For longer than a year, as you made your way from the Green Room in Deep Ellum to grab a slice at Serious Pizza, you could see a building with the words Deep Ellum Hostel at the top. Peering into the window would result in seeing different stages of construction, no indication from the tarps and saw horses on when it would open. Then quietly, without much fanfare, on July 7, Deep Ellum Hostel was open for business.
In many ways the hostel operates like a hotel. Check-in is 3 p.m. and check-out at noon the next day, with staff at the front desk around the clock to assist or answer any questions. The trendy lounge area is lined with sleekly-designed loveseats. A bar and restaurant is available for guests, an entry through a disguised door that looks like stacked luggage from an overpacked world traveler hides in plain sight.
Past the lobby is the common kitchen area where guests can grab food they left in the refrigerator and chat with other tenants who are starting or ending their day. Farther past the kitchen is the laundry room. All things you would more or less find in a regular hotel, until you reach the second floor.
Up one flight of stairs is the series of doors that lead to different rooms. Prices range from $39 to $179 with spaces varying from an eight-person room accommodating single bunks, to a private room with a queen-size bed large enough to comfortably fit two travelers. Each bunk is equipped with a lamp, small fan, USB plugs, a shelf and a storage area for personal effects.
While the private rooms do have attached bathrooms in their quarters, the dorm room tenants don’t forgo complete privacy when it’s time to wash up. A series of community bathrooms are clustered together close by, each designed for single occupancy with a locked door.
Russell Covey, general manager of the Deep Ellum Hostel, has observed that most of the people traveling internationally have desired bunk beds while Dallas locals seek private rooms. Covey has been taking the lead to make sure things run smoothly since the doors opened officially.
“I know we’re the only hostel in Dallas," he says. "There’s another one in Irving, but as far as Dallas goes, we’re the only hostel so far."
Covey is new to the Dallas area but experienced in the operations of hostels, having worked at The Firehouse Hostel & Lounge in Austin, before coming to assist in opening Deep Ellum Hostel to the public. Both the Firehouse and Deep Ellum locations are owned and founded by developers Collin Ballard and Kent Roth. There are slight differences between the locations, a prominent one being the Austin location does not allow local residents to stay the night, whereas Dallas does not currently enforce such parameters.
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That rule has benefited the late-night drinkers more than a few times already. So far there have been a small portion of guests that come in from the bars on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. In many cases the cost of an Uber during the spiked 2 a.m. surge rates is comparable to one night of comfortable sleep a block over from the bar they stumbled out of.
“You get people walking by, they’ve already paid for parking, they don’t want to have to leave,” Covey says. “In Austin we don’t allow that, but here we’re welcome to it. Austin is such a smaller city, that an Uber, if you spend what you would pay for a night here on an Uber you can get out of the town. So it doesn’t really make a lot of sense more often than not if someone is wanting to stay the night because they’re that drunk.”
It’s not surprising to get a few inebriated guests, especially considering the amount of bars close by, but what's interesting to note is the amount of international guests the hostel has received in such a small window of time. Covey says so far they’ve mostly hosted international travelers; with guests from Japan, Germany, Chile, the U.K., Australia and Brazil. Deep Ellum is seen similarly as downtown Austin for travelers from abroad.
“The neighborhood is very similar to what it’s like down off of 6th Street where our hostel is in Austin,” Covey says. “We have a lot of guests coming. When I’d be working the front desk in Austin, a lot of guests would come in saying, ‘I was in DFW, but I couldn’t find anywhere to stay, so I just came down here.’ So we want to give them a place to stay and check out this neighborhood.”