Asheville to me is a perfect city to stay in a hostel. What's always drawn me to them is that it's somewhat of its own counter-subculture to today's travel and tourism. Not unlike AirBnB, but more grassroots and with a loooooooot less money (AirBnB is a fucking huge company). It was the first time in a while I was traveling with someone other than my girlfriend, and I was pumped to be able to introduce one of my best friends to the hostel world.
Having already stayed once before at the downtown and centrally located Asheville Hostel, I wanted to branch out a little and see if Beer City, and yes...I am wholly convinced there isn't a better city for beer in the god damn world, had any more to offer hostel wise. Sweetpea was another dowtown option, but I settled on Bon Paul & Sharky's located in the West Asheville.
The last few times I've been to Asheville we dabbled a bit in West Asheville, mainly on the eastern side, but this time I was making it a point to see the neighborhood more thoroughly. Bon Paul & Sharky's sat on the western side of the 'hood so it only made sense...grab a couple bikes from hostel, head East, and see most of what it had to offer.
We arrived right around check-in time and were welcome by the hostel manager, Chris. A very nice dude, who oddly enough reminded me of Lance from Portlandia, I wanted to ask him if he'd seen the show so badly but that would've been a dick move telling him he kind of looked like a chick who plays a dude character. Regardless, he gave us a tour and had us read a list of rules before signing in.
A little bummed from the get go, as our reservation through HostelWorld said we'd be getting a room with two twin beds, but instead the room had a single queen bed. Initially I was a little pissed off, but hey, not going to let that ruin the trip. There was enough space for both of us and it's not like we haven't slept in the same bed before. Like I said this is one of my oldest friends, we've crammed into small hotel rooms more times than I remember.
The room was named "Hitchcock", with a modern painting of him outlined on the wall, with his notorious "Birds" imagery painted on some parts as well, supplemented by some Hitchcock themed framed artwork. I'm honestly not too familiar with Alfred Hitchcock, but I think they did a good job pulling the theme of the room together. It felt like a hostel for sure.
We put our shit down and headed out back to grab a couple of the bikes to take down Haywood St. (West Asheville's main strip). I love that almost all hostels have bike rentals. Sure, they're not the nicest and could use some work, but for free you can't beat it. Not to mention you can kind of abuse them if need be and don't have to worry about renting anything or scratching them up.
After returning to the hostel we decided to check things around the building out a little more. A bookshare is on the main floor, similar to the little libraries you might see in your town. Take a book if you want to take one, leave one if you want to leave one. I love the concept of these. Adjacent to this area is the dining room, with the obligatory world map with pinned locations of guests that seemingly every hostel has. Couldn't believe that fucking Kokomo, Indiana of all places had a pin in it. We moved to Kokomo shortly after moving to Indiana from North Carolina when I was younger, and it was the place I grew up.
The kitchen was very clean and well-kept, offering a free breakfast every morning inside the mini fridge. Plenty of bananas and other cold breakfast items, along with toast, tea, and coffee. We often ate around Asheville for a full breakfast, but it was definitely nice to be able to come down and grab something here before really getting your day started.
Bathrooms at Bon Paul were nice, with a total of 3 (I believe all 3 had showers, I know at least 2 did). Typical hostel bathrooms without a lot of frills, just what you'd expect, and part of the reason why hostels are so great, they pass all the bullshit unecessary extras on to you in the price it costs to stay.
Outside, a fucking beautiful mural was painted along the driveway wall, with another equally as impressive West Asheville piece on the western side of the buliding. This is another reason why I dig hostels, straight community, regardless of where you're coming from.
A back deck provides some good outdoor drinking scenery, as does the front porch. Although probably my biggest complaint of the entire trip was of people coming in and out of these doors late at night. For whatever reason, people must have never been tought how to shut a door properly. It would literally slam shut so loud and shake the hostel (at least our room, which was upstairs and on the opposite side of the front door). Eventually at like 1AM I had to go down and tell them to shut the door like a proper adult, and it stopped.
Quiet hours weren't the quietest either. We were out late, until about midnight each night, but even after settling down at about 12:30 or 1 in the morning, people were still up and could be heard with our windows open (was damn hot in our room, not sure if because of the weird weather or what). The noise of other people didn't bug us too bad, and I was on a mix of drunkeness and a kava buzz on night two so you couldn't tell me shit anyways, but quiet hours were one of the golden rules we were forced to read before signing in, 10Am - 10PM. Again people, just have some common sense and be respecful when it's fucking late.
I was unaware that Bon Paul & Sharky's had a guest house, too. Would love to rent that next time I'm in Asheville. Located right out back, it looked awesome and the perfect size to accomodate 3 or 4 people for a trip. Parking out back was slim, but Chris let us know that the adjacent business to the East allowed for some spots to be had so it wasn't a big deal at all.
Bon Paul & Sharky's really was an excellent hostel to stay at, sure there were some reservation hang ups and fuckboys slamming the door, but the location is supreme, and the staff, cleanliness, and overall feel and look of the place were just as good as any hostel I've stayed at. Even if you don't decide to stay here, make sure you at least check out the West Asheville neighborhood if you're in the area.