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Engine
07-13-2016, 06:29
My wife and I are planning a SOBO thru hike in 2017 and while we are fairly experienced, we've only stayed in one hostel. That was during the off season and we had the place to ourselves. Given the party atmosphere I've heard about at many of the hostels, is this typical or something more commonly associated with the NOBO bubble? Is there usually any privacy to be had?

We would like to cut costs by avoiding motels when possible...

Gambit McCrae
07-13-2016, 08:01
I have not had a bad experience in a hostel...For the most part. I have stayed in some that are not so nice, and I've spent some time in others that are really nice. I would suggest looking at the hostel and where'd you would be staying, and if it doesn't suit your fancy most all hostels allow tenting.

illabelle
07-13-2016, 09:15
We've stayed in several hostels, avoiding any that have a party reputation, and not had any issues. I tend to agree with your suspicion that the NOBO bubble is where most of the problems are.

colorado_rob
07-13-2016, 09:22
Yeah, truly, my hostels stays while in the bubble were completely different than my "off-season" hostel stays. It really does make a difference when in or around that darn "bubble", so going SOBO should be much better in this respect, even when you reach the NOBO's, they are so thinned out by then, it should no issue.

Gambit McCrae
07-13-2016, 09:26
Yeah, truly, my hostels stays while in the bubble were completely different than my "off-season" hostel stays. It really does make a difference when in or around that darn "bubble", so going SOBO should be much better in this respect, even when you reach the NOBO's, they are so thinned out by then, it should no issue.

I COULD be wrong, as I have not followed a bubble to Maine, but I would imagine 99% the party scene that would be a disturbance has either quit hiking, or quit their habits by somewhere in southern half of VA.

Engine
07-13-2016, 10:07
Thanks to everyone for the info. It's kind of funny, we're not anti-social and in fact we enjoy the company of other hikers...just on our terms. :-)

mandolindave
07-13-2016, 10:08
Privacy????? You might get lucky. Think of the worst motel that you have decided not to stay at. Then imagine that the room hasn't been cleaned in a while. Then imagine that you have to share the room with dirty, farting hikers. Then imagine there's a party going on. Then try not to be paranoid about the Nora Virus. I guess if I had blisters, shin splints, sore knees, I smelled like a donkeys butt, it was raining really hard, or it was really cold out, I would stay at one again. But not with my girlfriend.

mandolindave
07-13-2016, 10:09
I know there are some great hostels

Slo-go'en
07-13-2016, 10:17
Typically, the atmosphere is quite stinky.

Gambit McCrae
07-13-2016, 10:25
Privacy????? You might get lucky. Think of the worst motel that you have decided not to stay at. Then imagine that the room hasn't been cleaned in a while. Then imagine that you have to share the room with dirty, farting hikers. Then imagine there's a party going on. Then try not to be paranoid about the Nora Virus. I guess if I had blisters, shin splints, sore knees, I smelled like a donkeys butt, it was raining really hard, or it was really cold out, I would stay at one again. But not with my girlfriend.

IMO this is inaccurate and should be taken with a grain of salt. Most all hostels I have stayed at are cleaned daily, have private rooms, singular shower bathrooms(privacy), do not smell, fresh sheets, some sort of warm breakfast and complimentary shuttle to town at least twice a day.

C-shell
07-13-2016, 10:41
My husband and I hiked northbound last year and only stayed at a couple of hostels so I cant comment on the atmosphere in most hostels. We found that the cost of a hostel for two people was close enough to the cost of a cheap motel that we were willing to pay a bit more (or less) for some privacy. That being said, we started our hike at the Hiker Hostel in Dahlonega and have stayed there a couple of times for short hikes and that place is awesome.

tiptoe
07-13-2016, 13:00
I've stayed at many hostels, too, and not had problems. But I planned my Southern sections to avoid the bubble, and hiked southbound.

Scrum
07-13-2016, 13:06
I have only stayed in a few, and they were all relatively clean, quiet and friendly. I caught the tail end of the bubble in Gorham NH in September while staying at the White Mountain Lodge and Hostel. I thought it was outstanding, as did my 19 year old daughter. It was a mix of thrus, section hikers, and even a few peak baggers. I would not hesitate to stay there again.

Odd Man Out
07-13-2016, 13:21
I've only stayed at a hostel on one night. It was a "donations accepted" kind of place that was very rustic. It was in central VA and not during the thru hiker season. That night a "hiker" with a drinking problem threw a temper tantrum after being evicted for staying a few nights longer than he was welcome. However, I look forward to future stays at other hostels as I assume my first and only experience to date was an exception rather than the rule. I wonder if hostels that charge a set fee are less prone to attracting problem hikers than the "donations accepted" hostels.

