What is a hostel?
We welcome many first-time hostellers and so aren’t surprised when this question pops up. Perhaps you’ve made a reservation because this is the cheapest lodging in the region, but you aren’t quite sure what to expect. Where do I sleep, you may ask. Where do I eat? Do I get to shower in private, or will I be sharing my shampoo with a family from France?
Never fear, for the answers are here. Yet this first answer is the most difficult to define, because a hostel is many things. It’s inexpensive lodging with a complete self-service kitchen, saving you the expense of eating out. It’s a place to learn about the local area and meet travellers from all over the world (in any given month, we welcome people from Ireland, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Denmark, Australia, Poland, South Africa, Scotland, the United States and everywhere in between).
A hostel has usually had many incarnations. Redwood Hostel used to be the home of the De Martin family, who raised sheep and goats on this land more than one hundred years ago. Other hostels used to be mansions, lighthouses, military outposts, farmhouses and even castles.
Fun fact: there are roughly 110 hostels in the United States and 4,000 hostels in 60 countries worldwide. We are members of the largest organization of hostels, Hostelling International. To be precise, we belong to the Golden Gate Council of Hostelling International-USA.
Coming and Going
When can I check in?
From 4 – 10 p.m.
When must I check out?
By 11 a.m. on your final day.
Does the hostel close during the day?
Not anymore! Beginning June 1, 2007, registered guests have 24-hour access to the hostel.
Can I check-in early?
If you’re with a group of 10 or more people, then you can rent the hostel for day-use at the rate of $100 for a full day (11 a.m.-4 p.m.) or $60 for a half day (1:30 p.m.-4 p.m.). Keep in mind, however, the hostel will also be open to registered guests during that time.
Another way to arrive early is by bicycle or bus. We understand that folks traveling by bike or on public transportation have less control over the time they arrive at the hostel. Please call to make arrangements for an early bike/bus check-in.
Where do I sleep?
In a shared or private room. We have four shared rooms: Hupa, Wiyot and Chalula (6 beds each) or Yurok (8 beds). There are two private rooms: Karuk has one queen bed, while Tolowa comes with a queen bed on the bottom and a single bunk bed on top, ideal for families with young children or up to three adults. We can also convert a shared room into a private room for your group, if you pay a small surcharge.
Where do I eat?
In our kitchen. It features 2 new stoves and ovens, a microwave, 2 toasters, pots, pans, utensils, cutting boards, plates, bowls, cups, glasses, can openers, graters, peelers, Tupperware, kitchen towels, cutting knives, etc. Not to mention ample spices, cooking oil, salt, pepper, and often an orange or tub of butter left behind by another traveller.
In short, our kitchen has everything but the groceries. Stock up in Crescent City if you’re coming from the north (Safeway, Harvest Natural Foods, Ray’s Supermarket, Rainbow Grocery Outlet, Shop Smart) or in Klamath if you’re coming from the south (Klamath Market, Woodland Villa).
But what if I’m hungry and don’t feel like driving?
Glad you asked. While we support local businesses and are glad to see hostellers buying jugs of milk at the Klamath Market, we also have some goodies available at Snack-quoia Sempervirens, our little store.
Is there a bathroom in my room?
None of our rooms have private bathrooms; however, the bathrooms and showers are just a few steps down the hallway.
Do I get to shower in private, or will I be sharing my shampoo with a family from France?
You get to shower in private. We have three showers, each with a lock for privacy.
Do you have Internet, cell phone reception, and TV?
No, no and no. Because the hostel is situated in a remote area on the North Coast, there isn’t access to reliable Internet, cell phone signals and cable TV. During the rainy season we’ll bring out a DVD/VCR player and show some
movies and documentaries, but that’s about the extent of high technology in these parts. We do have a payphone and have phone cards for sale.
If you have your own laptop, there are several places in Crescent City that have free Wi-Fi, including a coffee shop (The Coffee Corner), a diner (Glen’s), a deli (Chomperz), and breakfast/lunch restaurant (Good Harvest Cafe). If you don’t have your own computer, the Coffee Corner and the county library are your two choices for finding a computer or kiosk.
Is the hostel clean?
