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

Sipping wine with new friends in Lisbon (16/100)

WIne in Lisbon, PortugalI made a great friend in Lisbon who showed me around and ordered delicious wine in Portuguese.

She was a Belgian girl who grew up in Madagascar and was in Lisbon interviewing at an event planning school.

I also met a girl from Russia on the bus to Lisbon who was a total pansy and, based on her level of perpetual fear, probably shouldn’t have been traveling alone. Even though she was much older, I had to take her under my wing and get her to her hotel and take her around with my new pal.

Win some lose some.

The Belgian girl told me a story about how she made an American friend when she was a teenager, went to visit her in New Jersey and was told upon arrival by the American girl’s parents that their daughter had recently run away.

I told her I would be a better US host.

Grungy hostel, Great View (15/100)

San Sebastian, SpainI left Barcelona the day my good Catalan friend got on a plane to visit her  boyfriend in New Zealand (these are the kinds of sentences you get to write when you and your friends are travelers -it’s pretty great).

Her family dropped me off at the bus station and I was on my way north. Except I missed my bus because I was trying to meet up with a cute Columbian boy who I ate tapas with for eight hours in Granada. Yeah… We didn’t meet up or fall in love, or anything interesting like that, I had to wait a few hours for another bus AND (more…)