Great news for cultural travelers: HI New Orleans Hostel just opened in July on Canal Street, right across the street from the French Quarter. It’s a brand-spanking new facility in a historic building that dates to 1896.
This welcoming property (after all, their name is “HI” for short) is full of vibrant colors, hip furniture and murals by talented local artists. It’s also filled with fascinating people of all ages from all over the world. Yes, you read that right. All ages. If you think hostels are just for college kids who don’t require more than a sleeping bag and a place to brush their teeth, you’d be dead wrong.
Gone are the days when the word “youth” always preceded the word “hostel.” Today’s hostels, at least the 50 managed or affiliated with HI USA, are for people of all ages and backgrounds looking to embrace new cultures and meet like-minded travelers. Like the artwork on the wall says, “HI USA is founded on an enduring belief in the power of travel to foster a deeper understanding of people, places and cultures for a more tolerant world.”
Whether you opt to stay in a private room or in a dorm-like setting with others, you’ll find the amenities, customer service, quality standards, security features and room rates amazing. During the summer, you can stay for as low as $20 a night. Why so low? Because HI USA is a non-profit. They don’t exist to make money, but to make traveling easier. They even offer scholarships to encourage travel.
Mike Foyder, General Manager of HI New Orleans Hostel, explained that the popularity of hostels took off in Europe after World War II where travel was encouraged as a way to help people from different countries heal and embrace each other’s cultures. The theory was “you can’t hate what you know.” What motivated hostel owners back then inspires those who manage hostels today.
When we asked Mike “why open a hostel in New Orleans?” his response was, “Why wouldn’t you? This is a hugely important cultural mecca. The music, the food…it’s very special. People want to discover New Orleans and we want to help.”
So, yes, it is about encouraging travel but saving money is still a huge incentive for hostel guests. If you don’t want to grab a Blackened Redfish Taco or Boudin Flautas in the soon-to-be-opened TaCreole restaurant, you can bring your own food and cook in the spacious community kitchen. HI USA also provides free continental breakfast daily with generous offerings. And parking is available nearby for just $10 per night to Hi guests. Plus, a free or low-cost French Quarter walking tour, haunted history tour or pub crawl departs the HI New Orleans Hostel lobby daily. These tours and other activities are led by volunteers, passionate about sharing their knowledge and love of New Orleans with guests.
The rooms at HI New Orleans Hostel are each named after a New Orleans neighborhood. Each dorm-style room features built-in bunk beds with comfortable, brand-new memory foam mattresses and all-white bedding–all immaculately kept. Each bed in the dorm-style rooms comes with a lamp, a charging port for your phone and a locker with another charging port for your laptop. There are plenty of single occupancy bathrooms across the hall from each room (no, you won’t be showering with anybody or stand outside in a line).
Private rooms are available, too. Some feature queen-sized beds and others sleep four with a queen-sized bed and a bunk bed. Like your typical hotel room, you’ll have your own bathroom and flat-screen TV. All room styles are also available with special features for disabled travelers.
Seeing the city from HI New Orleans Hostel is easy as well. It’s located on the Canal Streetcar Line which connects to streetcars that go up mansion-lined St. Charles Avenue, to the Superdome, to the Treme and the Faubourg Marigny. You can also rent a Blue Bike nearby (or bring your own).
Want to spend less on a hotel and more at world-famous New Orleans restaurants? Stay at HI New Orleans Hostel. Having a college reunion in New Orleans? Stay here with a bunch of your old roomies! Having your bachelor or bachelorette party in the city? Stay together here! Want to book a room that doesn’t cost a fortune right on the Mardi Gras parade route? This is the one.
Say hello to HI, a 2019 Downtown NOLA Award Honoree. Read more.