Jeff
07-13-2016, 14:01
The trail grapevine is very strong and mostly accurate. You will quickly learn where to stay and where to avoid.

Most hostels, motels and restaurants work hard to maintain a good reputation but the ultimate judge are the hikers we serve.

MuddyWaters
07-13-2016, 20:05
You can never tell, a lot depends on fellow travelers.

ONE sketchy person can ruin it and make you wish youd just sprung the extra for motel.

The nicer place, better kept, stricter rules, the better chances of a good stay.

Connie
07-14-2016, 08:05
My hostel experience: stinky, no privacy, very little sleep, stolen gear, stolen food, "party people".

The one good experience: the Ft. Mason, San Francisco hostel had a separate accomodation for handicapped, and I was in a wheelchair.

Crazy Larry #1
07-14-2016, 08:26
My wife and I are planning a SOBO thru hike in 2017 and while we are fairly experienced, we've only stayed in one hostel. That was during the off season and we had the place to ourselves. Given the party atmosphere I've heard about at many of the hostels, is this typical or something more commonly associated with the NOBO bubble? Is there usually any privacy to be had?

We would like to cut costs by avoiding motels when possible...There are sobo's that party just as much as the nobo's but for the most part the bad apples have been weeded out. I own a hostel, I don't drink but I allow it. Back when I was hiking, I drank back then too, I would avoid hostels that had a party atmosphere because the law could get called anytime was my reasoning and I did not want to get caught up anything. But if I were to go out there today and if I had the money I would not avoid any of it, I'd check it out because I might have one of the best experiences I ever had. If your warning signal goes off listen to it and get out of there. Remember this, especially if you run into a hiker telling you such and such hostel is not good or this place is better than that place and so forth, just have your own opinion and check it out because what you are getting is the advice based on their experience only. Who knows they may have did something to bring about the bad experience. If you hear a good many hikers talking crap about someplace, could be some truth to it but there again check it out.

Crazy Larry #1
07-14-2016, 08:36
The trail grapevine is very strong and mostly accurate. You will quickly learn where to stay and where to avoid.

Most hostels, motels and restaurants work hard to maintain a good reputation but the ultimate judge are the hikers we serve.
I agree with you somewhat on this. With that said every year there is some kind of drama either with a business along the trail or a hiker. And when the rumors begin there will be more crap and lies tacked to the truth of the matter that makes you want to avoid that person or business altogether. I know first hand about this kind of slandering. For the most part I have had a good run so far, no complaints there. But I have been drug through the mud not only once but a few times because I had a disagreement with some hiker that everyone listens too.

Like I suggested to the original poster, be alert but have your own opinion on what you hear, don't just listen to every bit of gossip there is about someplace because more often than not you are getting a story that has been passed around and added to

Crazy Larry #1
07-14-2016, 08:37
Thanks to everyone for the info. It's kind of funny, we're not anti-social and in fact we enjoy the company of other hikers...just on our terms. :-)
Exactly..............................

Crazy Larry #1
07-14-2016, 08:40
Typically, the atmosphere is quite stinky.:clap:clap:clap:clap:clap:clap

Puddlefish
07-14-2016, 09:21
From what I observed, there is no "most" when it applies to hostels. A whole lot depends on your own perception, perhaps flavored with how many days you've been on the trail, how tired you are, how miserable the weather is, etc. Talking to hikers who spent the exact same night at the exact same hostel I did, I often got wildly conflicting opinions about the quality of the stay.

I noticed some correlation between how professional the host/owner was, as to how the hiker's behaved, but even that isn't foolproof. There are a few owners who oozed southern charm, but in the evening they went home so they could get a good nights sleep away from the noise.

There's an education aspect as well; early in Georgia, there were a good number of new hikers who would just flip on the light switch at midnight as they settled into their bunk. Further on the trail, absolutely everyone used their red headlight to move around in the dark. I suspect some of them never even heard of hiker midnight.

There's something to be said for the bubble party crowd, but it still comes down to your reaction. You can lie in your bunk among the noise, and get yourself worked up into a rage, and end up yelling "get off my lawn" at the noisy people. I didn't want to spend my vacation being angry, so I avoided this method.

