BOULDER, Colo. –
From backpackers and globe-trotters to traditional, all-American road-trippers, the Boulder International Hostel in the city’s University Hill neighborhood is a home away from home.
“The hostel is like our home,” said Peach Kaew-Ngarn , who is staying at the hostel on a work-exchange program with 17 university students from Thailand. “The people that work here are very nice. They try to answer any of our questions and help us as much as they can.”
While sharing a meal with some of her travel companions in the hostel’s second-floor community kitchen, Kaew-Ngarn said that life at the hostel has helped turn the group into a closely knit circle of friends, even though the group is comprised of students from several different universities.
“This time of year is like our summer break,” she said. “It’s been a fun new experience.”
Hostels are noted for their difference from hotels — they are less expensive, less formal and more communal in nature.
Established in 1961, the 25,000-square-foot Boulder International Hostel can house nearly 100 people at its busiest times.Accommodations are a mixture of private rooms that can sleep up to four, single-sex dormitory rooms that can hold up to eight men or six women in each, and two annexes that can serve as bases for larger groups, especially those that plan long-term stays.
Manager LilianMitchell said that the peak season for the hostel is from late July to late August, when a steady stream of European backpackers get mixed in with temporarily displaced students.
Manager Deepak Sinhasaid that the opportunity to form new friendships with fellow guests is one of the distinguishing characteristics of life at the hostel.
“While guests might not interact very much with other guests at a hotel, here you frequently find them interacting in the community kitchen or living room — and that makes a difference,” Sinha said.
After working in the hostel for 20 years, Sinha knows how pleasantly surprised guests sometimes are by the friendly, outgoing attitude among visitors.
“Sometimes we get people who wouldn’t normally stay at a hostel — like parents of kids who stay at the university who don’t want to spend the hundreds of dollars for a hotel — so they try staying here,” Sinha said. “And actually, they usually really like it — and a lot of them come back.”
Another manager, Mitchell, said that the addition of guests who aren’t as familiar with staying in hostels, even students who need a temporary place to stay between leases, often make for an even more interesting dynamic.
“I love seeing people meet each other,” Mitchell said. “There’s a certain culture to our front porch when it’s nice outside. Guests will start pairing up or getting into groups to go hiking or go downtown. Some people choose to stay in dorms just so they can meet new people.”
While business is currently on the slower side in the wake of the spring-break rush, the location remains a sought-after destination for a variety of guests.
“I’ve seen quite a few hostels in the last month, and this one looks very nice,” said Kristin Leibalfrom Leipzig, Germany, who arrived at the hostel on Sunday afternoon. “It’s clean and spacious and the staff is nice . . . I’m glad to be here.”