A DIFFERENT KIND OF HOSTEL

Whenever I’ve gone to Washington DC for a 30 Plus Teams Tour , I either stay at a hotel or a hostel.

I usually stay at one particular hostel, Hostel International Washington DC , which is a DC Circular bus ride away from Union Station.

Because the hostel was all filled up, I went with another hostel in a neighborhood that I really didn’t know anything about but had heard of .

It’s the U Street Hostel in where else but the U Street Corridor , and it’s not even that far from the green and yellow metro station of U Street /African-American Memorial / Cardoso .

The actual address is 1931 U Street NW at 13th street .

One word about adresses in DC, make sure you know if it’s NW or SW that you’re going to.

Most of the areas that tourists go to when they come to DC is NW.

But let’s get back to the hostel.

The beds which really aren’t beds, they’re pods.

Your pod has their own reading light, and you can control the air or heat in your own pod.

You know you want to take selfies for those perfect Facebook or Instagram pictures,right?

No need to leave your pod.

There’s a mirror right in there and a light to get that perfect or not so perfect picture .

You want privacy while you’re in your pod?

Just pull down your privacy shade.

You can only check in at 3pm or maybe closer to 3, say like 2:30 or so if a bed is available .

Check out time is 11am on the dot and unlike most hostels, you don’t have to check in at the front desk , just put your key fob in the mail slot, right by the desk .

Now how do they know who checked out?

Easy.

Your key fob has your room and bed number so don’t think you’re pulling a fast one on the staff.

The showers are in the basement and while that’s inconvenient , it is what it is.

They are kept very clean as is the rest of the hostel .

The staff is very helpful and tell you all you need to know about your stay at the hostel .

They even give you a tour of the hostel before you check into your room.

They don’t have a kitchen but a continental breakfast of toast , waffles and cereal is available everyday from 7:30am until 9am.

Plus tea and coffee are available all day.

There’s no lockers so find some space by your pod or the wall for your suitcase .

What hostel do you know has a robot vacuum cleaner and art works from local artists that you can buy?

U Street Hostel does.

You ask when I go back to DC would I stay here again?

You bet your sweet pod I would .

A GREAT STAY AT THE FREEHAND HOTEL IN LOS ANGELES

The next part of my 30 Plus Teams Tour took me to the city that I called home for 10 years, Los Angeles, California .

I left LA in 2006, and this was the first time that I had been back since then.

(Ironically, I moved to Las Vegas after that.)

When I lived in town, I rarely went downtown .

The only time I got to what is now known DTLA or Downtown Los Angeles, was to go to, where else , Staples Center to see a Kings hockey game, and as I was a freelance hockey writer , to interview opposing hockey players .

This time, I looked on line and saw a place called The Freehand Hotel and Hostel .

If it sounds familiar , that’s because they have branches in New York City , Miami and Chicago .

I haven’t been to any of the others, but if they’re anything like the one in Los Angeles , I’m going to be staying there too, except for the New York City one.

This hostel looks NOTHING like a hostel.

It’s located in a former commercial building and you can see that as you go up to your room.

Even though it wasn’t that warm, they have a rooftop pool

The lobby here at the Freehand reminds me of the lobby of the Hostelling International in Boston , very spacious , and could be a living room in someone’s house .

It’s that big and spacious.

The hostel is very convenient to get to by public transportation if you are at Union Station.

(Yes, they have trains in Los Angeles and they’re very clean, but more about them in another post.)

You can also take a cab or Uber or Lyft to get there as well.

There’s restaurants in the place as well as a store .

How are the rooms?

Sorry,not sorry, my bed at home should be as comfy.

The beds have lighting , very good lighting at that , outlets, and padding so that you either don’t roll over or can store things on.

(My stuffed animals had a spot on the bed for themselves , don’t judge me , okay ? )

What I liked about this hostel , among other things , was not only how professional the staff was from the moment that I checked in, but you needed your key to get everywhere, even the lounge for eating,relaxing and to get to the laundry room .

In every room,there were lockers but not your average metal lockers thay you see in most hostels.

These lockers were made of wood.

Wow how classy is this place?!