Join the campfire for a bit, make friends, and then at a semi reasonable hour tell your new friends you need some sleep and ask them to quiet down for the evening. Not feeling social, you can lie in your bunk and read until midnight, then calmly walk out to the campfire and ask them to settle down. I found even the noisiest hikers to be receptive to a calm discussion about what time they plan on wrapping up the party.

virginia jen
08-22-2016, 22:27
Some motels are cheaper, and better than the hostels. I stayed at a hiker hostel in Pearisburg, VA. It was $20/bed. In one crowded room full of twenty hikers. 2 toilets, 2 showers (better then some places where is just one). Hikers watch the stupidest movies all night long when they drink.... didn't sleep well. It would have only been $44 total to split a hotel room at the place.

Most of my hostel experiences were wonderful though. I look forward to going back.

Trailweaver
08-23-2016, 01:37
Most of the ones I've been are clean & well run, but like hotels some are going to be of higher quality than others. They always have interesting people & conversation. Kinda worth the hiker stink, for me anyway.

Sarcasm the elf
08-23-2016, 08:25
Some motels are cheaper, and better than the hostels. I stayed at a hiker hostel in Pearisburg, VA. It was $20/bed. In one crowded room full of twenty hikers. 2 toilets, 2 showers (better then some places where is just one). Hikers watch the stupidest movies all night long when they drink.... didn't sleep well. It would have only been $44 total to split a hotel room at the place.

Most of my hostel experiences were wonderful though. I look forward to going back.

The other thing to keep in mind is that different people look for different things. The hostel you describe is the sort of thing that would have been awesome to me back when I was 21 years old, now that I'm 35 I'd gladly opt for the peaceful motel instead.

dudeijuststarted
09-23-2016, 14:42
hostels are awesome when no one else is around. you get treated like a king. tip: flip flop.

Diamondlil
09-23-2016, 14:58
Privacy????? You might get lucky. Think of the worst motel that you have decided not to stay at. Then imagine that the room hasn't been cleaned in a while. Then imagine that you have to share the room with dirty, farting hikers. Then imagine there's a party going on. Then try not to be paranoid about the Nora Virus. I guess if I had blisters, shin splints, sore knees, I smelled like a donkeys butt, it was raining really hard, or it was really cold out, I would stay at one again. But not with my girlfriend.

Not all are like this.
All hostles have showers. And the majority, if you are staying inside, sleeping inside their home, require you to shower before you eat or sleep in their home. Just remember, you are not paying for four star accommodations so don't expect it.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

KDogg
09-23-2016, 15:15
Some can be really nice and some can be a nightmare. There is a really broad range of. One piece of advice is to avoid free or donation based hostels. I found that these generally attracted the party crowd and the cleanliness was not so good. Hostels in the North tend to be much nicer. The South, not so nice although there are exceptions. I hiked with a group and we were able to stay in hotels for not too much more than the price of hostels. Having a private bathroom was worth the extra cost usually.

If you like the social atmosphere of a hostel then you may be able to overlook the negatives. Guthook's guide has some information about hostels in the user comments and word of mouth will help you decide as well.

kayak karl
09-23-2016, 20:30
I never pick the cheapest Hostel out of the guide. Never. It has worked well for me/us. :)

Coffee
09-24-2016, 06:47
I like hostels with a no alcohol policy. It weeds out the party crowd quite nicely. For example, Teahorse in HF is one of the cleanest hostels I've ever seen and didn't allow alcohol when I've been there.

I spent quite a bit of time in the alps a year ago staying in the hut system. Anyone who thinks that US hostels lack personal space hasn't been to a Matratzenlager. Wall to wall beds and, when full, you can literally be sleeping right next to someone. Google the term for pics. Now, 90% of the time places were not full, but I had a few very crowded nights. Now I'm burned out of shared accommodations and really prefer tenting almost all the time.

Bronk
09-24-2016, 19:35
The main difference between a hostel and a shelter is that hostels are generally enclosed and sometimes they are heated and sometimes they have bunks.

AfterParty
09-24-2016, 19:49
I just want to shower and do laundry I'll sleep in the woods.

Open Arms
10-19-2016, 20:34
Thanks, Ron, from Open Arms Hostel.

Hiker8261
11-13-2016, 11:28
My preference is my tent, a shelter, a hotel, then a hostel. For no other reason then I snore and move a lot when I sleep and am kept awake by the same. I almost always support and visit the hostels along the trail as they serve a valuable purpose, information, shuttles, etc, especially in the social part of the AT experience.
Being a retired firefighter and fire inspector though, I do cringe at the conditions at many of the venues. Of course, there are motels that are worse (Doyle immediately comes to mind).

chris

DSPeabody
03-23-2017, 19:19
Anybody have an estimate of how many hostels there are up and down the AT?

