Cheap hotels and hostels a (sort-of) grown-up won't hate
Mon Jul 19 2010
Hostelling International, Nantucket, MA
ACBB Hostel, Niagara Falls, Canada
Enjoy mother nature before she gets dumped on by another oil spill—take the morning nine-hour Amtrak ride ($56 each way) to Niagara Falls; you’ll be there by the afternoon. From the train station on the U.S. side, walk about five minutes across the Rainbow Bridge (bring your passport, this is a border crossing) and barrel over to this sleep spot. It’s on the Canadian side, which means it’s quieter, friendlier and a tad cheaper—but not more boring! Rent a bike for $20 at the hostel and hit up any of the 160 commercial vineyards for cheap; try your luck on the white-water rapids with the Whirlpool Jet Boat tours (whirlpooljet.com; $66) or a ride on North America’s cheapest chopper ride on Niagara Helicopters (niagarahelicopters.com; adults $132, couples $252). If you need extra dough for all the extra activities, ask about the hostel’s discount program. “Just ask and we’ll knock a couple bucks off,” says owner Patrick Paul. “We’ll even let you stay for free if you do three hours of work for us.” (hostelniagara.ca). Dorm $22--$55, double $56.
Hostelling International, Nantucket, MA
There once was a man from Nantucket, who said that Long Island can suck it. Fly north to this island off the coast of Cape Cod. Once you’re at the airport—and feeling like a cast member from ’90s sitcom Wings—take an NRTA bus to Surfside beach ($1--$2), where you’ll find HI-Nantucket, your destination for the night. Surf the Net with free Wi-Fi—or actually do some real surfing with one of the Boogie boards the hostel loans to guests. You can also chill out in the common area or in the outside world; this hostel is a stone’s throw from the beach. capecodhostels.org. May 21--Sept 19; $32--$39 per person per night.
Le Jazz St. Denis Hostel, Montreal, Quebec
Take the 11-hour Amtrak ride ($62--$69 each way)—the bus ride is pricier and less scenic. Rendez-vous at the Jazz Hostel in the Latin Quarter and get your jazz hands on this primo location. “We’ve got a billion festivals going on right now,” says manager Hamza Kahn, “including the jazz festival, comedy festival, sci-fi festival and the international Fireworks Competition every Saturday.” Sacre bleu! jazzhostels.com. Dorm $24--$27, double without bathroom $105, double with Jacuzzi $159.
Saranac Lake, Adirondack Park camping, NY
Yosemite? Yellowstone? Please. On the east coast, we have access to the nation’s largest park. Rent a car or take Adirondack Trailways bus to Saranac Lake (trailwaysny.com; round-trip $156). Then hit the highway up to St. Regis Canoe Outfitter’s Saranac River Base, where you can to pick up the cheapest rental camping gear and food (canoeoutfitters.com; $10 for a two-person tent). All that’s left to do is prepare to sing “Kumbaya” at one of the many nearby campsites (if you bussed it up here, you can get a shuttle from St. Regis to your night’s destination). The St. Regis folks recommend nearby Moose Pond (shuttle from St. Regis $50 for two people, campsite free) with a fire pit, or Meadowbrook’s public campgrounds for less primitive accommodations, including showers, picnic tables and bathrooms (shuttle from St. Regis $45; campsite rental $18; reservations required at reserveamerica.com).
Sunrise Oceanfront Cottage, Nassau, Bahamas
Resting right at the beach with three rooms, a fully equipped kitchen and cable TV, this quaint island hostel is as secluded as you can get in touristy Nassau. “You will not find a cheaper place to stay in the Bahamas,” assures owner Martina Lohrum. For any supplies you might need, you’ll be 15 minutes’ walking distance from the closest supermarket, and adjacent to the bus stop for the capital city. sunrise-oceanfront-cottage.hostel.com. $110 per room.
William Penn House, Washington, D.C.
Take a cheap Chinatown bus to D.C. and drop your bags at the William Penn House. Bad news first: This Quaker-run hostel splits the males and females into separate dorms (although if you take a private room, which has two beds, you and your honey can stay together), and you’ll be under religious lockdown. But this means no drunk roomies stumbling in at 4am. The feeling of staying with your girlfriend’s parents is worth it; you won’t find a cheaper place this close to all the national monuments and memorials (other summer highlights: free movies on the Mall and the Shakespeare Free for All). Plus, cleanliness is close to godliness, which means you’ll have fresh sheets at low cost. Amen to that. (williampennhouse.org). Dorms $40--$50, private rooms $50 per person.
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