During our Miami escape in January, Ken and I stayed at a hostel just a block from the beach and Lummus Park. We'd never stayed at a hostel before but our budget couldn't accommodate a Miami hotel near the beach, so we figured we'd give a hostel a try.
After a Google search of Miami hostels, I came across several hostels that sounded interesting. They were all about the same price, but the Posh hostel seemed to have the best location and looked very modern and clean. The reviews were great and there was a rooftop pool, so I went ahead and booked it. When I told Ken that we'd be sharing showers and sleeping quarters with other guys and gals for $50 bucks each a night ... he wasn't too sure. $100 bucks a night for us to stay in a hostel? Welcome to Miami, baby!
Reading about the unisex bunk beds didn't bother me since Ken would be nearby, but I was concerned about the fact that the hostel had unisex bathrooms and showers .. did the showers have locks? What if someone just walked right in? It didn't help that I once had a male janitor walk in on me when showering at the gym. I screamed, he ran, and then I was ticked. I yelled, "You heard the water running! You knew somebody was in here"! Anyway, I told Ken that he may have to hang out in the bathroom while I took my shower since I wasn't sure if the showers had locks or not.
As we walked towards the hostel, I hoped that our experience wouldn't be too bad and that Ken wouldn't wonder what the heck I'd gotten us into. Would we feel safe? Would the place be as clean as it looked in the pictures? Would we be able to sleep at night, or would the room be filled with people snoring and worse ... "barking spiders"?!
I had heard that the hostel was located next to the Whitelaw Hotel, so when I saw the hotel I walked inside to ask where the hostel was located. The lady walked us down an alley (patio sounds better) next to the hotel and through a door with an elevator. We went to the second floor and found the hostel. Check-in was in the kitchen/living area, which looked just like the pictures ... modern and clean.
The Whitelaw Hotel ... love the art deco buildings!
The "patio" ...
The entrance (door under the "Exit" sign) into the hostel and living area ... the rooftop pool was next to the elevator, right across from the front door. It was nice, but the weather was too cold for us to try it out. Right across from the breakfast bar was a sectional and flat-screen television for lounging.
We arrived before check-in time, but we were able to store our bags so we could immediately find some lunch. Before we left, we went downstairs to check out our bunk beds. We'd originally been assigned two bottom beds, across from each other. However, I asked if these beds were in the "30 bed" room or the "8 bed" room and was told the "30 bed" room. Hmmm ... could we have beds in the "8 bed" room? He said we could, but we'd have a bottom and top bed. I thought this would be better than a big ole room full of beds, so we made the switch. While that turned out to be fine, we later wished that we'd taken the two lower bunks in the big room. When going downstairs, we had to go through the big room and it wasn't so bad. If we'd gotten two lower beds, we could have talked with each other and Ken wouldn't have had to sleep up top. Oh well, no big deal. However, I would recommend requesting beds AWAY from the stairs. Who wants to be right there by the entry way?!
Stairs to lower sleeping area ...
We walked past all the bunks, into the bathroom area, and then to the left where our room of 8 bunks was located. The bathrooms also looked just like the pictures, always very clean! See the bathroom stalls? Across from that was the showers .. which had frosted glass doors, but no locks!
This was our little corner of the room. Ken and I had the bunks on the left. At some point, the other two bunks became occupied by two guys. They checked in at different times, so they didn't know each other ... or us. I barely saw them, but I did figure out that the guy on the top spoke French and was in town for the weekend's upcoming marathon. Before we checked out, several more people arrived for the marathon.
So, what did we think of our first hostel experience? It was pretty good! While we didn't hang around the hostel long enough to make new friends, we did find it interesting to see so many people of different ages and from different countries. Ken and I figured we'd be the oldest folks around, but as it turned out there were folks from the age of 20-something to 70-something. There were males and females that arrived alone, and there were also couples ... all of various ages. We saw one couple that appeared to be in their 70's, and we talked to a girl that looked to be in her early 30's that was alone and from Spain. We overheard two middle-aged women say they were from Africa, and I talked to two young girls that had just arrived from Austria. They were staying a few days and then driving to Disney World. As the marathon drew closer, more and more runners arrived. Let me tell ya ... the beds were always full.
As far as the unisex bathrooms and no locks on the showers ... surprisingly it didn't bother me! The hostel had a very safe feeling to it, and I didn't see one person that seemed shady. Well, there were two guys from Colombia that looked exactly what you'd think drug dealers would look like but they weren't around much. I didn't make Ken guard the shower, as our room was nearby and the staff was always around .. cleaning and making their presence known.
The hostel had quite a few rules that we had to agree to or else get kicked out. This probably helps keep things in order. The rules were things such as no guests, nobody in your bed, no sex (yeah, I guess ya have to tell some people it's not acceptable in public places), and no drugs. They had in parenthesis ... "Yes, this includes marijuana"! So, while these rules may seem silly it keeps the place from turning into an "Animal House". One rule was "lights out" at 11 pm. While you could come and go as you pleased, you had to be quiet and find your bed in the dark if it was after 11:00. We kept busy during the day, so this wasn't a problem for us. The folks that did come in later were very conscientious and did their best to keep quiet and nobody snored ... and no "barking spiders" either! Can you believe that?! I'm a very light sleeper so I was concerned about getting a good night's sleep. It turned out not be a problem.
One thing that did bother me was that the cleaning lady came in at 10:30 one night to sweep the floors. It was the second night that we were there, and we'd just gotten to sleep when the lights went on. At first I didn't get upset because it wasn't 11:00 yet, but the cleaning lady?! Luckily we never saw her at night again.
Each morning a free continental breakfast was offered in the kitchen ... basically coffee, juice, toast and cereal. We took advantage of this every morning. A refrigerator, stove and oven were also available for use, but I wasn't cooking on vacation! Another great perk that we were around for one night was free drinks at the Whitelaw hotel's bar every night from 7-8. With mixed drinks starting at $8 bucks in Miami, this was a pretty good deal. We could choose any drink made with gin, rum, tequila or vodka ... as much as we wanted till 8:00. Ken had a few tequila drinks, but I only had one ... this was the day we had started drinking at lunch because it rained all day. I just couldn't handle anymore. Below is the bar at the Whitelaw ... it was pretty full during free "happy hour".
Now that we've experienced a hostel, I'd try it again somewhere else and I'd definitely recommend this hostel if you're looking for a place in Miami Beach. I never felt creeped out, it was very modern & clean, and one more perk ... free shuttle to and from the airport! We didn't use the shuttle to the hostel because we'd taken the really cheap public bus that runs from the airport. However, we did take the shuttle to the airport, which made things really easy. Located one block from the beach, free shuttle, free drinks every night and free breakfast every morning ... not bad at all!
Hasta luego ... until then. Mid-Life Cruising!