Busky2
03-23-2017, 21:56
M
Being a retired firefighter and fire inspector though, I do cringe at the conditions at many of the venues. Of course, there are motels that are worse (Doyle immediately comes to mind).

chris

As a retired firefighter I just loved the Doyle, I felt right at home, yep, back at work ready to start overhaul operations.

Sarcasm the elf
03-23-2017, 22:07
The atmosphere in most hostels is 20.95% oxygen. However many appear to have 5-10% methane at night. :D

Sarcasm the elf
03-23-2017, 22:09
As a retired firefighter I just loved the Doyle, I felt right at home, yep, back at work ready to start overhaul operations.



Are you suggesting that you don't trust top quality craftsmanship such as this electrical work? 38845

rocketsocks
03-23-2017, 22:27
Are you suggesting that you don't trust top quality craftsmanship such as this electrical work? 38845whats that in the lower left hand corner? Looks like a budski

Sarcasm the elf
03-23-2017, 23:09
whats that in the lower left hand corner? Looks like a budski

Just various parts of a borrowed jetboil Sumo laid out on a stovetop.

rafe
03-24-2017, 08:13
Anybody have an estimate of how many hostels there are up and down the AT?

Couple of dozen, give or take. Depends on how you define "hostel." There's no formal designation. Some have been around forever but others come and go. FreeState hostel in MD was wonderful -- but that was ten years ago, and they formally closed down a year or two back. Frats and dorm rooms at Dartmouth? No more, I think. Terrapin Station hostel near Front Royal has been on and off for a couple years now. The list changes every year.

Some are free but offer no services, other than a roof over your head. Jim Murray's place, and Dan Quinn's.

Elmers', NOC, Woods Hole, Ms. Janet's, Kincorra, Teahorse, The Doyle, Hikers Welcome, Shaws... these are perennial, almost. Just a small sampling. But any one of them could shut down "without prior notice" as they say.

Lone Wolf
03-24-2017, 08:26
way more than a couple of dozen. there are 6 in damascus alone

Dogwood
03-24-2017, 09:59
I like hostels with a no alcohol policy. It weeds out the party crowd quite nicely. For example, Teahorse in HF is one of the cleanest hostels I've ever seen and didn't allow alcohol when I've been there...


Some can be really nice and some can be a nightmare. There is a really broad range of. One piece of advice is to avoid free or donation based hostels. I found that these generally attracted the party crowd and the cleanliness was not so good. Hostels in the North tend to be much nicer. The South, not so nice although there are exceptions. I hiked with a group and we were able to stay in hotels for not too much more than the price of hostels. Having a private bathroom was worth the extra cost usually.

If you like the social atmosphere of a hostel then you may be able to overlook the negatives. Guthook's guide has some information about hostels in the user comments and word of mouth will help you decide as well.


hostels are awesome when no one else is around. you get treated like a king. tip: flip flop.

Engine since you're doing a SOBO with the Misses you'll have more opportunity for non crowded conditions than the NOBO masses. Look for church hostels or those being professionally run or with a good cleanliness no party atmosphere rep AND with private rooms. When you hike through the NOBO masses which could be a few wks time, that might be a period to bite the bullet and look for an inexpensive hotel room or hostels with definite private room availability.

soilman
03-24-2017, 12:16
way more than a couple of dozen. there are 6 in damascus alone

I did a quick count from the 2017 Thru Hikers Companion and come up with 57 hostels or similar establishments.

DSPeabody
03-24-2017, 12:36
I did a quick count from the 2017 Thru Hikers Companion and come up with 57 hostels or similar establishments.

That's what I was thinking. The other thread about looking for a hostel to buy amazed me that there were so many for sale, and then wondering just how many of these places are out there anyway? I'm obviously not a thru-hiker but hope to be one someday.

waynecamp48
08-02-2017, 20:06
I noted your qualifier "not during the thru hiker season". I've backpacked about half of the AT and stayed in many hostels. I'd much rather stay with the thru hikers. Outside of the bubble, I've run into drunks, homeless people, "lost" souls, and the terminally weird.

Starchild
08-02-2017, 21:04
No real party atmosphere during my entire 2013 NoBo in the bubble, just more people, so crowded and snoring. Thru hikers are tired and want their sleepy time time. Some will go out and smoke weed early on, the drinking crowd will be back early from dinner, and most all will be tucked in their bunks by hiker's midnight (sundown).