Hausing Done Right: The Pirate Haus Inn
St. Augustine, Florida, USA
Hostels in the United States are hard to come by, and once found, they are often not as cheap, not as safe, and not as traveler friendly as their European counterparts. On a recent trip to New York, my hostel cost 60 bucks a night and appeared to be in violation of several fire codes (and the rooms were eerily reminiscent of horse stalls). Such lodging experiences make me want to RAVE about the top notch accommodations and service to be had at the Pirate Haus Inn and Hostel in the sleepy tourist town of St. Augustine, Florida. St. Augustine is the oldest city in the U.S. and its old town area caters to tourists with lots of historical sights, museums, and even a wax museum. The beach is just over the bridge if you feel like going for a swim.
In town for a family wedding, I didn’t wish to spend the $75 a night charged by the family’s hotel of choice. So, while researching online, I came across the extremely helpful and informative Pirate Haus website. Pleased with what I saw, I decided to make reservations over the phone, and became quite excited about my upcoming stay after speaking with Conrad, the hostel owner. Conrad is a laid back yet extremely efficient guy dedicated to providing quality service at decent price. He’s traveled extensively, lived in the Netherlands, and its clear he’s modeled his hostel (built in 1915) after the best of his own hostel stays while visiting abroad.
The Pirate Haus is damn cheap for this North Florida tourist destination; dorm rooms are $15.60 a night (he has both gendered rooms and a coed overflow room). Private rooms (with or without private bath) start at $42 a night. We stayed in a double private room with bath, also including a roll out bed (for extra friends or family). Other amenities included a mini fridge, hardwood floors, and chocolate by the bed. After visiting relatives staying in the Monterey Inn, we felt like we were staying in a luxury suite. For about $30 less a night, our room was bigger, better decorated, was in a slightly better location, and was in general, less trashy (The Monterey’s parking situation was difficult and unsightly…a bunch of SUVs overstuffed in a parking lot built when the long slender Cadillac was the most obtrusive vehicle in the lot). Aesthetics aside, the Pirate Haus is all comforting the budget traveler, offering a free pancake breakfast and use of the communal kitchen, which is well stocked with appliances, dishes, and utensils. As you enter the kitchen, you’ll notice cubby holes for visitors to store their own food. Honestly, I’ve never seen such attentiveness in a budget accommodation.
I stayed in the winter but noticed the rooftop terrace complete with a BBQ grill and herb garden. Conrad loves to speak with his guests, is very personable, and is also a born travel guide. He likes to get out a map and mark off places of interest for his guests, and his recommendations are really helpful: he knows the costs of area attractions, restaurants, and shops; he’ll tell you about the tourist raps, the good eats, and the ripoffs. He’s loyal to his clientele as well, advising me to stay away from a Mexican restaurant that ripped off a former guest of the hostel. Conrad’s attention to his guests makes his visitors so appreciative and welcomed in the city that his hospitality literally makes one want to stay longer…Why not? Who’s treated this well at home? I assure you that every last detail is taken care of. Please, before opening your own hostel in the U.S., stay at the Pirate Haus and let Conrad show you how it’s done.
The Pirate Haus is located on the corner of Charlotte and Treasury Streets, just one block off St. George St. in the center of historical downtown St. Augustine, Florida. Phone# (904) 808-1999.