Firehouse Lounge and Hostel – Austin, Texas – Review

Firehouse Lounge and Hostel is the first American hostel I’ve ever stayed at. After backpacking through Europe, I wasn’t sure if it would have the same feel here in the states. I was pleasantly surprised that it was able to maintain the very communal vibe while being mildly more upscale than the hostels I stayed at abroad.

Photo from Firehouse's website

Photo from Firehouse’s website

One of Firehouse’s biggest assets is it’s location. It sits on Brazos right between 7th St and the legendary 6th St. The area get’s a little loud on the weekends but it’s tons of fun if that’s your scene. They block off cars from a big chunk of 6th on the weekends and people spill into the streets as they wobble from bar to bar. If you don’t feel like venturing too far, all you need to do is slide away the first floor bookcase. There you’ll find a dimly lit lounge with lots of seating, a stage for live music and a bar.

Just to give you some context to how good of a deal you are getting, rooms at the nice hotel across the street start at $299 a night.

Firehouse Hostel Austin

Photo from Firehouse’s website

As the name suggests, the hostel is a renovated three-story firehouse (don’t get too excited, there isn’t a pole to slide down from the top floor). There are rooms on both the second and third floor but (if you have a choice when booking) the second floor has rooms with nicer, more private bunks. Apparently there are also a few private rooms.

One thing you should know is that it is FREEZING at this hostel. It’s a great break from the Austin weather but I was pretty cold at night. Just remember to pack a sweater and you’ll be alright.

There are separate men’s and women’s bathrooms (with three showers a piece) on each floor. If you’re particular, note the bathroom setup is a little different on the different floors (at least for the ladies – can’t vouch the gents). I personally think the third floor has a better shower setup and the second floor has better bathroom stalls (as in they lock – no locks on the third floor and they don’t really close that well).

Firehouse is clean, modern and has a great staff. Free breakfast (bagels, toast, muffins, fruit, cereal), free WiFi (though it wasn’t working my first day so I can’t speak to how consistent it is). The communal kitchen has all the necessities (microwave, oven, toaster, fridge) and even a waffle iron. There are free bath towels for guests to use and you can rent locks for just $1 a day (+ a $5 deposit).

I’d also like to give them props for having a basket of mini-hand towels in the bathrooms and no paper towels. I always appreciate environmental touches.

The day I arrived the hostel began its new parking program. You can now park in a garage a few blocks away (on Trinity and 7th) for $10/day with the freedom to come and go as you please. It worked out really well for me. Be aware that the parking garage is right next to a church and it seems like there was always a small homeless crowd hanging out around the steps. They never gave me any problems (just tried talking to me) but it’s good to know.

I highly recommend staying here on your next trip to Austin

Travel is my least favorite part of travel

I always forget how much I hate travel days. Lugging bags, catching fights, hopping on a bus in good faith that it’s going the direction you want it to. Travel days are a special kind of personal hell for us directionally challenged folk.

I can figure out a metro system in just about any city but as soon as I’m walking,  driving or busing there is a 90% chance I’m lost 100% of the time. Couple that with sleep deprivation and getting around Austin has been a challenge so far.

I may or may not have yelled every filthy swear word I know (in surprisingly innovate combinations) at the GPS in my rental car as it directed me to make U-turns on the freeway while I was being introduced to the feeder road system.

On the bright side,  Austin is a very cool city and I’m lucky enough to be staying right in the heart of it. I had heard before that it’s the live music capital of the world, but when you walk down Sixth Street and hear a perfectly unintentional symphony of bands playing in bars up and down and as far as you can see, it really sinks in.