Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hostel Review: HI Conway Hostel [Conway, NH]

With the leaves in New England turning the forest into a painted canvas, my parents and I headed upto New Hampshire for a weekend of leaf-peeping. The HI Conway hostel is ideally located near the White Mountains, we headed north in a rented mini-van. We stopped along the way at the Weather Vane restaurant for a couple of lobsters and a lobster roll. Instead of taking the more traditional route of 93N and 112E to Conway along the Kancamagus highway, we drove 95N to Portsmouth, and then took 16N. We passed the Redhook Ale brewery in Portsmouth, but we didn't have a chance to stop. Maybe next time. Concord Coach also offers a bus service to Conway for about $65 r/t from Boston, so there is an option for those with out a car.

We arrived after dark and were first informed that the only rule at the hostel is no shoes in the hostel. The hostel provides a large assortment of cubby-holes to hold your shoes as you walk around in your socks or bare-foot. I found this rule strange, and I more than once looked around the room wondering where my shoes were. However, I got used to it, and chalked it up to an easy way to keep the hostel clean. I had suggested my parents get a room, and I stay in the dorms, but they instead reserved a "family room". I expected the room to include at least one double bed, but instead we had 2 bunk-beds for 4 people. The room included a mini-fridge, but we had to use the bathrooms down the hall. The first night we arrived I cooked a salmon in the well-kept kitchen, and my parents baked an instant lasagna. The common area was full of hostellers, and most were watching one of the Lord of the Rings movies.

That night our room was plenty warm, but it did seem to oscillate between hot and cold a few times. The showers had abundant hot water and good water pressure. I found the hostel a good experience, but I think my parents were disappointed they didn't get a continental breakfast, which was mentioned in their Frommer's guide. The hostel guests were pretty evenly split between respectful foreign travelers and middle-age/older Americans, so I wouldn't call it a party hostel. We were only there Thursday and Friday night, but I suspect it was busier Saturday night. The hostel room cost $48 + $10 (extra person) for the three of us per night. We paid $89 in Woodstock for a normal hotel room with 2 double beds, bathroom, and TV on Saturday.

We had a car, and it wasn't clear how far you could get from the Hostel w/o a car. The local attractions are the outlet malls, the Conway train, and the White Mountains Park, which aren't exactly close to the hostel. I will have to explore the public transportation the next time I go.


Anonymous said...

I took the bus there once - if you put your bike on the bus, it is a bike paradise there, with lots of short or long beautiful rides. You can go to the Kancamngus, North Conway, or Fryeburg, and there's lots of untrafficked side roads besides the big ones. It's great!

Chris said...

Awesome! Biking through New Hampshire sound great.