from the Amtrak station. He had many questions about where we were staying for the night, including “do they have WiFi?” and I only had one question on my mind “who will be staying there with us?”.
Our first meet & greet at check in was a young lady, about 30 years old, from Argentina, touring the U.S. during her three-week holiday.
That was it, no one else showed up at check in time, the hostel was full, but we were the only ones checking in which meant everyone else was here for more than one night. The hostel receptionist was my age, excited to have us here, and after a brief tour showed us our room.
Our room, though sparse, was very comfortable with a queen sized bed and a bunk bed allowing at least four people to share a room. The shared bathroom was just next door, with its large walk-in shower, sink, and toilet.
The other rooms on the second floor included multiple “dorm style” bunk beds sleeping up to ten people per room. Handicap rooms and restrooms occupied the ground floor below us.
Our quick tour of the hostel revealed a generous family room, dining room, and kitchen to feed a crowd.
The kitchen is, of course, self-serve for those who prefer to cook their meals. Hostel Obispo provided everything except the food required to gourmet your way to culinary bliss, with the single exception of providing their homemade pancake batter every morning for you to make breakfast with.
Hostel Obispo includes a laundry room too!
After a nice walk around San Luis Obispo’s downtown area, dinner and a movie with my son, we returned to the hostel. Very much to my surprise and delight, the common area was full of people enjoying various forms of entertainment. Some were eating a late dinner, others engaged in conversations and some quietly reading or working on their computers. Hostel Obispo has musical instruments for you to enjoy as well as a bookcase full of used books to read if you desire.
I was overwhelming happy to notice the lopsided ratio of Baby Boomers to millenniasl in residence. The majority of the guests were 50+ and I was not suspecting this! I was actually worried that my son’s first hostel experience was going to be one big party night. At 13 years old, somewhat worldly, I think my son is still a hotel kinda guy but that should change as he gets older and dragged around the world with his dad, I think his feelings will change.
All of this just re-confirmed my belief that staying at a hostel is a great way to enjoy a location without breaking the bank and getting to meet interesting people of all ages from around the world. I have many more hostel locations in mind for my travels and I certainly plan on revisiting Hostel Obispo again.
What has your hostel experience been and do you have any recommendations?