My Unexpected Stay at Asheville’s Sweet Peas Hostel

A week before I was set to leave for last weekend’s Type A Parent Conference, I called to check on a minor detail in my room reservation at the conference hotel. To my surprise – especially since I was looking at an active, confirmed reservation on the computer as I spoke with the front desk – my reservation had been cancelled. I was told the room block had sold out, and I quickly needed to make alternate plans. Fortunately, my friend Bernice recommended a nearby hostel in downtown Asheville (North Carolina). Although “hostel” does not necessarily usher in associations to “30-something mom of 5,” I decided to give it a shot.

I discovered that theĀ Sweet Peas Hostel in downtown Asheville is clean, has a truly congenial staff, and is a pretty comfortable place to stay.

Because neither of their 2 private rooms were available for the duration of my stay, I opted instead for a “Private Pod.” The hostel provides clean linens when you check in and the key to a tall, locked cabinet to keep your things secure alongside your pod. The pod itself has a fairly comfortable bed, two shelves, a light, a long shelf running the length of the bed, and privacy curtains.

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“Private” is relative, since even though you can close your curtains, you’re still subject to every bit of noise around – and below – the hostel. Still, I felt quite cozy in my pod with the curtains closed, and loved having everything at my fingertips with the shelves (and two outlets, which were perfect!).

The hostel has free, fast wi-fi, a fully equipped kitchen, a laundry room, a huge living area with big-screen tv, separate bathrooms for men and women, and a handful of showers with doors and small, private dressing areas.

My {admittedly poor} panorama of the hostel's open areas. Off to the right behind the partition wall are the open bunk areas, the the left behind the walls are the rooms of private pods. Even though I took this picture at 9:30am, most of the curtains were still drawn and the lights were off - people sleep in late at Sweet Peas!

During the three nights I stayed there, I had anywhere from 8-15 fellow hostel-mates. Men and women sleep alongside each other in the bunk areas and private pods, which probably freaked my husband out when I told him. Staff does live on-site, though, and at absolutely no time did I feel unsafe. In fact, it was fun meeting a wide variety of other travelers, most of them much younger than me, and hearing different stories about where they were from and why they were visiting Asheville.

I appreciated that there was no drinking, smoking, or drug use allowed in the hostel, and that coded key cards were required for entry. People seemed to respect the need to be mature and responsible, and it added to an overall atmosphere of comfort.

A *much* better picture of the kitchen area, taken by "koocobr" on Flickr. (click on photo to be taken to user's photo stream) My bunk when i stayed was *just* around the wall from the blue recycle can on the left side of the picture.

Downstairs from the hostel is a popular local bar called the Lab (Lexington Ave. Brewery), which is probably why the hostel has a basket of free earplugs available for guests. It’s true that each night I was there – Wed, Thurs, Fri – it was pretty loud until about 2am. Friday was, of course, the worst, and at one point I just started laughing about how loud it really was. But the noise from the bar can just be processed as white noise after a while. Probably of more annoyance to some travelers might be the noise inside the hostel.

Quiet hours are midnight-8am, and you can be sure that the dishwasher will be running, laundry will be going, people will be watching tv (quite loudly in some cases), and general busy-ness will be going on clear up to midnight (or a bit later). And because of the late nights, it’s not uncommon that you’ll have to tip-toe around at even 8,9, or 10am because everyone else is still sleeping. I had to set my alarm for 6:45 two of the morning, and I felt horrible about it!

The only thing that truly bothered me about staying at the hostel – beyond dealing with the noise and lack of privacy, both of which didn’t bug me after a while – was having to use a public restroom and showering facility every time I needed to. That just got…old. Everything else, though was certainly something this “30-something mom of 5” dealt with pretty well on her own!

*Disclosure: I’m posting this review for my own interest and just to share with readers and friends. I have no material connection to Sweet Peas, I was just lucky enough to find a place so last-minute. And at $30/night, it was hard to beat!