Maybe you aren’t asking this question, but you’re probably thinking it. Yes, the hostel is immaculate! During our most recent inspection by Hostelling International, in February 2007, we scored 103.3% overall. We’re one of the highest-scoring hostels in the country. And as part of the hostelling experience, we gladly say “yes” whenever a hosteller asks if they can help out with a chore.
This is definitely not a party zone. In fact, alcohol isn’t allowed and smoking is relegated to the parking lot below. HI-Redwood Hostel is a quiet, safe place to get away from everything (everything except the beach, forest and lagoon, that is.)
Can I do laundry at the hostel?
Sure. We have a washer and dryer, and sell laundry soap at the office. Please limit laundering to the evening hours of 4-10 p.m. (so last load should be started by 8:30pm). The machines are located next to a sleeping room, and we don’t want anyone to have to fall asleep to the sounds of your jeans going through the spin cycle.
Does the hostel recycle?
We recycle plastic, glass, tin cans, aluminum cans, paper, cardboard, batteries, and food waste (we practice vermiculture, or worm-composting). The bins are located under the dining room side of the countertop and under the sinks. Please thoroughly rinse and flatten these items or they will mold, smell and attract bears when placed outside for pick-up.
Did you just say you practice worm composting?
Yep. Well, technically I didn’t say it, I wrote it. (Pardon us, the current managers were both English majors). It’s a great way to turn leftover food into high-quality soil that gardeners like to call “Black Gold.” To learn more about vermiculture, visit worms.com. We currently have 4 pounds of the little guys living in worm bins, which are kept inside a locked shed at the top of the hill, so as not to attract bears.
Should I be afraid of the bears?
Black bears do live in this region, but they are much more afraid of you than you are of them. Before embarking on a hike from the hostel, read the posted notices that offer tips for avoiding bears and mountain lions (and what to do in the event of an encounter). You can also print bear tips from the Internet.
Last Fall, one particularly pesky bear raided the hostel´s Dumpster a few times. He managed to perform a few belly flops on the lid, causing a complete cave-in. The kindly folks from the National Park Service ordered us a brand new, bear-proof Dumpster, and the bear retreated to the woods. If more ursine neighbors should happen to visit the hostel, we will make sure everyone is well aware and take precautions.
How do you heat the hostel?
We have a pellet wood stove in the common room that keeps the hostel toasty. For additional heat, each sleeping room has an electric heater which is quiet, efficient and safe.
Do I have to be young to stay at a hostel?
Not anymore. The first official hostel, back in 1909, was begun by German schoolteachers looking for an inexpensive place for the kids to stay on backcountry trips. Hostels were geared towards young travellers in the early decades, but today we welcome everyone and there is no age limit.
When you say everyone, does that include families? I have a young child.
This is a common concern for parents. The hostel is ideal for families–it’s clean, quiet and safe. Just ask us. Our 21-month-old son likes to crawl up and down the stairs and “reorganize” the pots & pans cabinet every morning. And all the while, he’s surely safe.
Is Redwood Hostel accessible to disabled travellers?
Certainly! The hostel has ramps, first-floor sleeping rooms, and an ADA-approved bathroom and shower with a fold-out bench and adapted shower nozzle. Please let us know when you are coming, and we’ll ensure your needs are met.
Are pets allowed?
Sorry, but only service animals are allowed at the hostel. Please call to make arrangements.
What’s the weather like?
Expect a little of everything. The wet season runs from November through April, more or less, and it’s cool and sunny the rest of the year. Afternoons get windy, as we’re near the ocean, and summer mornings are foggy. Want to be prepared? Find the weather outlook here.
How far are you from the ocean?
Three minutes. (And that’s walking–not driving).
What if I forget something?
We’ll keep it in our Lost & Found for one month. Please call and we will send it to you, although we may ask you to cover shipping costs. After a month, we need to clear out the Lost & Found, and unclaimed items are donated to charity.
Is the hostel privately owned?
No. HI-Redwood Hostel is one of nine hostels in northern California operated by the Golden Gate Council, which is a non-profit, membership organization affiliated with Hostelling International. Our mission is “to help all, especially the young, gain a greater understanding of the world and its people through hostelling.” And though Hostelling International runs the hostel, the building and land are part of Redwood National and State Parks.