2 1/2 years ago, we posted our Frequently Asked Questions here on the blog. Well, it’s time for an update. Much has changed. Plus, few people are probably scrolling through the 50+ postings (at 5 per page) to get to our FAQ of August 2006. So let’s update.
What is a hostel? (generally phrased as “I’ve never stayed in a hostel—how does it work?”)
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 DeMartin 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. They can accommodate 6 people (often in someone’s home) or 600 (often in large buildings in big cities) or anywhere in between.
Fun fact: 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. There are roughly 75 HI hostels in the United States and over 4,000 worldwide.
Can you tell me more about your hostel?
We’re a smaller hostel, with space for 28 people, so staying here is kind of like staying at someone’s house. It is one building with a living room, kitchen and dining room, bathrooms, and 5 bedrooms. The living room has comfy couches, a fireplace, books and games and instruments. The kitchen has all the pots, pans, and plates you’ll need, as well as stoves, fridges, toaster, microwave, coffee maker—even spices. If you bring the food, you can cook all you like. We’re found in Redwood National Park, just across the street from the Pacific Ocean, so our two outside decks look out on the water (and 4 of our 5 rooms have an ocean view).
What is the #1 hostel in the world?
Okay, we admit this isn’t asked frequently, but we thought we’d brag anyway. Last year, hihostels.com named us #1 in the world for customer satisfaction among HI hostels. Okay—we actually tied with a hostel in Osaka, Japan. But there are over 4000 hostels in the Hostelling International network, so we’re pretty proud of our standing (proud enough, in fact, to make up a frequently asked question about it).
Coming and Going
When can I check in?
Anytime between 4pm and 10pm.
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. Though please note: this doesn’t mean you can be here for 24 hours (we’ve had to clarify for people who check in at 6pm and are only staying one night—you still have to leave by 11am).
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.
Do you have parking?
Yes, plenty of free parking.
How can I reserve?
Best is to pick up the phone and call 707-482-8265 during our office hours of 8-11am or 4-10pm Pacific. That way we can answer any questions you may have, and make sure you get what you need. You can also book online 24 hours a day here. Please note, however, that only dorm beds can be booked online. If you require a private room, we ask you to give us a call.
I thought I paid already? (generally asked at check in, when we ask for payment for your stay)
While we do take your credit card at the time you reserve, we don’t charge you until you show up. At that point, you can pay with cash, traveler’s checks, or credit card. If you pay with credit card, we ask you to hand it over for us to swipe; that is we do not “just put it on the card” that we have on file (for one thing, it takes longer to enter the 20+ numbers than to simply swipe, but it also insures both that you are the card owner and that we don’t make a mistake in entering all those numbers).
Where do I sleep?
In a shared or private room. We have three shared rooms: Wiyot and Chilula (6 beds each) or Yurok (10 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, depending on the season and availability.
What if people snore?
On our office door, we offer the “Middle-of-the-Night Emergency Earplug Supply.” Just come on down and grab a pair. But please note: if you sound like an airplane landing when you sleep, hostels might not be the best option for you. We’d be happy to recommend a nearby motel for you.
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, Shop Smart, or Grocery Outlet) or in Klamath if you’re coming from the south (Woodland Villa, 2.5 miles south of the hostel). Also, Arcata and Eureka (1-1.5 hours south of the hostel) have several great co-op and/or natural food markets.
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 Woodland Villa, we also have some goodies available at Snack-quoia Sempervirens, the little store found in our office (generally soups, pasta, drinks, instant oatmeal, chocolate bars).
And let’s not forget the restaurants. Here in Klamath, there are a half dozen or so—though some of these are seasonal—while Crescent City has a wide selection of options. We keep a binder handy with just about all of the local restaurant menus, so you can peruse items and prices before heading out. The options include seafood, burgers, pizza, Chinese, Italian, Thai/Vietnamese, American, and more.
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. We do bring out a DVD/VCR player to show a documentary on Friday nights (generally travel- or environment-related), but other times, we keep it hidden so people can chat, play games, or read peacefully. We do, however, have a payphone.
If you have your own laptop, there are several places up in Crescent City (12-13 miles north) that have free Wi-Fi, including coffee shops (The Coffee Corner, Alissa’s), a deli (Chomperz), and a 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. Closer to us, the Woodland Villa (2.5 miles south) and the Pem-Mey gas station (7 miles south) have Wi-Fi.
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 March 2009, we scored 103% overall. That makes us one of the highest-scoring hostels in the country (if not the highest). 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 near 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, and batteries. 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.
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.
Two years ago, 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?
No. 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 (make that 48-months now) likes to crawl up and down the stairs and “reorganize” the pots & pans cabinet every morning. And all the while, he’s surely safe. But please note: for the comfort of all guests, we require that children be at least 4 or 5 to stay in a shared dorm with other travelers (for those under 4, please inquire of our private room availability).
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’s your favorite trail?
One of us would say Flint Ridge section of the Coastal Trail. Another of us would say Damnation Creek Trail. (How many of us are there? Well—that hasn’t been asked frequently. Check back to see if people start asking.)
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’ll likely ask you to cover shipping costs. After a month, we need to clear out the Lost & Found, and unclaimed items are donated to thrift stores.
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.
So what is there to do around there?
We’ve already created a pretty decent list of our favorite things to do around here. Visit our Things to Do page for the list, as well as a collection of upcoming events:
Anything else I should know?
To see pictures of the hostel and nearby area, and to learn more about the hostel and its history, visit our official webpage.