While doing research for my Charleston directory, Doin’ the Charleston, I discovered an interesting looking establishment with a catchy name: Not So Hostel on Spring Street in the historic district. I was intriqued, and when I needed to go to Charleston to pick up copies of my book Haunted Marietta from the History Press, I booked space there for my husband and myself. We could have stayed in a dorm-style room with four bunk beds for $21 a night each, but since we have not stayed in a hostel before, I decided to spend a little extra and get a private room for $60 a night, breakfast included.
As advertised, the hostel is in the historic district and very conveniently located, but it is not in the trendy part of the district, and many of the buildings are not in great shape. The population here seems to be mainly college students and low-income families. i love old houses and I appreciated the authentic slice of Charleston life, but I don’t think I would walk here after dark.
The hostel actually incoporates three historic Charleston houses, a bit ramshackle but comfortable. We stayed in the main house, where the office/sittng area and breakfast areas are located.
You won’t stay in luxury here. It’s a hostel, not a hotel. But our tiny private room was quite adequate and had a very comfortable bed and, important for my husband, WiFi. All the beds at Not So Hostel are steel framed with excellent mattresses so no one is kept awake by the noise of their fellow sleepers. We were up a small flight of stairs, and to go to the bathroom, we had to go downstairs to share one of two clean, functional bath/showers on the first floor. We never had to wait, but I imagine during the busy season you might have to take your turn.
There was a huge porch on the ground level and another on our level which we were free to use as we pleased. The porches had rocking chairs, hammocks, and tables, and were wonderful for sitting in the evening and talking to fellow guests.
The sitting area/office has two computers which guests are free to use, comfortable leather sofas, and books and movies on VHS and DVD which are free to borrow. There are also two fully stocked kitchens which guests may use, one where breakfast is served and one for preparing your own meals if you like.
Breakfast on Saturday consisted of delicious Einstein bagels, organic pumpkin spread, organic peanut butter and almond butter, the very popular Nutella, and excellent free-trade coffee. Everything in the hostel is done with a care for the environment, from the food to the soap and dish detergent provided.
To stay at the hostel means making your own bed, sharing bathrooms, no TV, and a certain lack of privacy, but it also means meeting interesting people, staying near the historic attractions, free parking, and an authentic slice of Charleston for very little money.
We understand that the hostel offers camping on the grounds for only either $10 or $11 a night , with full house priveleges, and we plan to go back and do that in the late spring!
Note: While the hostel seems, based on this experience, to attract mostly people in their 20’s and early 30’s, there were some people there who were a bit older, and we more senior travelers did not feel particularly out of place.