Boutique Hosteling… For The Discerning Broke Vagabond

boutique hostel

Have you ever stayed at a friend’s house and hung around the fire pit drink beers telling tall tales?…except it was with strangers and a hostel.  That was what the Crash Pad was like when I went to do some whitewater rafting in Chattanooga, TN.  It’s my new home away from home.  If you’ve never stayed in a hostel…like I hadn’t before recently. You may have mixed emotions about the idea.  From a young budget travelers perspective it’s a great way to save money and meet others on the road.  From a older traveler or retiree perspective they may sound like a hassle.  But let me say this. If the Crash Pad is any indication of how other hostels can be… then I’m sold.

Initially, I found a Groupon for some class 3-4 whitewater rafting in western Tennessee for $25.  Yes $25.  I’ll expound upon the greatness of deal a day sites in a later article, but regardless to say I jumped on it. So where was I to stay? Of course immediately hotel chains pop into my mind.  But then a distance memory jogged me and I remembered that a climbing contest I was in down in Tampa, FL was sponsored by a hostel named the Crash Pad. It was supposedly “boutique” as in modern design, green architecture, and it was geared towards adventure activities like climbing, rafting, mountain biking etc. I figure what the hell, I never got the chance when I was traveling through Europe to stay in a hostel, so I’m gonna give it a shot in the good ole U.S. of A.  After a little research from well designed website I was booked and ready.

I had two options.  I could either stay in a “super” bunk for $27 per night or get a private room for $70.  Since I was rafting with my girlfriend I figured she wouldn’t be too happy if I got two bunks and told her to suck it up… so I went with the private room.

The minute we arrived at the crash pad I was emphatically greeted by two guys at the desk talking about climbing so I knew the situation was gonna work out.  They gave us the tour and we “crashed” for the night after being told breakfast was at eight which included eggs, local raw honey, local artisan bread, and a do it yourself mentality. The room itself was nothing like the stories of hostels you here.  It was immaculately clean, modern design, modern art, comfy feather top bed, and had a modern concrete glass inlay sink.  Very posh for $70 bucks a night.  Breakfast the next morning was just like eating at a friends house.  We came down and saw about four other guests in their pj’s firing up the coffee, cooking eggs, and chatting it up so we joined right in making new friends. It wasn’t just young travelers either. I saw several couples in there 40′s and 50′s and one with kids.

After an exhilarating day of rafting and eating local fried chicken at a place that sold koozie’s for 40oz beers ( I had to get one. When do you ever see these?!) we grabbed a 40oz beer to split and headed back to the Crash Pad to relax.  As we were walking up I saw group of people just hanging out by the the gas fire pit out back. So naturally we joined in.  After about five minutes we were all talking like old friends.  One group of girls had come up to go skydiving, two guys had been rock climbing all day, we went whitewater rafting, and the guy working the desk was even out there hanging out with us.  These were my kind of people.  Apparently Chattanooga is a hotspot of adventure activities. I’ve never felt that kind of friendly vibe from any hotel I’ve ever stayed at.  It was an amazing change of pace. The only difference I noticed from a hotel was a communal restroom/shower area (immaculately clean), making your own breakfast, and putting my own dirty linens in the “to be cleaned” basket.  But all those things only added to the experience that it was more like staying at a friends house than a hotel.

Am I going to stay at hostels every place I go? I believe there is a time and place for every accommodation…budget, luxury, mid level,…so no.  But am I going to stay at the Crash Pad again….yep. Probably every time I go to Chattanooga.  The place was a diamond in the rough. It was awesome.  Super friendly staff, great accommodations, killer price, tons of adventure, and a vibe you’ll never get at a hotel. Don’t think twice.

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