You pay much more than you would for a regular type hostel, but hey, I’m from New York City , EVERYTHING is expensive , so I don’t mind paying a little bit more for great service and a great stay, which is exactly what I received at the Freehand Los Angeles .

You better believe , God willing , my next stay in the City of Angels is gonna be here.

Thank you, Freehand Los Angeles , ya did good!

REVOLUTIONARY TALES – BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – HOSTEL INTERNATIONAL BOSTON

15741138_10209581065256860_7178278709027647454_n15727382_10209581065136857_3668787696533672403_n12119988_10206273333125624_449651143605530036_o15698083_10209581062496791_9171902710831967330_n15726879_10209566076882160_5612079994920289691_n12279047_10206421694834574_8873849533717087032_n15727134_10209581077737172_9050535905828733217_n15697659_10209581072217034_1162954352304140085_n12052363_10206267685224430_2196504495219363579_o15697259_10209581080457240_7972839033145568731_n15740831_10209581055976628_5881142736025342517_n1396906_10201430120448334_337747470_oIt’s  located  in the  heart  of  Boston ,  halfway  between Chinatown  and the  Theater District  of  the  city .

It’s  part  of  the  Hostelling   International  group ,  which  has hostels  all over  the  world .

This  hostel is  very  easy  to  get  to  by public  transportation .

If you’re  coming  from  Boston  Logan  Airport ,  you can take the  free Silver Line train to South  Station  and  walk a few blocks  down  to  the hostel  at 19 Stuart Street .

If you’re  arriving  by an Amtrak  train, Greyhound  or Megabus, you’ll  arrive  at South  Station  as well.

You have  two other options  besides walking  when you get to  South  Station .

You can either take the Silver Line bus, which isn’t  free, and drops you off across  the  street  from  the  hostel ,  or if  it’s  late at night ,  and you really  don’t  know  your way around  the  city, take one of  the  many cabs that wait  outside  the  terminal .

Have the  address  of the  hostel  handy just  in case  the  cab driver  claims  he doesn’t  know  how  to  get  there  and tries  to  overcharge  you .

I’m  very biased ,  but I  like  to think that  this  is  one of  the  nicest  hostels  in  the  country ,  and given  all  the  reviews  that this  hostel  receives  from many of  the  hostel  AND hotel booking  sites ,  I’m  not  the  only  one  who  feels  this  way .

The building  that  the  hostel  is located  in  was  once  an office  building .

It has  six floors  and  like  most  of  the  hostels  in  the  world ,  Hostel  International  Boston  has private  rooms ,  and dormitory  rooms  with four, six, and  eight  bunk beds .

You  have  male ,  female ,  and  coed rooms .

Each  room  has lockers, so remember  to  bring  your own  padlock .

If you don’t  have  one, you can buy one at the  front  desk .

Each bed also has a private lamp so you won’t  disturb your bunkmates.

There’s  no  curfew per say, but if you come  back late from partying  in the clubs on Lansdowne  Street  or those hockey ,  baseball ,  or basketball  games   at TD Gardens  or Fenway  Park ,  just remember  to  keep  the  noise  down  to  a  minimum .

When  you  first  check  into  the  hostel ,  you’ll  be  asked  if you  have  a Hosteling International  membership  card ,  and they also  want to  make  sure  that  you  don’t  live  less than  90  miles  away .

If do  live less than the 90 miles ,  you can’t  stay  at the hostel .

If you  don’t  have  a membership  card ,  they add three dollars  per night  to your bill.

That might  not  seem  like  much ,  but I  would  advise  getting  one.

The card doesn’t  only  work  for  this  hostel ,  but for  Hostel  International  branches  all over the  world .

Membership  is good  for  one year .

Check  in time  is  2pm or earlier ,  if beds are available .

If not, you can store your bags at the  hostel  and  explore  the  city  until  a bed is ready.

Check  out  time  is  11am .

There’s  a small  cafe  area  right  next  to  the  big  and spacious  lobby  area .

They  also  have  a  jar  of  cookies  right  at the  front  desk .

There’s  also free WiFi  in the hostel ,  they’ll  give  you  the  password  at the  front  desk  .

