I hear crickets chirping when I brush my teeth. It was just past 10pm – quiet time – and most of my roommates in the female dorm were already asleep. I choose the bottom bunk – I always do when I can – which has fresh sheets, towels, fleece blankets and pillowcases folded under my feet. After making my bed, I set my alarm for 8am and plugged my phone into the socket next to my bed. A humming fan and rummaging roommates put me to sleep – a white-noise lullaby I’m more or less familiar with.
This is one night out of a total of 200 nights I have stayed in a hostel. They hold a rather special place in my heart — a lifesaver for long trips on a low budget and a place to meet like-minded travelers. A cup of coffee, some camaraderie and a place to bump.
Ever since I moved to Martha’s Vineyard, I’ve wondered what the Edgartown-West Tisbury motel looks like. I can’t remember how many times I’ve driven past it – the weathered shingle building with its front lawn is tucked away from the main road facing the dense forest. It always catches my eye. One evening in late August, I finally decided to watch it.
I’m a resident here, but for a night, I want to stay in a dorm to feel like always — like an adventure. I left my car at home, hopped on a bike, and crossed three streets before arriving.
A few cars parked at the end of the long road. I set up my bike on a rack next to dozens of other bikes. Inside, I met staff member Chris Boeur at the front desk. He gave me the door code to my room and showed me around.
There are 68 beds spread out in the men’s and women’s dormitory upstairs, the women’s dormitory downstairs, and a number of private and semi-private rooms. On an island that is always overrun with tourists and has a limited number of accommodations, Martha’s Vineyard, a subsidiary of Hostel International USA’s parent group, offers travelers reliable, affordable accommodation. last minute mid-May to mid-October. Starting at $38 a night, you can’t find a better deal than that. And that’s what the hostel is all about.
Dormitory dates back to 1909 when Richard Schirrmann, a German teacher, realized the need for an overnight shelter for students who wanted to explore the German countryside during summer vacation. He opened the world’s first dormitory inside a school in Altena, Germany. The concept spread across the country, spreading throughout Europe and eventually reaching the US in the early 1930s. Hostels continue to make global travel accessible, affordable, and harmonious. copper. In a way, the dorm gives us the world.
There were only about 19 other guests during my stay. It was the Monday after the Ag Fair weekend, when things started to slow down. Chris told me that the dorms were running at full capacity last week, and the real holiday season begins for them when the 4th of July arrives. From now until closing, it will be full of tourists here and there. We pass by a wall of information—everything from weekly events listings to Island facts to maps, bike paths, and bus schedules.
Martha’s Vineyard Hostel was founded in 1955 by Islanders Lillian and Daniel Manter. It’s a the the first purpose-built dormitory in the country — meaning the building was built specifically for dormitories. The building has 300 beds – 50 cents per person per night and 40 cents for those under the age of 21. Hostel ownership and management have changed over the years, and in 1984, American Youth Hostels Inc. purchased the building. It is currently run by Hosteling International. In 1998, the hostel was officially dedicated to founder Lillian Manter and is also known as the Lillian Manter Memorial Inn.
Chris showed me a wall with a blue locker for guests to keep their personal belongings. At the end of the hallway, there is a large, self-catering kitchen with multiple stovetops, sink, refrigerator, microwave, tableware and seating area. Next, the communal space, is strewn with couches, tables, books, games, and the latest addition of the season – air conditioning. Everything has a rural, rustic feel like summer camp; clean and simple, but still has everything you need. Dormitory manager John Watson likened the concept of Hostel International to McDonald’s.
“No matter where you are in the world, you can find us and you always know what you are going to get,” he said. There are more than 4,000 Hostel International hotels around the world. In Massachusetts, there are locations in Eastham, Truro, Hyannis, Nantucket and West Tisbury.
A woman from Montreal sat across from me in the common room. A man from the Netherlands sat to my left. Neither of them had visited the Island before. The woman will be here for a week; man for four days. They both shrugged when I asked what was on the notebook. “There are no plans,” the man said.
Another man from Montreal joined us. He has been visiting the Island for the past six summers, but this is his first time in a hostel. “It’s a pretty nice place.” he say. “It doesn’t cost a lot of money, which is great for me.” Bang Beach and jumping off the Big Bridge are part of his two-day schedule. Other guests around us came from Germany, Spain and Romania.
John told me that this is his first season in Martha’s Vineyard, but his 15th season in the dorm world. John spent many years in the West and decided to give this East Coast Island a try. “I said, Sign me up,” he said. “It was mid-April. May 1st is my first day.”
John says the average age at hostels typically ranges from 25 to 27, but here on the Island it’s more like 55 to 60. “The age demographics are a little bit different,” he says. “But I love it. I like when people socialize and coexist, regardless of their age.”
The hostel hosts a number of ice-breaking activities during the summer: outdoor socializing by the campfire, breakfast quizzes, and screenings of the movie “Jaws” in the common room. “Some people come to mingle,” says John. “Some don’t.”
Although the location is considered rural, there is a bus stop right in front, taking guests to every corner of the Island. Amber Chinander, another employee at the hostel, said: “That bus stop is everything. “The bike paths around here are amazing. I really dig this place a lot.
When the alarm clock went off the next morning, I joined a small group of others preparing breakfast in the kitchen. The hostel offers free coffee, toasted whole grain bread and a mix of jam and butter from 7 to 10 am. I met Veronica Fernandez. She is making a traditional Chilean breakfast on the stove. “I live in Maryland but I’m from Chile,” she said. “This is my mother’s recipe. Onions, garlic, tomatoes, eggs and I added red pepper. Veronica said she has spent the past four days cycling around the Island. I ask for the highlights. “Flat roads,” she laughed. Veronica also commented on the clean and eco-conscious community. “People seem very concerned about the environment,” she said. “I work for DEP [Department of Environmental Protection]maybe that’s why i noticed.
I met a group of friends from Rhode Island. They prepared to plant a bus flag, beach hats and boogie boards in hand. Stephanie Lyons said: “We’re leaving today, but let’s try to add another beach day. Diana Cristea, a frequent visitor from Romania, is also on her way out. “I will spend a week here and a week in Nantucket,” she said. A trip to Gay Head, Chappy and cycling is on her agenda.
By 10 am, the entire dormitory was almost completely cleaned.
“What we provide is a safe place for you to lay your head, shower and prepare your own meals,” says John. “It’s about the money it’s up. You have to be an independent traveler. Check out is at 10am, so I throw my sheets and towels in the basket, pack up, grab my bike and hit the road. .
They say the hostel is one step higher than the campground and one step lower than the hotel. I say they are in a league of their own.