With live music, game nights, gourmet meals and dorm rooms that start at $35 a night, these posh hostels are hard to beat.
It’s a Tuesday night at the Homestyle Hostel in Ludlow, Vt. A few guests, back from a day on the slopes, are cooking up their dinner in the chef’s kitchen while kids are playing Twister in the reception area.
Behind the bar, owner/snowboarder/bartender Justin Hyjek stirs up a Good Ol’ Boy with hot brown butter bourbon, habanero liqueur, simple syrup and pear nectar—all made in-house. It’s one of the many concoctions that are gaining Hyjek a local following and recently earned him the title “the best bartender I’ve ever met,” by a reviewer on TripAdvisor.
It’s been a year since Vermont natives Hyjek, 28, and his partner, Eliza Green, 26, returned from traveling around South America and opened the 24-bed hostel in a 200-year-old renovated Victorian in the heart of Ludlow. Already, the Homestyle Hostel is getting rave reviews for everything from its memory-foam mattresses, to the homemade granola breakfasts, to the Thursday-through-Sunday dinners (open to the public as well).
While dinner is “cook your own” on Monday and Tuesday (and the kitchen is open to guests when the chef is not busy), the rest of the week something local is served up every night. In January, Alyssa Prouty, the former sous-chef at The Downtown Grocery, joined the hostel as chef. The limited dinner menu changes often and includes special prix-fixe pop up dinners (about $40). Locals try not to miss Wednesday night: that’s sushi (or tapas) and game night, MC’ed by tuxedo-clad funmeister Steve Kelly (his day job is at the Surf the Earth shop in Killington), who might give away local brews as prizes.
After dinner and drinks, you can roll upstairs to crash in a clean, dorm-style bunkroom ($35 a night) that might sleep two to six or upgrade to a private queen (starting at $100) or book a family suite ($200)—all with shared bath.
“It’s not the college crowd we first expected,” says Green, who got the idea to open a hostel after the couple traveled around South America, staying and working in hostels. “The parking lot might have a beater car, but also the latest Mercedes.”
Homestyle is just one of several of Vermont’s hip hostels, or “poshtels” as the World Travel Market has dubbed the trend.
If not the first, certainly one of the most notable of Vermont poshtels is Hotel Tevere, started by Giles Smith and Sarah Wright in 2009 in an 1860s farmhouse. “We’d traveled all over Italy and we love to cook and wanted to bring the European hostel idea here to Vermont,” says Wright, a former architect, as she balances her toddler on her hip.
Located just south of Sugarbush on Route 100, Hostel Tevere has a fresh contemporary flair with walls
painted with bold colors and bright artwork. This season, the hostel has cut back its delicious dinners (think mushroom and leak lasagna or chicken and root vegetable pot pie) to just guests on Friday and Saturday nights (with Hostel Burgers every Thursday). But the hostel bar still rocks for the public on weekends with local craft brews on tap, mean dart games, a well-stocked bar and live music such as jazz/rock band Talking Doctor and local favorite, The Grift.
The dorm rooms are decked out with plump duvets and crisp sheets and bright, contemporary colors. Fresh flowers decorate the tables and produce from the garden shows up in the menu all season long.
“We have entire families that book our dorm rooms,” says Wright. Rates start at $40 a night for adults on weekends for a dorm room.
Of course, there are also a number of other classic hostels and old-style lodges such as Killington’s Turn of the River Lodge, the Warren Falls Inn and Hostel (with a communal kitchen) and the dorm rooms at The Round Hearth at Stowe. These all take large groups and offer some of the best values in the state when it comes to a bed and breakfast.