The elevator  is right  in front  of  you  as you  use your  key card  for  entrance  from the  lobby  into  the  hallway .

If your room  is  on the  second  floor ,  you can get your exercise  and walk up the  stairs ,  unless  your bags  are heavy.

All the  hallways  from  the  third  floor  all the  way  up to  the  six floor  might  look familiar  to some  of  you  if you’ve  been  to Boston  before .

The hallways  are  painted  in blue ,  orange ,  red, and  green .

That’s  right ,  those  are  the  colors  of  the  four  “T”  lines that  make  up  the Boston  subway .

If you  want  to   go sightseeing   in the  city  and aren’t  sure which  stops  are on what  train  line, you don’t  need  a  guide .

Just  look  at  the  shower curtains  in all of   the  bathrooms .

It’s  the map of all the  subway  stations  in the  city, including  the  commuter lines that run from South Station  and  North  Station ,  called  the Purple  line.

But please don’t  depend on the shower  curtain .

Get yourself  a  Boston  city  guide from  the  front  desk  if you didn’t  bring  one  with  you .

Like many hostels ,  they also have  free breakfast .

It runs from  7am until  10am, every day.

Coffee, tea, and water are free all day but for the daily  breakfast ,  there’s  white or wheat bread, bagels, fruit, hard boiled eggs ,  cereal, yogurt ,  as well as orange juice  and  apple juice .

The kitchen ,  which is  on the second  floor ,  has cooking  facilities ,  dishes, pots and  pans ,  cooking  utensils ,  condiments  and a place  to  store  your  food .

Just  remember to  label  your food  if you put it in the refrigerator  or pantry.

They provide  labels  for you.

If you don’t  label  your food ,  someone  might  take  it or worse, the staff will throw  it  away .

The second floor  also has a laundry room ,  reading  room ,  game room, and my favorites ,  the candy vending  machines  and  the  TV  room .

There’s  also computers so that you  can print  out  your boarding  pass  or  make  another  reservation  for  one of  the  other  Hostelling  International  locations .

The hostel  is   in  such a central  location ,  so you  can  walk  to  Chinatown  for  either  Chinese ,  Vietnamese , Malaysian ,  Japanese  or Thai  food .

There’s  even  fast  food  restaurants  close  enough  as bars and  pubs stay open fairly  late due  to  the  fact  that  this  is  the  Theater  District .

If you  don’t  want  to  have  take  out  food, Walgreens ,  CVS  and good  old  7-Eleven  are a block  or so  away  from  the  hostel for those groceries  that you might need.

Unlike  the Old  City  Hostel  in Philadelphia  that I  mentioned  in  an earlier  post , (  See  sportsandtravelblog.wordpress.com /  2017 / 05/ 05 Liberty  -Tales – Philadelphia  –  Pennsylvania  –  The  -House  -At-325-Cherry-Street), this hostel  is a  “dry” hostel .

Don’t  look  for  any alcohol ,  because  it’s  not  allowed  on the  premises  anywhere .

The rooms  have  bathrooms  right  outside  the room ,  so remember  to  bring  your  key  card  with you  .

The  most  nights  that  one  can  stay  in the  hostel  is 14 days  in a calendar  year.

Other hostels  have this  rule  as well .

The  hotels  in town  are fairly  expensive ,  but  this  hostel  is a very  affordable  option  for  you .

I  would  advise  though  booking  directly  on the  hostel’s own website  rather  than  on websites  such as Hostel  World or Booking . com.

One  more thing  about  the  kitchen .

There’s  communal  tables which  makes  it  easy  to  strike  up a  conversation  with  your fellow  travelers  .

If you  don’t  make new friends  or strike  up a conversation  with  at least  ONE  person  during  your time here, given  all the  activities  provided by  the  hostel ,  sorry, that’s  on you, boo.

Some of  those  travelers  might be  going  to  that  same  Red Sox  baseball  game  or Celtics  basketball  game  that  you’re  going  to .

I could  stay  anywhere  in the city  as I have  friends  and  family  here.

But is is my go to  place  when I’m  in town.

Make  the  Hostel  International  Boston  your place if you  come  here for a 30  Plus  Teams  Tour  or not.